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Jewish Problems in Dutch Poetry


Door: Charles Boasson.
Bron: Dutch Jewish History. Proceedings of the Symposium on the History of the Jews in the Netherlands, Jerusalem, 1984, p. 363-378.
Over: A.C.W. Staring, Martinus Nijhoff, e.a.

[p. 363]

The selection of the poetry I am going to discuss below is not exclusively mine; it is chosen from pre-selections in anthologies collected by poets or competent commentators. 1
Those who have previously dealt with this theme were engaged much more in historical or sociological research on the position of Jews in Holland. Thus the theme itself meant for them, to a great extent, a means to further this kind of understanding. J. Michman-Melkman found an appropriate expression for that cultural climate of the Jews in Holland, describing it as the fate of being “a beloved enemy”. 2
My original interest, an interest even now prevailing, was a somewhat different one, and the Jewish question entered almost by accident. Reading poetry is an aid in living, like engaging in music, or sport, such as e.g. cycling along Holland’s enticing cycletracks. The need for poetry has sometimes been called by Dutch

[p. 364]

poets themselves, and by socially engaged writers (in the 1930s especially, as a reaction against the rising tide of fascism) “the need for human dignity”. Verwey (of whom later more):

Peoples where a poet cannot live,
States where a poet cannot die
Are fallen to the rubble of the earth.

With my pursuit of poetry, a special angle intrigued me more and more: what makes an endless stream of versified writing occasionally into real poetry? In how far, to specify further, can we trace here the factor of intense identification – identification which the reader or listener feels with the poet, but above all between poet and subject. We may take it for granted that a measure of identification is always a minimal requirement. In this respect poetry and historical research made the same demand. In how far, however, must there, apart from word-power, be a wider aspect, a wider framework, even, as we may call it, a control of identification? Why does a degree of ambivalence often add to the poetic force of what is written? (A very partial, but interesting kind of answer to this question was suggested, as I remember it by heart, without precise reference, by T.S. Eliot, writing in The Sacred Wood: “Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion”). It is only the more mature poet who can achieve this, and the public may not succeed together with the poet in such control. A measure of ambivalence, however, may assist perhaps in better control of emotion. When discussing the appearance of Jewish themes in poetry, insight in the subtle balance between identification, the general framework and a measure of ambiva-

[p. 365]

lence, or at least openness to such possible ambivalence (if not multivalence) can help us. It will make it comprehensible that many so-called poems, including poetic prose, where Jews and their problems are dealt with, could not, and cannot survive as poetry; they are oversimplistic, more like a scream than a poem. These writings did (or will) gradually disappear from those anthologies which are chosen not for historical study, but for the poetic experience as sensed by their editors.
Genuine poetry puts before us the further amazing fact that some poets have a remarkable foresight, an almost supernatural premonition. 4
It may perhaps be suggested that mere identification provides as little poetry as foresight. However, a controlled identification together with insight in a wider frame may do both.
Too much identification may make blind. This again may explain why so few Jews, even Zionists, came to Palestine whilst so many non-Jews, friends, be it understood, and above all poets, saw the need for them to do so: the latter did not overidentify, observed better, and had a finer feeling what the future might have in store.
Thus the poetry, to which I have purposely limited myself, will, inevitably, put Dutch poetry in too favorable a light, but I have no regrets about this. I wrote in my summary to this symposium: “Some anti-Jewish poems were too full to survive”. I would add now that the same applies to some pro-Jewish verse. I shall not

[p. 366]

bother you with examples. 5 I cannot, however, pass by the name of Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679) whom we were taught at our schools in Holland to consider the greatest among Dutch poets, so that I took his complete works with me to Palestine. Some of his work is moving and beautiful or sharply indignant. Let us

