Dolce far niente, Mies Bouhuys, Jonathan Coe, Li-Young Lee, Frederik Lucien De Laere, Louis Th. Lehmann, Ogden Nash, Frank McCourt


Dolce far niente


Rembrandtplein door Agatha Zethraeus, ca. 1911




De gids zegt: kijk! De gids zegt: look!
De gids zegt: regardez!
Hier schreef Spinoza aan een boek,
daar stroomt het IJ naar zee.
Maar daarom niet, maar daarom niet,
om wat een ander erin ziet,
blijf ik in Amsterdam.
Maar om de gekke geveltjes,
om al die groene grachten,
om al die lichte venstertjes,
blijf ik hier overnachten.

De gids zegt: Hier! De gids zegt: There!
De gids zegt: Eh voilà!
Hier woonde ’t laatste huisje rechts
Rembrandt met Saskia.
Maar daarom niet, nee, daarom niet,
om wat een ander ervan ziet,
blijf ik in Amsterdam.
Maar om de scheve kamertjes
waar anderen niets om geven,
vol vrouwtjes en vol mannetjes,
blijf ik hier heel mijn leven.

De gids zegt: Dam! De gids zegt: Munt!
De gids zegt: Rembrandtplein.
Wij staan hier op een historisch punt,
waar u geweest moet zijn.
De gids zegt dit, de gids zegt dat.
Ik zeg alleen maar: gekke stad.
Alleen maar: Amsterdam.


Mies Bouhuys (10 januari 1927 – 30 juni 2008)
Weesp, de geboorteplaats van Mies Bouhuys


De Engelse schrijver Jonathan Coe werd geboren op 19 augustus 1961 in Birmingham. Zie ook mijn blog van 19 augustus 2010 en eveneens alle tags voor Jonathan Coe op dit blog.

Uit: Number 11

“They sat for a few moments in silence: each of them, once again, trying to wrestle as best they could with the conundrum of why their parents should have chosen to go away for half-term without them. Then, as soon as the cold started to bite, Nicholas jumped to his feet.
‘Come on,’ he said. ‘Are we going to look at this cathedral before it gets dark?’
‘It’s a minster, not a cathedral,’ said Rachel.
‘Same difference. It’ll just be a big old church, whatever you call it.’
He set off quickly, with Rachel running up behind him in an effort to keep pace, but before they had got very far along the path back to the main road, they were halted in their tracks by the sight of two people approaching them in the distance. One of them was in a wheelchair: it appeared to be an old, old woman, swaddled against the afternoon chill by layer upon layer of thick woollen blankets. Her features were scarcely visible: her head was bowed, drooping tiredly, and she was wearing a silk headscarf which screened most of her face from view. In fact, the longer the children looked at her, the more likely it appeared that she was fast asleep. Her chair was being trundled roughly along the path, meanwhile, by a young-looking man wearing motorcycle leathers and balancing something on his left forearm as he pushed. The something could not, at first, be identified: but as the figures came closer, it looked as though it might – however implausible this seemed – be some sort of bird; a suspicion which was then suddenly and dramatically confirmed when the creature spread its wings to an amazing width, and flapped them languidly, in black silhouette against the grey sky – looking, at that moment, more like some fantastical hybrid creature from mythology than any real bird Rachel could remember having seen before.
Nicholas did not move, and as Rachel stood beside him she clasped his hand, relishing his weak responsive grip, sensing the coldness of his bare hand even through the prickly thickness of her woollen mittens. Unsure what to do next, they watched as the man in leathers settled the wheelchair in place and then spoke a few words to the bird, which reacted by hopping obediently from his arm to one of the chair’s handles. With both arms free now, the man busied himself making sure the old lady in his charge was warm and comfortable, adjusting her blankets and tucking them in around her ever more snugly. Then he turned his attention to the bird.“


Jonathan Coe (Birmingham, 19 augustus 1961)



De Amerikaanse dichter Li-Young Lee werd geboren op 19 augustus 1957 in Jakarta, Indonesië. Zie ook mijn blog van 19 augustus 2010 en eveneens alle tags voor Li-Young Lee op dit blog.


For A New Citizen Of These United States

Forgive me for thinking I saw
the irregular postage stamp of death;
a black moth the size of my left
thumbnail is all I’ve trapped in the damask.
There is no need for alarm. And

there is no need for sadness, if
the rain at the window now reminds you
of nothing; not even of that
parlor, long like a nave, where cloud-shadow,
wing-shadow, where father-shadow
continually confused the light. In flight,
leaf-throng and, later, soldiers and
flags deepened those windows to submarine.

But you don’t remember, I know,
so I won’t mention that house where Chung hid,
Lin wizened, you languished, and Ming-
Ming hush-hushed us with small song. And since you
don’t recall the missionary
bells chiming the hour, or those words whose sounds
alone exhaust the heart–garden,
heaven, amen–I’ll mention none of it.

After all, it was just our life,
merely years in a book of years. It was
1960, and we stood with
the other families on a crowded
railroad platform. The trains came, then
the rains, and then we got separated.

And in the interval between
familiar faces, events occurred, which
one of us faithfully pencilled
in a day-book bound by a rubber band.

But birds, as you say, fly forward.
So I won’t show you letters and the shawl
I’ve so meaninglessly preserved.
And I won’t hum along, if you don’t, when
our mothers sing Nights in Shanghai.
I won’t, each Spring, each time I smell lilac,
recall my mother, patiently
stitching money inside my coat lining,
if you don’t remember your mother
preparing for your own escape.

After all, it was only our
life, our life and its forgetting.


Li-Young Lee (Jakarta, 19 augustus 1957)



De Vlaamse dichter Frederik Lucien De Laere werd geboren in Brugge op 19 augustus 1971. Zie ook mijn blog van 19 augustus 2010 en eveneens alle tags voor Frederik Lucien De Laere op dit blog.



Hoe zij in elkaar klikken
en hun harten gelijk kloppen,
de vingertoppen tintelen
en de slinger heen en weer gaat
van lijden naar genot.

Hun leven staat op het spel.
Binnen de lichamen
voltrekt zich een rel,
van het gerommel van genen
gaan zij zweten en zweven.

Wanneer zij oog in oog staan
groeien de pupillen en trillen
de benen, bestaan zij
op de speed van de liefde.
Al van bij de eerste kus
was er die focus
maar ook de waan
van de eeuwigheid.




De rook is een raadsel.
Zo goed en zo kwaad het kan
duizelen de mannen in het dal
op zoek naar een antwoord.
Rond het huis
door een soort leeuwen benaderd,
vleierig, aanlokkelijk, zonder moorddrang.
Circe spreekt, met haar tong neemt zij hen
in de tang en laat hen zwijnen zijn,
hun eigenlijke ik met stijgende vraatzucht.
Wie haar ontwijkt wint haar hart,
zo Odysseus
die met Hermes’ hulp
de klucht met een wonderplant bestreed
en een eind aan het leed
van zijn mannen smeedde,
een club vol jubel en tranen.


Frederik Lucien De Laere (Brugge, 19 augustus 1971)



De Nederlandse schrijver, dichter en vertaler Louis Th. Lehmann werd geboren op 19 augustus 1920 in Rotterdam. Zie ook mijn blog van 19 augustus 2010 en eveneens alle tags voor Louis Th. Lehmann op dit blog.



Het paard slaapt in fluweel
en beweegt als hij droomt
van ruiters.
Door zijn grote ogen
kijkt de dag naar binnen
en ziet niets.

Ik groet in zijn stal
het donkere paard
en breng hem in ’t licht
als mijn schaduw.
Waarom en waarheen?
vraagt het paard.

