Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Gerrit Kouwenaar

WHEN WE WERE STILL YOUNG

When we were still young and the world still old
and we stood on high mountains in a far land
seeing in the valley deep beneath us a long motionless
rusty train, impossibly alone
in the eye of a violent void, you cried
blowing a kiss to the sky
I’m a guidebook, kids
teach me to read

and in the evening on the square under withering palms
there were wine and olives and a rustling silence
from mournful throats and the darkness pressed
tenderly close to the blade, and you
you bought the unbearable fate of a blind man
and cried the ear drinks

now it’s later, an evening years after, the dead
silent train has left, the lottery ticket’s
expired, your guidebook is open

under similar older trees I drink
the hoarse voice of your words, I hear your silence –

TOEN WIJ NOG JONG WAREN

Close

WHEN WE WERE STILL YOUNG

When we were still young and the world still old
and we stood on high mountains in a far land
seeing in the valley deep beneath us a long motionless
rusty train, impossibly alone
in the eye of a violent void, you cried
blowing a kiss to the sky
I’m a guidebook, kids
teach me to read

and in the evening on the square under withering palms
there were wine and olives and a rustling silence
from mournful throats and the darkness pressed
tenderly close to the blade, and you
you bought the unbearable fate of a blind man
and cried the ear drinks

now it’s later, an evening years after, the dead
silent train has left, the lottery ticket’s
expired, your guidebook is open

under similar older trees I drink
the hoarse voice of your words, I hear your silence –

WHEN WE WERE STILL YOUNG

When we were still young and the world still old
and we stood on high mountains in a far land
seeing in the valley deep beneath us a long motionless
rusty train, impossibly alone
in the eye of a violent void, you cried
blowing a kiss to the sky
I’m a guidebook, kids
teach me to read

and in the evening on the square under withering palms
there were wine and olives and a rustling silence
from mournful throats and the darkness pressed
tenderly close to the blade, and you
you bought the unbearable fate of a blind man
and cried the ear drinks

now it’s later, an evening years after, the dead
silent train has left, the lottery ticket’s
expired, your guidebook is open

under similar older trees I drink
the hoarse voice of your words, I hear your silence –
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère