Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Rita Dove

The spring cricket considers the question of negritude

De voorjaarskrekel overdenkt de kwestie van de zwarte mens

Ik speelde mijn wijsjes helemaal alleen;
Ik kende niemand anders
die met me mee kon spelen.

Zeker, de wijsjes waren droevig –
maar ook mooi en kwamen pas
als de dag ten einde liep: je weet

hoe de hemel soms haar laatste
heldere sliertjes achterhoudt? Dan
woekerde de pijn van binnen

tot ik niet kon wachten; ik knielde neer
om mezelf schoon te schrapen,
wat iedereen mocht horen.

Toen kwam het schreeuwen en fluiten
het in potten stoppen, wild geklauter.
Nu waren er anderen: gevallen,

bedrukt. Ik kende hun namen niet.
We waren een muzieklantaarn;
kinderen sliepen op onze raspende zuchten.

En als nu en dan een van ons
zich losrukte en zong terwijl hij
naar de rand klom, viel hij steevast

weer neer. Waarop zij lachten
en in hun handen klapten. Toen wisten we
ten minste wat ze fijn vonden,

en waar de grens lag.

The spring cricket considers the question of negritude

I was playing my tunes all by myself;
I didn't know anybody else
who could play along.

Sure, the tunes were sad ––
but sweet, too, and wouldn't come
until the day gave out:  you know

that way the sky has of dangling
her last bright wisps? That's when
the ache would bloom inside

until I couldn’t wait; I knelt down
to scrape myself clean
and didn’t care who heard.

Then came the shouts and whistles,
the roundup into jars, a clamber of legs. 
Now there were others: tumbled,

clouded.  I didn’t know their names. 
We were a musical lantern;
children slept to our rasping sighs.
       
And if now and then one of us
shook free and sang as he climbed
to the brim, he would always

fall again. Which made them laugh
and clap their hands. At least then
we knew what pleased them, 

and where the brink was.
Close

The spring cricket considers the question of negritude

I was playing my tunes all by myself;
I didn't know anybody else
who could play along.

Sure, the tunes were sad ––
but sweet, too, and wouldn't come
until the day gave out:  you know

that way the sky has of dangling
her last bright wisps? That's when
the ache would bloom inside

until I couldn’t wait; I knelt down
to scrape myself clean
and didn’t care who heard.

Then came the shouts and whistles,
the roundup into jars, a clamber of legs. 
Now there were others: tumbled,

clouded.  I didn’t know their names. 
We were a musical lantern;
children slept to our rasping sighs.
       
And if now and then one of us
shook free and sang as he climbed
to the brim, he would always

fall again. Which made them laugh
and clap their hands. At least then
we knew what pleased them, 

and where the brink was.

The spring cricket considers the question of negritude

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