Ik zeg tot het paard:
Ik ben koud,
maak mij warm.

Het paard hoort mij niet
en verwarmt mij.

Tussen het gele zolderlicht
en het gele stro
kijkt de schimmel mij aan
met fluwelen ogen
in een hoofd van glas.

Niemand heeft ooit een paard geschilderd,
wel tafels met staart
die roodrokken dragen.
Of in veldslagen
een beest dat verwilderd
bijt met zijn lippen
en niet als een paard
met zijn neus en zijn tanden.


Louis Th. Lehmann (19 augustus 1920 – 23 december 2012)
Hier met vriendin Alida Beekhuis 



De Amerikaanse dichter Frederic Ogden Nash werd geboren in Rye, New York, op 19 augustus 1902. Zie ook mijn blog van 19 augustus 2010 en eveneens alle tags voor Ogden Nash op dit blog.


Summer Serenade

When the thunder stalks the sky,
When tickle-footed walks the fly,
When shirt is wet and throat is dry,
Look, my darling, thats July.

Through the grassy lawn be leather,
And prickly temper tug the tether,
Shall we postpone our love for weather?
If we must melt, lets melt together!




Geniuses of countless nations
Have told their love for generations
Till all their memorable phrases
Are common as goldenrod or daisies.
Their girls have glimmered like the moon,
Or shimmered like a summer moon,
Stood like a lily, fled like a fawn,
Now the sunset, now the dawn,
Here the princess in the tower
There the sweet forbidden flower.
Darling, when I look at you
Every aged phrase is new,
And there are moments when it seems
I’ve married one of Shakespeare’s dreams.



The Grackle

The grackle’s voice is less than mellow,
His heart is black, his eye is yellow,
He bullies more attractive birds
With hoodlum deeds and vulgar words,
And should a human interfere,
Attacks that human in the rear.
I cannot help but deem the grackle
An ornithological debacle.


Ogden Nash (19 augustus 1902 – 19 mei 1971)

De Iers-Amerikaanse schrijver Frank McCourt werd geboren op 19 augustus 1930 in New York. Zie ook mijn blog van 19 augustus 2010 en eveneens alle tags voor Frank McCourt op dit blog.

Uit: Tis

“I’d sit on that deck chair and look into my head to see myself cycling around Limerick City and out into the country delivering telegrams. I’d see myself early in the morning riding along country roads with the mist rising in the fields and cows giving me the odd moo and dogs coming at me till I drove them away with rocks. I’d hear babies in farmhouses crying for their mothers and farmers whacking cows back to the fields after the milking.
And I’d start crying to myself on that deck chair with the gorgeous Atlantic all around me, New York ahead, city of my dreams where I’d have the golden tan, the dazzling white teeth. I’d wonder what in God’s name was wrong with me that I should be missing Limerick already, city of gray miseries, the place where I dreamed of escape to New York. I’d hear my mother’s warning, The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.
There were to be fourteen passengers on the ship but one canceled and we had to sail with an unlucky number. The first night out the captain stood up at dinner and welcomed us. He laughed and said he wasn’t superstitious over the number of passengers but since there was a priest among us wouldn’t it be lovely if His Reverence would say a prayer to come between us and all harm. The priest was a plump little man, born in Ireland, but so long in his Los Angeles parish he had no trace of an Irish accent. When he got up to say a prayer and blessed himself four passengers kept their hands in their laps and that told me they were Protestants. My mother used to say you could spot Protestants a mile away by their reserved manner. The priest asked Our Lord to look down on us with pity and love, that whatever happened on these stormy seas we were ready to be enfolded forever in His Divine Bosom. An old Protestant reached for his wife’s hand. She smiled and shook her head back at him and he smiled, too, as if to say, Don’t worry.”

Frank McCourt (19 augustus 1930 – 19 juli 2009)



Zie voor nog meer schrijvers van de 19e augustus ook mijn vorige blog van vandaag.