[p. 367]

agree that songs of satire or of hatred (certainly those of Vondel) also show some kind of identification, namely with the other side of the coin. Vondel’s religious output, however, contains the standard anti-Jewish statements of his times, but it all is indescribably dull; we Jews were lucky he was in this respect not in good form! Possibly in this (and we find the same in the bulk of later Dutch religious verse, especially in the 18th and l9th centuries) Vondel lacked the combination of deep religious identification and wider vision. Sometimes in Christian poetry Jews were poetically rebuked for their “stiff-necked” and “stony” refusal (“En ghy, versteende Joôn”) to become baptized (like Jeremias de Decker, 1609-66), 6 but seldom with such vehemence as Catholics and Protestants attacked one another. An example is Philip Marnix van St. Aldegonde (1538-98) whose importance as a poct lies in his outstanding translation of the psalms from the Hebrew (Vondel’s versification is from the Vulgata). Possibly he wrote the Dutch national anthem, parts of which really read like a psalm. The satirical venom in his attack on Roman Catholic dogmata De Bijenkorf der H. Roomse Kerke, The beehive of the Holy Roman church (in prose though) has not been equaled by any other Dutch writer. 7
And now, to what for lack of a better term, I call the “identifiers”. It should be stressed that from Antoni Christiaan Wynandt Staring (1767-1840) onwards (Staring being the author of the standard pro-Jewish poetic utterance) until today, “identification”

[p. 368]

must be understood in a double sense: they are, no doubt, willing to identify themselves with us; much more, however, they identify us – Jews – with themselves and their own problems. If one does not acknowledge that aspect, one misses much of what they say, perhaps the essence. A poet, friendly to the Jews, Michel van der Plas (b. 1927) with an almost Jewish pen name (his real name is Bernardus, Gerardus, Franciscus Brinkel) speaks of a ghetto “churchyard” when referring to the Jewish cemetery. It is true that in Dutch as in English “kerkhof” (churchyard) sounds more poetical than “begraafplaats” (cemetery). Failing to see the reverse identification was precisely one reason how I misunderstood Staring, when we read at school his Greeting of Peace (Vredesgroet) to the Israelite (he wrote originally ‘Jewish’, but changed this in a later edition) Tabernacle. It opens:

Wie smalend tot Uw hutje kwam,
Niet ik, gij Kind van Abraham.

Whoever approached your little hut with scorn
Not I, oh Child of Abraham born.

I felt it overfriendly, condescending. However, this remarkable Calvinist landowner poet, living and planting in-and-around a kind of castle (say: “stately home of Holland”), and feeling himself at least as much agronomist as poet – yet only three years ago a new complete edition of his poetry was published and appreciated – has hinted at much, much more than at a simple greeting. He must have received a superb explanation of the meaning of Sukkot and subsequently with this Jewish neighbor residing not too far away, he must have discussed more: the problems of their region, and of their age, when rationalism began to indent religion and tradition. Staring must have found the Dutch lacking in historical awareness and in their awareness of being human and (now quoting Cornets de Groot:) “For Staring to keep faith in the Diaspora is ‘being chosen’ and the poem, apart from its outstanding linguistic cleverness and force as a ‘rondeau’ is much less a greet-

[p. 369]

ing than a confession of his – Staring’s, as well as of those of us all – shortcomings“. 8
The next “identifier” I want to mention is Albert Verwey (1865-1937). His direct references to Jews are in poems and in prose about Jewish artists and above all about Spinoza. Verwey’s whole life is a plea for unity. He has not only “identified”, but he “equalized”, even more than what can or should be equalized. An example we find in his translation of Wordsworth’s The Prelude. Verwey not only translates but interprets and intensifies. 9 I first quote The Prelude:

[p. 370]

Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows
Like harmony in music; there is a dark
Inscrutable workmanship that
Discordant elements, makes them cling together
in one society (the italics are by Theodoor Weevers).

Retranslated, from the Dutch by Verwey into English, you get the following:

Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows
Like harmony in music; there is a dark
Inscrutable workmanship that
What seemed discordant, the multiple grows
Into an
indivisible unit.

For Verwey “reconciles” has become united and what “is” discordant, seems to him so, and what “clings together” becomes indivisible.
Verwey feels the same unity with Spinoza; he places Spinoza in and as an inseparable part of the Dutch landscape; 10 the “foreign” element is mentioned almost only in passing, when naming him “the noble Baruch d’Espinoza”. Particularly interesting, in a poem about Spinoza (of about 1916) is the prayer he describes as being that of Spinoza:

Be Your love in me for others
Be, 0! may I say it, in me, unworthy yet, Your love
Carried to Yourself.
It reminds us of Buber’s translation (superior to that of the Au-

[p. 371]

thorized Version) and in particular Buber’s later comment: “Carry Love Towards Your Neighbor like love toward Yourself” which could not have been known to Verwey when he wrote his poem in l9l6. 12
However, there are aspects of Verwey’s poetry not dealing in the slightest with a Jewish subject, but which may deem appropriate, I quote:

We, through the darkness of our days
Are a caravan sent along its ways
Escorting a precious jewel to journey’s end,
To a place we do not understand.

I come now to Frederik van Eeden (1860-1932). 14 Impressive is his farewell song to Jacob Israel de Haan dated January 4, 1919:

So fare thee well and seek thee wider ways
Your Leader spoke: Your duty is to go
Go with my gratitude, be blessed by God always
My day is sad that you leave me so;
You see the future mysteriously shine
I remain with mournful memories of mine.

In the intervening stanza he stresses that they are of different origin and religion and then in the last stanza:

But for both of us the prophets spoke:
The Lord is love and truth.
If you pray in the tongue of your fathers
In your own country your well loved psalms

[p. 372]

Send your soul awhile to the misty north
Remember your far friends – and these few words
. 15

The poet needing the most careful reading (and he knew it, playing a game of “I see what you don’t see” as Hoornik said about him) is Martinus Nijhoff (l894-1953). 16 Without Cornets de Groot’s commentary I would not have seen the richness nor the actuality and the amazing premonition of the poem Awater (1934). I agree with the commentator 17 that the poet had a vision of what

[p. 373]

was to come, although at the time few people, if any, understood what he called out for. About this poem, which somehow changed the course of poetry in Holland, much was written. One other commentator even believed, in total error, that Nijhoff was praising the wonderful world of technique we were approaching. Nijhoff, however, saw further, writing in this poem one of the famous sentences in Dutch poetry of the 2Oth century, feeling perhaps that no-one might understand what he anticipated:

De schrijf machine mijmert gekke praat,
Lees maar: er staat niet wat er staat.

The typing machine is musing the talk of an idiot.
Read, read on: what is written is not out.

We, Jews, certainly did not sufficiently read what was written out for us. Another attempt might translate the second sentence as follows:

It is not what you from the writing would know,
but what the writing does really show.

A last, more literal translation:

There stands not (written) what there stands
(written, or ‘to happen’).

“Awater” stands for “Everyman”; the word stands also for “AZOTH”: As is for the first letter of the alphabet, Z as well (in Greek) 0, as (in Hebrew) TH, the last. He also is, or rather reminds us of, Moses. Moses was pulled out of the water, “Awater”

[p. 374]

is looking at a shopwindow showing the Nile; later he puts his hand in his pocket and it comes out white. Drops of blood fall (the Nile is remembered). After the poet continues walking without Awater (in whom he first hoped to find a travel companion) he finds the Orient Express waiting on the station. Some superficial readers supposed that he took the train, but this is not so. The poet says “Do not think that this train has any consideration for you. She does not share your joy.” Something more remarkable is to follow. Although the poem is difficult to understand, it is written in rather simple Dutch words. All of a sudden one German word, in relation to the train (after it was already said in so many words: “Bekreunt zich niet,” in Dutch!): “She knows no Rücksicht, she departs at the hour prescribed.” Since then we know what German trains were going to do. Another contemporary Roman Catholic poet, Gerardus Johannes Diels (1897-1956) wrote: 18

A train whistles in the night
Awesome among the blockhouses of silence
There arises a column of misery and fright

But that was in 1946. Also Gerrit Achterberg wrote a sentence:

With blinded trains transported

but that was also later and moreover Achterberg mostly, though not exclusively, dealt with his own grief.
I now come to a poet with a related, yet different, foresight, more directly touching the Jewish problem, and with the utmost identification: Ed. Hoornik (1910-70) who wrote two relevant poems in the later thirties. The poet Hoornik was discussed extensively by another Dutch poet and critic, 19 who wrote, in 1943,

