Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Ramsey Nasr

The Hudson Sonnets

I - hudson’s shortcut

our outcome was that you were in the way
we sailed to that conclusion on a dream
dreamt by a fool: our captain hudson claimed
that he could find a shortcut to the east

go straight and keep the north pole on your left
then you can slip down quickly to the indies
and we believed the guy and followed him
yes, even when he said: “or maybe west . . . ?”

henry hudson had been dismissed before
and when he swore on the shore of a foreign bay
that all we had to do to reach the orient
was set a course straight through america
we’d wisely lowered sail – already wedged
from stem to stern in this new continent


*

II - new amsterdam

the waiting bay lay like an outstretched finger
at the end of an invisible dutch arm
we went exploring, stamping round we found
our way in a deserted fertile backwater

perhaps no other body but ours, which never
managed to win one god, one people for itself
which rose from drifting, loose minorities
could lay the seed for such a babelopolis

who taught you how to use the melting pot?
who said, be equal, be diverse and free
your trade, who told you, dreams can spread like shares?
the true world champions of immigration
we were, a distant spark of liberty
america, the netherlands writ small


*

III - new netherland

oh font of humanism, oh shining beacon
oh cradle of exemplary citizenship
who listens to us now? we have our leaders
they blare their christian values round the place
and mount the moralistic foghorn high
but in america their frightened faces
all gleam with drooling pride, it’s not prime time
but still we steal a slot in the cool white house

what kind of model country toes this line?
we bob along behind the big boss boat
impressive, don’t you think? a fifty-state fleet
with an inspiring airbed at the back
WANTED URGENTLY: foolish fools with vision
who dare to dream and make the cold sea crack

De Hudson Sonnetten

De Hudson Sonnetten

I - hudson’s shortcut

in wezen lagen jullie in de weg
wij kwamen meegevaren op de droom
van een malloot: die hudson had gezegd
dat hij een shortcut kende naar den oost

immer gerade aus langs de noordpool
dan kwam je snel in indië terecht
en wij geloofden deze vent, we volgden
zelfs toen hij ijskoud polste: ‘of naar west . . . ?’

kapitein hudson was al eens ontslagen
en toen hij aan een vreemde baai bezwoer
dat we om in azië te raken slechts nog
dwars door amerika heen moesten varen
toen voeren we al niet meer – rotsvast geklemd
van kop tot kont in ’t nieuwe continent


*

II - nieuw amsterdam

de baai lag als een uitgestrekte vinger
vanaf het vaderland op ons te wachten
wij gingen er op pad, we stampten rond
wegwijzend in een leeg maar vruchtbaar gat

wellicht dat enkel uit ons lijf, dat nimmer
één volk, één god voor zich had kunnen winnen
dat zelf oprees uit schuim van minderheden
een babelstad als dit zich kon ontspinnen

wie leerde u hier het ware smelten? wie
zei: handel vrij, wees anders, wees gelijken
dat dromen zich als aandelen verspreiden?
de wereldkampioen in immigreren
dat waren wij, een verre vonk van vrijheid
amerika een holland in het klein


*

III - nieuw nederland

o bron van humanisme, blakend lichtpunt
o bakermat van zeldzaam burgerschap
wie luistert nog naar ons? dat zijn dan leiders
ze schallen hier hun christennormen rond
hangen fraai de morele misthoorn uit
maar in amerika (en nooit prime time)
doen ze het glimmend in hun broek van trots
stelen we tijd in het koelwitte huis

wat is een gidsland nog in zo’n positie?
wij varen braaf achter de grote baas
’t is imposant: een vloot van vijftig staten
plus nog een luchtbed om hen op te jagen
GEZOCHT: grote malloten met een visie
die dromen kunnen en de zee doen kraken
Close

The Hudson Sonnets

I - hudson’s shortcut

our outcome was that you were in the way
we sailed to that conclusion on a dream
dreamt by a fool: our captain hudson claimed
that he could find a shortcut to the east

go straight and keep the north pole on your left
then you can slip down quickly to the indies
and we believed the guy and followed him
yes, even when he said: “or maybe west . . . ?”

henry hudson had been dismissed before
and when he swore on the shore of a foreign bay
that all we had to do to reach the orient
was set a course straight through america
we’d wisely lowered sail – already wedged
from stem to stern in this new continent


*

II - new amsterdam

the waiting bay lay like an outstretched finger
at the end of an invisible dutch arm
we went exploring, stamping round we found
our way in a deserted fertile backwater

perhaps no other body but ours, which never
managed to win one god, one people for itself
which rose from drifting, loose minorities
could lay the seed for such a babelopolis

who taught you how to use the melting pot?
who said, be equal, be diverse and free
your trade, who told you, dreams can spread like shares?
the true world champions of immigration
we were, a distant spark of liberty
america, the netherlands writ small


*

III - new netherland

oh font of humanism, oh shining beacon
oh cradle of exemplary citizenship
who listens to us now? we have our leaders
they blare their christian values round the place
and mount the moralistic foghorn high
but in america their frightened faces
all gleam with drooling pride, it’s not prime time
but still we steal a slot in the cool white house

what kind of model country toes this line?
we bob along behind the big boss boat
impressive, don’t you think? a fifty-state fleet
with an inspiring airbed at the back
WANTED URGENTLY: foolish fools with vision
who dare to dream and make the cold sea crack

The Hudson Sonnets

I - hudson’s shortcut

our outcome was that you were in the way
we sailed to that conclusion on a dream
dreamt by a fool: our captain hudson claimed
that he could find a shortcut to the east

go straight and keep the north pole on your left
then you can slip down quickly to the indies
and we believed the guy and followed him
yes, even when he said: “or maybe west . . . ?”

henry hudson had been dismissed before
and when he swore on the shore of a foreign bay
that all we had to do to reach the orient
was set a course straight through america
we’d wisely lowered sail – already wedged
from stem to stern in this new continent


*

II - new amsterdam

the waiting bay lay like an outstretched finger
at the end of an invisible dutch arm
we went exploring, stamping round we found
our way in a deserted fertile backwater

perhaps no other body but ours, which never
managed to win one god, one people for itself
which rose from drifting, loose minorities
could lay the seed for such a babelopolis

who taught you how to use the melting pot?
who said, be equal, be diverse and free
your trade, who told you, dreams can spread like shares?
the true world champions of immigration
we were, a distant spark of liberty
america, the netherlands writ small


*

III - new netherland

oh font of humanism, oh shining beacon
oh cradle of exemplary citizenship
who listens to us now? we have our leaders
they blare their christian values round the place
and mount the moralistic foghorn high
but in america their frightened faces
all gleam with drooling pride, it’s not prime time
but still we steal a slot in the cool white house

what kind of model country toes this line?
we bob along behind the big boss boat
impressive, don’t you think? a fifty-state fleet
with an inspiring airbed at the back
WANTED URGENTLY: foolish fools with vision
who dare to dream and make the cold sea crack
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
Partners
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