Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Gerrit Komrij

Thirst for knowledge

He’s beady-eyed. His jet-black cloak is heaving
Like some great bellows regularly fed.
I spurn his falls and rises. Who’d believe in
Salvation stemming from his birdlike head?

His trusting gaze impels me to submit.
Confessing to him trips right off the tongue.
‘It wasn’t my dead mother,’ I repeat,
‘Not wizened by the grave, not dead and gone –

The figure was intact and smooth. Commanding.
Anemones were blooming on her stave.
She was a mistress, and yet quite enchanting.
I do not know for sure what sign she gave.’

Dorst naar kennis

Dorst naar kennis

Kraalogen heeft hij. Regelmatig steekt er
Een storm onder zijn zwarte mantel op.
Dan stijgt en daalt hij. Ik negeer het. Spreekt er
Niet louter redding uit zijn vogelkop?

Ik zwicht voor het vertrouwen in zijn blik.
Het biechten gaat mij heel eenvoudig af.
‘Het was mijn moeder niet,’ zeg ik,
Niet de gerimpelde, niet die van ’t graf –

Het beeld was glad en ongerept. Zij heerste
Er bloeiden anemonen uit haar staf.
Ze was een meesteres en toch de teerste.
Ik weet niet wat voor teken zij mij gaf.’
Close

Thirst for knowledge

He’s beady-eyed. His jet-black cloak is heaving
Like some great bellows regularly fed.
I spurn his falls and rises. Who’d believe in
Salvation stemming from his birdlike head?

His trusting gaze impels me to submit.
Confessing to him trips right off the tongue.
‘It wasn’t my dead mother,’ I repeat,
‘Not wizened by the grave, not dead and gone –

The figure was intact and smooth. Commanding.
Anemones were blooming on her stave.
She was a mistress, and yet quite enchanting.
I do not know for sure what sign she gave.’

Thirst for knowledge

He’s beady-eyed. His jet-black cloak is heaving
Like some great bellows regularly fed.
I spurn his falls and rises. Who’d believe in
Salvation stemming from his birdlike head?

His trusting gaze impels me to submit.
Confessing to him trips right off the tongue.
‘It wasn’t my dead mother,’ I repeat,
‘Not wizened by the grave, not dead and gone –

The figure was intact and smooth. Commanding.
Anemones were blooming on her stave.
She was a mistress, and yet quite enchanting.
I do not know for sure what sign she gave.’
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