[p. 375]

after having settled in South Africa, that for Hoornik it is also important what is “not written”, or what is written between the lines. Greshoff added: “Hoornik may be too sensitive to become a great poet.” We are reminded of what T.S. Eliot said “to escape from emotion.” Hoornik certainly was one of the most sensitive poets Holland ever had. I quote from the poem called “Pogrom” the last sentence:

Where is Berlin – where the street in Amsterdam –
Could he escape?
The Jewish Quarter is a deep ravine
I see my own shadow
By train it is but 10 hours to Berlin. 20

Another poem of the same period To the Fugitive:

Behind you Sodom burns –
Above you God turns –
Mind the Pillar of Salt
Pray for the wife of Lot.

Fugitive do not look back
The leaves of your home burn black
Flowering be again their part:
Flowering within your heart.

A voice gave you its sound:
Beyond the desert, beyond

[p. 376]

The cave’s hollow
Shall my fruit-trees grow

This sounds like the original Zionist creed.
Greshoff wrote: “after the war” (i.e. World War II, which also Greshoff had been foreseeing) “only Hoorniks’ feeling of fright shall remain.” Indeed, one of Hoornik’s poems is called Fright, about a man persecuted in the meadows towards the water, no bridge to cross. But Hoornik, in one of his contemplations, wrote that “anxiety is life itself”, “a man resigned to death is; beginning to die”. As happened to him in a German concentration camp. (Over en weer, beschouwingen over poëzie, 1962 The Hague, pp. 140 ff.). Hoornik was, some twenty years ago, one of the most important sponsors for the Dutch compensation law for victims of the 1940-45 persecutions. He also knew himself survivors’ guilt, even, remarkably enough before he survived the concentration camp. This reminds us of Aeschylus, who wanted his gravestone to read as follows: “This is the grave of Aeschylus whose brother died at the battle of Thermopylae.” Hoornik moreover knew, from his own experience, both what it was to go into hiding and to survive a concentration camp. I roughly translate the poem in which we find a moving expression of survivors’ guilt (written in 1938):

[p. 377]

Today I want to buy a sportive suit
In the ‘Gentlemen’s Shop’ in the main shopping street,
Whilst trying it on, to take a view
Whether it fits, as it is new
– The assistant says: There is no need
To button it, this suit of tweed –
Taking two steps, a little back
I see a strange man, clothed in black
‘Who is that?’ I think when permeating me
In the mirror now stands he.
His eyes bloodshot I see.
Through the back garden past refuse-heap rows
I sneak inside, of myself in fright
Turning the mirrors in which he shows.

While survivors’ guilt is not a problem for us Jews only, I can hardly imagine a decent survivor of the Holocaust (even when having been in Palestine) without it.
There is one other poet, F.W. Heerikhuizen (1910-69) who identifies with us and helps us to cope with the problem of survivors’ guilt in a poem Justification. I quote part of it:

Do not ask about the fate of one: one counts for all

[p. 378]

And thus obtains his last certainty even at the brink of the grave.
In Israel life is glorious, not because it is undisturbed
But because it compels the growth of fruit from granite stones.

This sounds almost as a referral to Hoornik’s “beyond the cave’s hollow, shall my fruit trees grow.”
Finally, from the topic of identification, I return once more to that of foresight, and to a poet who could not have literally foreseen anything like the looming Holocaust (although, of course, he knew about the Russian pogroms) but who wrote in a few lines a fitting vote of thanks to those Dutch people whose silent unwritten poetry was the voice of their conscience, when they took the persecuted into hiding (and usually only thereby showed themselves friends, not because they did it out of preexisting friendship).
The poet is Jan Hendrik Leopold (1865-1925) a great “minor” poet, a teacher of the classical languages, a man shy and deaf, who wrote:

A friend: not he who takes you close
To his heart at your happiest, no end to his shows;
But who calls the fugitive to his place to hide
And then closes the door against the wolves outside.

