Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Cees Nooteboom

SMALL BANG

The poem heard how it was composed,
it saw the giant hand
from which it seemed to have its being, word by word,
it barely could keep up with itself.


Keep up, it saw itself spelled out, and its own echo,
keep up, keep up, but the hand
had run ahead, lashed by the whip
of its own scratchings,
that homesickness for form.


It hurts not to be whole
for someone who arrives out of nowhere.
The words lie breathless on the desk,
the hand disappears, returns, disappears,
the poem remembers nothing.


And the head, so far above,
still unrecognizable,
except as the mask of chaos and beginnings,
turns from its lines,


and listens to its own breathing,
the cadenza of thought
that ends the poem
with a sigh.

Het gedicht hoorde hoe het werd geschreven,

Het gedicht hoorde hoe het werd geschreven,
het zag de reusachtige hand
waaruit het leek te ontstaan, woord voor woord,
het hield zichzelf nauwelijks bij.


Bij, zag het geschreven, en als echo
zei het zichzelf, bij, bij, maar toen
was de hand alweer verder, gejaagd
door de zweep van het krassen,
het heimwee naar vorm.
Het doet pijn om niet af te zijn


voor wie nergens vandaan komt.
Zonder lucht liggen de woorden op tafel,
de hand is verdwenen, komt terug, is verdwenen,
het gedicht herinnert zich niets,


en het hoofd, zo ver daarboven,
nog steeds als niets anders herkenbaar
dan als masker van baaierd en oorsprong,
wendt zich af van de regels,


het zegt in zijn adem
de cadens van het denken
en sluit het gedicht
met een zucht.
Close

SMALL BANG

The poem heard how it was composed,
it saw the giant hand
from which it seemed to have its being, word by word,
it barely could keep up with itself.


Keep up, it saw itself spelled out, and its own echo,
keep up, keep up, but the hand
had run ahead, lashed by the whip
of its own scratchings,
that homesickness for form.


It hurts not to be whole
for someone who arrives out of nowhere.
The words lie breathless on the desk,
the hand disappears, returns, disappears,
the poem remembers nothing.


And the head, so far above,
still unrecognizable,
except as the mask of chaos and beginnings,
turns from its lines,


and listens to its own breathing,
the cadenza of thought
that ends the poem
with a sigh.

SMALL BANG

The poem heard how it was composed,
it saw the giant hand
from which it seemed to have its being, word by word,
it barely could keep up with itself.


Keep up, it saw itself spelled out, and its own echo,
keep up, keep up, but the hand
had run ahead, lashed by the whip
of its own scratchings,
that homesickness for form.


It hurts not to be whole
for someone who arrives out of nowhere.
The words lie breathless on the desk,
the hand disappears, returns, disappears,
the poem remembers nothing.


And the head, so far above,
still unrecognizable,
except as the mask of chaos and beginnings,
turns from its lines,


and listens to its own breathing,
the cadenza of thought
that ends the poem
with a sigh.
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