Uit: The Sorrow Of Belgium (Vertaald door Arnold J. Pomerans)
“It was sister Imelda who was sitting in Louis’s room, because although her face had been replaced by a featureless, pumicelike tumor, he recognized her peasant bosom, her smell of nature. She spread her knees, and from between the black billows she carefully pulled a skinned rabbit, or was it a cat? Unfortunately he couldn’t see the skull properly, she stroked the naked, blood-spattered carcass to which tufts of fur still clung, the pupils were not slit-shaped but round, like little pink pills.
He was woken by the siren, the antiaircraft guns and Papa calling him. Papa always called him, vigilant watchman of the night, even though he knew that Louis would still not follow him and Mama down to the air raid shelter with its crowds of quaking, praying neighbors.”
“He was sitting on a train, and for the first time in his life it occurred to him that a train, more so than the idea of a train, was a box so many feet high, so many feet long, so many feet wide, a fragile, futile, and above all simple thing on wheels. I could touch the ceiling of this carriage – who would have thought it? Only a moment ago I was in the playground, in the shadow of my grandfather, who is now lying on his deathbed.”
“My brother died in a concentration camp,” said Louis. “He was an intellectual working for the Underground, and he never tasted the fruits of his clandestine labours.”
“Is this entry about his experience?”
“His own experience, yes, of course.”
“Het Laatste Nieuws would certainly be interested in that.”
“It doesn’t deal directly with the concentration camp. It’s rather…”
“Which concentration camp?”
“…symbolic. Uh, Neuengamme.” (I’ll be struck down for that. Till the blood runs. Terminal cancer. Starting with the intestines. Then it spreads all over.)
“It’s a good subject. The Belgian people are going to have to learn the facts. From the source.”
“He handed me the text before he was taken away. In a cattle truck. ‘Take good care of it, Louis,’ he said.”
“I thought his name was Louis.”
“He asked me to adopt his name. So as to save his life’s work after his death, to continue it. My real name is Maurice.”
Hugo Claus (5 april 1929 – 19 maart 2008)
A Ballad of Dreamland
I hid my heart in a nest of roses,
Out of the sun’s way, hidden apart;
In a softer bed than the soft white snow’s is,
Under the roses I hid my heart.
Why would it sleep not? why should it start,
When never a leaf of the rose-tree stirred?
What made sleep flutter his wings and part?
Only the song of a secret bird.
Lie still, I said, for the wind’s wing closes,
And mild leaves muffle the keen sun’s dart;
Lie still, for the wind on the warm seas dozes,
And the wind is unquieter yet than thou art.
Does a thought in thee still as a thorn’s wound smart?
Does the fang still fret thee of hope deferred?
What bids the lips of thy sleep dispart?
Only the song of a secret bird.
The green land’s name that a charm encloses,
It never was writ in the traveller’s chart,
And sweet on its trees as the fruit that grows is,
It never was sold in the merchant’s mart.
The swallows of dreams through its dim fields dart,
And sleep’s are the tunes in its tree-tops heard;
No hound’s note wakens the wildwood hart,
Only the song of a secret bird.
In the world of dreams I have chosen my part,
To sleep for a season and hear no word
Of true love’s truth or of light love’s art,
Only the song of a secret bird.
Algernon Swinburne (5 april 1837 – 10 april 1909)
Anoniem portret , ca. 1860 – 1890
Uit: My unrelenting vice
“We carry within the texts that fall into our hands. There are philosophers who believe: the things that we find in books are those that we have brought to them. Borges said that – his protagonist writes an already existing book all over again, convinced that only the repeat exists, not the original. In Musil’s novel, by the way, there is a strange librarian, who guards thousands of books without every having opened even one of them. But still he knows everything about them, because we apparently sometimes also read when we are not reading. As it is, libraries make normal people anxious, seeming like overload, regardless how orderly the catalogues may be. I therefore do understand those who flee from reading as if it were the plague. Everyone has a right to their individual fears. Canetti finds a way out of this in a novel about books by causing the library to burn down. However, after every barbarian plundering there will always be someone who reads the few remaining recognisable characters lying in the ashes.
So my daily ploughing through the pages continues, my unrelenting vice. There are many people guilty of making me this way. My grandmother, first and foremost, who already taught me to read and write at age four. (As we see, there are two phenomena that run parallel to one another; writing is a form of reading, and reading means writing.)”
Bora Ćosić (Zagreb, 5 april 1932)
Uit: Heul doch den Mond an
“Bevor wir dem Wolf begegneten, war eigentlich für Paula und für mich die Welt so ziemlich in Ordnung. Wir hatten keine großen Schwierigkeiten miteinander. Wir lebten glücklich und zufrieden und planten zusammen eine richtige Reise durch Amerika. Das war im Sommer 1969. Und im Herbst flogen wir von Frankfurt aus mit einer DC 8 über Winnipeg nach Vancouver in Kanada.