  1. It was the commentator R.A. Cornets de Groot, who led me to prepare this essay. Not only his Labirinteek (The Hague 1968) but also his later remarks, to be quoted more fully hereafter from Ladders in de Leegte (Ladders in empty space), The Hague 1981. ↩
  2. The title of a study by J. Melkman: Geliefde Vijand, het beeld van de Jood in de na-oorlogse literatuur, Amsterdam 1964. This is not to deny that some other people are also (and sometimes their own) beloved enemy and the configuration is not exclusively that of Jews in the Diaspora. ↩
  3. Volken waar een dichter niet kan leven
    Staten waar een dichter niet kan sterven
    Zijn vervallen tot het puin der aarde.

    J.W. Schulte Nordholt, Albert Verwey, een keuze uit zijn lyriek, The Hague 1962, p. 16. The selection is subtitled: Een op onsterfelijkheid gerichte wil (A will directed towards immortality). ↩
  4. Cornets de Groot simply mentions the fact, Labirinteek, p. 95 and p. 108. I would refer to the remarks of Sandberg, a poet in typography in the printer’s publication Nu (Now), Hilversum 1959 (repr. in the Dutch catalogue of the retrospective exhibition at Amersfoort, July-September 1962). Sandberg puts the question in connection with the art of our century: “What is the artist’s task, to make life more pretty and agreeable? to provide us with beautiful thoughts? to lift us out of everyday’s wretchedness towards the sublime’?” or “to stand with all his feelers on the look out to taste as it were what is coming to us, long before we, normal people, have discovered it”. ↩
  5. The poetry industriously collected by J. Meijer (Rationalisme-Romantiek-Risjes, Heemstede 1982) is – both philo-Semitic and anti-Semitic – for the greater part of the dull type, not worth to survive otherwise than for Meijer’s purposes, perhaps better served by prose than poetry. No simple classification (like pro- or anti-Jewish) can be given to the best poetry, such as the remarkable example of Dèr Mouw (Melkman, op. cit., p. 57), which combines identification, ambivalence and premonition. Essentially untranslatable as I feel it to be (like most of what I have translated) I suggest in this note its main trust:

    Mijn vad’ren staken blakerende brand
    Rondom het gillen van jouw vad’ren aan
    In wroeging schuldloos zie ‘k hen krimpend staan,
    Gevlucht aan valse ketting naar de rand

    Van’t vretend vuur; en ‘k hoor de marteltand
    Door sissend vlees en knappend mergbot gaan,
    En de ijzige hitte voel ik waaiend slaan
    Om blind gezicht en klauwgebaar van hand.

    En nooit heb ik je donker haar geaaid,
    Of ‘k zag een rosse glans, weerschijn van ‘t lot,
    Dat om jouw vrome lijders heeft gelaaid.

    En ‘k bloei van haat, doom Onwill’ge gezaaid.
    O – kwam op aard’ nog eens de Zoon van God,
    Ik werd om jouw Judas de Iskariot.


    My forbears lit the scorching flame
    Around your own ancestral screams.
    Full of remorse – in innocence – I see the same
    In pain, chainbound where – falsely – seems

    The edge of fire; I hear the torturers bite and aim
    At burning flesh and cracking bones,
    Feeling how gruesome heat does maim
    Blind faces, breaking lifted hands like stones.

    Not once did I caress your darksome hair,
    But saw a reddish gleam, mirror of that cruel lot,
    Ablaze around your sufferers, pious, fair.

    And hatred is now in me astir.
    0 – came on earth once more the Son of God,
    For Your sake – I would become Judas Iskariot.

