These are no simple walls

Hello there! How is your Dutch coming along? Have you learnt some of the basics already, such as: “hoe gaat het?” (how are you), “dankjewel” (thank you), “wat is jouw lievelingskleur” (what’s your favorite color)? It can be helpful to know some of these and if you are interested in learning more, this website might be of some inspiration (FUN GAMES!): http://www.digitaldialects.com/Dutch.htm

Whether you have a flair for languages or not, you might have noticed the poems on the walls of several buildings as you bike around the city. Some of the poems are in Russian, some are in Italian, Native American, in bird speech “Tjielp tjielp…” or French like the one in the picture at location: Pieterskerkhof 4, Leiden.

These poems are all a part of the “Gedichten op Muren” project (translate: Poems on Walls), which was started in 1992 and completed in 2005. They are poems meant for everyone to read. A translation in Dutch and in English can be found at the bottom. The next time you bike past one, you could maybe take a closer look. You could also take a guided walk with these directions: http://www.muurgedichten.nl/wandeling.pdf (you might have to find a Dutch friend to read the directions, but hey, it could be really fun!). Finally, you could have a look here and see the overview from your desk at home: http://www.muurgedichten.nl/indexopontstaan.html

We hope you enjoy these discoveries in Leiden and wish you a happy Fall week. Although the weather’s been nice lately, the French poem mentioned earlier is one to appreciate on a stormier day (see English translation as well):

Chanson d’automne

Les sanglots longs

Des violons

De l’automne

Blessent mon coeur

D’une langueur

Monotone.

 

Tout suffocant

Et blême, quand

Sonne l’heure,

Je me souviens

Des jours anciens

Et je pleure;

 

Et je m’en vais

Au vent mauvais

Qui m’emporte

Deçà, delà

Pareil à la

Feuille morte.

 

Autumn song

The sobbing tones

of the violins

that autumn plays

wound my heart

with a languor that

lingers always.

 

Stifled and wan

the moment when

the tocsins toll,

I recall the ways

of the dear, dead days

and tears fall;

 

And I must go

where ill winds blow

without relief,

blown here, blown there

as though I were

an autumn leaf.