Ich bin Billy. Eigentlich heiße ich Werner, aber in Amerika nannte man mich Bill oder Billy, was die Kurzform von William ist. Immer, wenn ich als W. J. Egli unterschrieben habe, streckten mir die Leute die Hand hin und sagten: Well, how do you do, Bill?, weil sie glaubten, das W steht für William. Inzwischen habe ich mich daran gewöhnt. Paula und ich, wir waren schon drei Jahre zusammen. Ohne Hund. Ohne Katze. Auch ohne Kanarienvogel.
Die Paula wollte aber schon immer einen Hund haben. Schon seit sie klein war. Aber der Hausmeister war dagegen. Paulas Mutter auch. Stofftierchen sind besser. Nur, die Paula wollte lieber einen richtigen Hund haben, und jeden Herbst, wenn sie Geburtstag hatte, schleppte sie mich in die Tierhandlung und spielte mit den kleinen Hunden herum, den Dobermännern und den Schäferhunden und Spaniels, und ich stand griesgrämig daneben….”
Werner J. Egli (Luzern, 5 april 1943)
Woche spricht in sieben Tagen,
mahnt zum Kämpfen, nicht zum Klagen,
spitz die Ohren halt den Mund,
stillstes Lauschen ist gesund.
In der Zeit der leiblich Not
achte doppelt geistig Brot!
Ob du an Gott glaubst?
Stolzes Menschlein, ach, wie nichtig!
Daß Gott an dich glaubt,
das allein ist wichtig,
damit dein ehrfüchtig erfülltes Leben
den Weltgeist zwingt, auf dich achtzugeben.
Den Freund ertragen,
den Feind erschlagen –
rettet’s dich je,
schaffst du selbst dir Plagen,
bist selbst in dir allen Elendes voll?
Zahl erst des eignen Unwerts Zoll!
Michael Georg Conrad (5 april 1846 – 20 december 1927)
“Air freight warehouses — of all airlines — were stacked to their palletized limits with shipments, their usual high speed transit impeded by the storm. Freight supervisors were nervously watching perishables — hothouse flowers from Wyoming for New England; a ton of Pennsylvania cheese for Anchorage, Alaska; frozen peas for Iceland; live lobsters — trans-shipped from the east for a polar route flight — destination Europe. The lobsters were for tomorrow’s menus in Edinburgh and Paris where they would be billed as “fresh local seafood,” and American tourists would order them unknowingly. Storm or not, contracts decreed that air freight perishables must arrive at destination fresh, and swiftly.
Causing special anxiety in American Airlines Freight was a shipment of several thousand turkey poults, hatched in incubators only hours earlier. The precise hatching-shipping schedule — like a complex order of battle — was set up weeks ago, before the turkey eggs were laid. It called for delivery of the live birds on the West Coast within forty-eight hours of birth, the limit of the tiny creatures’ existence without their first food or water. Normally, the arrangement provided a near-hundred percent survival. Significant also — if the poults were fed en route, they would stink, and so would the airplane conveying them, for days afterward. Already the poults’ schedule was out of joint by several hours. But an airplane had been diverted from passenger to freight service, and tonight the fledgling turkeys would have priority over everything else traveling, human VIPs included.”
Arthur Hailey (5 april 1920 – 24 november 2004)
Poster voor de film uit 1970
“Rai. I know, ninety per cent of the unfaithful wives represent only ninety out of a hundred husbands who deserve being deceived. But half of them deserve it through a single mistake they have made — an imprudent choice. And your case? The remedy? To make up for the first mistake with all the good sense possible. It is difficult, true, but there is a certain sword of Damocles which sharpens the wit and points the will.
Fed. A sword of Damocles?
Rai. Yes, a sword on whose blade a single word stands inscribed, the little word describing the husband of the 124 faithless wife. It is the Inquisition of our day. Should the man kill her? Should he forgive her? The law offers him a wash-basin, and when he has washed his hands he is no better off than he was before. Because society makes no allowances, but strikes him with a terrible punishment, which overtakes him and is inflicted on him without his being conscious of it. Nothing changes; no one denies him the usual bow. Quite the contrary, poor fellow! His friends shake hands with him; why not, poor devil? He is always welcome at his club; he is permitted to act as second in duels; he is invited to shoot at pigeons, to belong to racing committees. But the bows and hand-shakes have an imperceptible touch of irony, the very least tinge of mockery, which is most pronounced when he passes arm in arm with his best friend.”
Paolo Ferrari (5 april 1822 – 9 maart 1889)