  6. Quoted from Victor van Vriesland, Spiegel van de Nederlandse Poëzie, Amsterdam 1939, p. 22. ↩
  7. A selection of his poetry and prose were chosen and introduced by Clara Eggink, J.C. Bloem and A.L. Sötemann, Haarlem 1954. ↩
  8. Cornets de Groot is a keen admirer of Staring’s De Israelitische Looverhut (The Israelite Tabernacle). In Labirinteek he quotes the entire poem (pp. 21-22) and adds eight pages of comment. He returns to the poem in Ladders in de Leegte (pp. 92-100). A descendant of the poet, still living at the same place, wrote that his ancestor was not defending the Jews against anti-Semitism, believing (and Cornets de Groot overeasily joins in this belief) that the simple pedlars, butchers and cattle-merchants of that region were never persecuted. Staring’s term “scorn” referred to making fun of the strange, the alien. But Cornets de Groot makes then relevant remarks which I quote: “How could I have appreciated the poem, if I had not known myself what is hatred of Jews, fear of the alien? I am surely not the only one, who in reading this poem felt himself addressed in his anti-Semitism.” Cornets de Groot heard from his publisher, Bert Bakker, that during the occupation they wanted to include the poem in an anthology, and the corrector, who was safe, wrote: “Is it not very dangerous to include this?” and the editor in his comment thereon “That’s exactly why we want it.” The poem was eventually not included, the anthology nevertheless confiscated by the Germans and their collaborators arrested. Cornets de Groot continued: “I looked at the anthology. A frightening feeling not to find that page, to see it suppressed, taken out of history, as if the existence of the poet himself had also become an irretrievable empty spot.
    Was it, I am asking myself, through this falsification of history, this impending on a past reality, that not only I, but others also, Bert Bakker, Kamphuis, Heeroma, and many others, turned the ‘Israelitische Looverhut’ into a poem about anti-Semitism? Falsified history to the other side?” (Ladders in de Leegte, pp. 92-93). ↩
  9. Found in Theodoor Wevers, Droom en Beeld (Dream and Image), Amsterdam 1976, which deals with the poetry of Albert Verwey. Compare idem: Poetry of the Netherlands in its European Context (1960). ↩
  10. The poem is in the selection of Verwey’s lyrics made by J.W. Schulte Nordholt, op. cit. ↩
  11. Wees Uw liefde in mij voor andren,
    Wees, o dat mijn tong niet euvle,
    Wees in mij, onwaardige, Uw liefde,
    Die gij toedraagt aan uzelven.

    J.W. Schulte Nordholt, op. cit., p. 87. ↩

  12. The comment “towards your neighbor as towards yourself” appeared only in Buber’s Hebrew essays: Darkho shel Mikra, Jerusalem 1964. ↩
  13. Wij zijn door de donkere tijden
    Gezonden, een karavaan,
    Om een groot juweel te geleiden
    Naar een plaats, die wij niet verstaan

    J.W. Schulte Nordholt, op. cit., p. 12. ↩
  14. M.J.P.B. Weytens in Nathan and Shylock in the lage landen, Groningen 1971, presents (p. 164) Van Eeden as an anti-Semite on account of a light comedy Het Joodse of de Duivel de Kruimelburg. Van Eeden has too many facets to be thus classified. ↩
    Aan Jacob Israël de Haan

    Zo vaar dan wel, en zoek u ruimer weegen,
    Uw Leider sprak, ‘t is noodig dat gij gaat.
    Ga met mijn dankbaarheid en met God’s zeegen,
    de dag is droef – omdat ge mij verlaat.
    Gij ziet ‘n mysterieuze toekomst wenken
    Ik blijf alleen met weemoedig herdenken.

    Toch spraken voor ons beiden de profeeten,
    en beider Heer moet Liefde en Waarheid heeten.

    En als ge dan op Hebron’s hoogten zit
    en ‘t ritsel-fluistren hoort der ranke palmen
    en in de landstaal uwer vaadren bidt,
    en zingt, inheems, uw zoo geliefde psalmen,
    Zend dan uw ziel een wijl naar’t neevlig Noorden,
    Gedenk den verren vriend – en deeze woorden.

