The Wanderer

My lonely life wanders in the streets,
Along the countryside or the walls of the room.
No blood flows anymore in my dead hands,
Silenced, my heart has let deed die away.

Cloister monk out of the time of the Carolines,
I sit with a serious Flemish face by the window;
I see people go their way on the sunny fields,
And hear seamen singing along the canals.

Artist out of the time of the Renaissance,
I draw at night the smile of a beautiful woman
Or bend myself over a mirror and observe
The considerable shine of my very own eyes.

A poet out of the time of Baudelaire,
By day among books, at night in a café,
I curse my love and dance like Salome.
The world has its opulence and its misery.

I am a spectator looking out from a high tower,
A space divides me from the rest of the world,
That I see as small and as very far away
And that I cannot touch and cannot hear.

Once my hands no longer moved to act,
My eyes saw all the many things clearly:
A trail of images I saw as they passed me by,
Silent pathwork-play without perspective.

Translated by Cliff Crego
(Contributed by Rozita on Wednesday, February 9th, 2011)
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Also By Martinus Nijhoff


European Literature

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