Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Toon Tellegen

A friend

I had a friend who was dying,
I watched him die,
I heard him die

I stood there
and with the greatest effort on the part of my empathy,
which had so far proved useless,

I changed places with him

the difference was smaller than I’d expected

he watched me die
he heard me die

he stood there
and said that it was better this way, fairer,
how should he put it,
he still had so much to do, so much of consequence

he thanked me for my empathy
and for the incredible effectiveness
of its timing

it happened one morning in a forest,
he’d gone for a jog there,
I was dying.

Een vriend

Een vriend

Ik had een vriend die doodging,
ik zag hem doodgaan,
hoorde hem doodgaan

ik stond erbij
en met uiterste inspanning van mijn tot dan toe onbruikbaar gebleken inlevingsvermogen
verwisselde ik van plaats met hem

het verschil was kleiner dan ik dacht

hij zag mij doodgaan
hoorde mij doodgaan

hij stond erbij
en zei dat het beter was zo, rechtvaardiger,
hoe moest hij het zeggen,
hij had nog zoveel te doen, zoveel te betekenen

hij dankte mij voor mijn inlevingsvermogen
en voor de ongelooflijke precisie van het tijdstip
waarop het zijn nut bewees

het was op een ochtend in een bos,
hij was daar aan het hollen,
ik ging daar dood.
Close

A friend

I had a friend who was dying,
I watched him die,
I heard him die

I stood there
and with the greatest effort on the part of my empathy,
which had so far proved useless,

I changed places with him

the difference was smaller than I’d expected

he watched me die
he heard me die

he stood there
and said that it was better this way, fairer,
how should he put it,
he still had so much to do, so much of consequence

he thanked me for my empathy
and for the incredible effectiveness
of its timing

it happened one morning in a forest,
he’d gone for a jog there,
I was dying.

A friend

I had a friend who was dying,
I watched him die,
I heard him die

I stood there
and with the greatest effort on the part of my empathy,
which had so far proved useless,

I changed places with him

the difference was smaller than I’d expected

he watched me die
he heard me die

he stood there
and said that it was better this way, fairer,
how should he put it,
he still had so much to do, so much of consequence

he thanked me for my empathy
and for the incredible effectiveness
of its timing

it happened one morning in a forest,
he’d gone for a jog there,
I was dying.
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