    4 Januari 1919/Frederik van Eeden
    Reprinted in: T. Vesseur, Kleine Literatuurgeschiedenis in verzen, Amsterdam 1953, pp. 30-31. ↩

  16. M. Nijhoff, Verzamelde gedichten, 3rd ed., 1964. Nijhoff refused to cooperate with the German Dutch authorities. Some of his poems nevertheless appeared, made up as if a prior edition. The poem Awater pp. 215-23. ↩
  17. If I had not profited so much from Labirinteek, I would not have acquired Ladders in de leegte. To Dutch readers a warning: do not become too much annoyed about Labirinteek‘s misreading elements of Moses and even, as I think now, misreading that Awater actually becomes Moses. I would say rather: whilst the poem changes its A and its E character into the character of the other vowels, including the “0”, Awater reminds us more of Moses and less of Everyman. And the poet does, indeed, also suggest “Robot”, “dood spoor” which means “dead end”, simply “spoor” (railway) and Orient Express. The commentator, however, was misplaced in painting Moses as a Robot, transmitting Commandments unquestioningly, like Eichmann transmitting commandments into railway transports. Cornets de Groot wanted to annoy his orthodox readers, especially as to their bowing to the “Command-is-command” thesis. The point, not belonging to our topic, is important enough to refer to Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling (in Danish “Angst og Beben”) making Abraham (before Moriah) the hero of obedient faith, not necessarily the best reading, however beautifully worked out. ↩
  18. The following quotations are mostly from the edition of the Spiegel van de Nederlandse poëzie (last part 20th century) ed. by Hans Warren, Amsterdam 1979. The volumes were all started by Victor van Vriesland, poet and critic, whose brother was one of the early settlers of Palestina from Holland after World War I. Only part of Hoornik’s earlier poems are quoted from other sources. ↩
  19. Jan Greshoff, Fabrieksgeheimen and Muze mijn vriendin (on Hoornik: pp. 49-79), Pretoria 1943. ↩
  20. Waar is Berlijn en waar de Grenadierstraat (by the way: in Berlin)
    Vluchtte de jongen toen de lente kwam?
    De Jodenbreestraat is een diep ravijn:
    Ik zie mijn schaduw op de wanden.
    – Het is maar tien uur sporen naar Berlijn.

    Greshoff, Muze mijn vriendin, p. 70.
    Hoorniks final version differs slightly; see his Verzamelde Gedichten, Amsterdam 1972, 3rd edition 1983. ↩

  21. Achter U brandt Sodom;
    Over U wentelt God;
    Beef voor de zandkolom
    Bid voor de huisvrouw van Lot

    Vluchteling, zie niet om
    ‘t Loof van Uw huis blakert zwart;
    Bloeie het wederom,
    Bloeie het midden in ‘t hart.

    Stem, die U tegenklonk,
    Verder dan de woestijn,
    Verder dan de spelonk
    Zullen mijn vruchtbomen zijn.

    J. Greshoff, op. cit. p. 69; Ed. Hoornik, Verzamelde Gedichten, p. 92. ↩

  22. Ik wil vandaag een reiskostuum gaan kopen
    in ‘t ‘Huis voor Heren’ in de Kalverstraat.
    Terwijl ik bezig ben de jas te knopen
    en in de spiegel kijk hoe ‘t pak mij staat
    – u kunt het sluiten, maar men draagt het open,
    zegt de bediende, die mij gadeslaat -,
    zie ik, terwijl ik achteruit wil lopen,
    een vreemde man staan in een zwart gewaad.

    – Wie is hij denk ik, als hij dóór mij gaat
    en vóór mij is en in de spiegel staat,
    als ik zijn ogen zie, van bloed belopen.

    De achtertuin door, langs de vuilnishopen,
    bang voor mezelf, ben ik in huis geslopen
    en hang de spiegels om, waarin hij staat.

  23. Vraag niet naar ‘t lot van één,
    Eén staat voor allen,
    En put daaruit een laatste zekerheid,
    Nog op de rand van ‘t massagraf. In Israel
    is ‘t leven heerlijk, niet door ongestoord verloop,
    Maar omdat ‘t vruchten afdwingt van graniet.

    Victor van Vriesland, Spiegel van de Nederlandse poëzie, ed. Hans Warren, Amsterdam 1979, p. 207. ↩

  24. Een vriend is niet, die U aan ‘t hart wil sluiten
    in uw geluksuur, en zich niet genoeg doen kan,
    maar die den balling bij zich binnen roept en dan
    de deur toeslaat tegen de wolven buiten.

    Victor van Vriesland, Spiegel van de Nederlandse poëzie, ed. Hans Warren, Amsterdam 1979, p. 13. ↩

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