Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Stefan Hertmans

GOLDBERG VARIATIONS

That we possessed the lightness
to fold our hands round music –
deliberation issuing from a fugue
protecting us because we’ve something we protect.

There are things you cannot learn.
They follow us like faithful dogs,
the gentle ankle biters of
tempers and humour.

That isn’t why we do it,
we know it, we stay silent
exulting in the variations
over the passing years.

How often does one see what lasts,
this fraction of imagination?
And yet – a glimpse of a piano
at evening through an open window,

fragments of voices in the mist,
and all is open once again.

GOLDBERGVARIATIES

GOLDBERGVARIATIES

Dat we de lichtheid hadden
om handen rond muziek te vouwen –
bedachtzaamheid die uit een fuga straalt
en ons beschermt omdat we iets beschermen.

Er zijn dingen die je niet kunt leren.
Ze volgen ons als trouwe honden,
de zachte enkelbijters van
stemming en humeur.

Daar doen we het niet om,
we weten het, we zwijgen
en de variaties jubelen
de jaren door.

Hoe vaak beseft een mens wat blijvend is,
die fractie van verbeelding?
En toch – een glimp van een klavier
bij avond door een open raam,

een flard van stemmen in de mist,
en alles is weer open.
Close

GOLDBERG VARIATIONS

That we possessed the lightness
to fold our hands round music –
deliberation issuing from a fugue
protecting us because we’ve something we protect.

There are things you cannot learn.
They follow us like faithful dogs,
the gentle ankle biters of
tempers and humour.

That isn’t why we do it,
we know it, we stay silent
exulting in the variations
over the passing years.

How often does one see what lasts,
this fraction of imagination?
And yet – a glimpse of a piano
at evening through an open window,

fragments of voices in the mist,
and all is open once again.

GOLDBERG VARIATIONS

That we possessed the lightness
to fold our hands round music –
deliberation issuing from a fugue
protecting us because we’ve something we protect.

There are things you cannot learn.
They follow us like faithful dogs,
the gentle ankle biters of
tempers and humour.

That isn’t why we do it,
we know it, we stay silent
exulting in the variations
over the passing years.

How often does one see what lasts,
this fraction of imagination?
And yet – a glimpse of a piano
at evening through an open window,

fragments of voices in the mist,
and all is open once again.
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