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Hear and Read Dutch Texts

See and Hear also: From My Own Writing and
Prayers and Bible fragments

Henk Marsman: Herinnering aan Holland (1936)

Herinnering aan Holland Remembering Holland
Denkend aan Holland zie ik brede rivieren When I think of Holland I see wide rivers
traag door oneindig laagland gaan, flow slowly in boundless lowlands,
rijen ondenkbaar ijle populieren rows of improbably thin poplars
als hoge pluimen aan de einder staan; stand like high plumes at the horizon;
en in de geweldige ruimte verzonken and lost in the enormous space
de boerderijen verspreid door het land, farms dotting the land,
boomgroepen, dorpen, geknotte torens clumps of trees, villages, truncated towers
kerken en olmen in een groots verband, churches and elm trees in a grand union,
de lucht hangt er laag en de zon wordt er langzaam the sky is low and slowly the sun
in grijze veelkleurige dampen gesmoord, is smothered in a multicolored grey haze,
en in alle gewesten wordt de stem van het water and in all parts the voice of the sea
met zijn eeuwige rampen gevreesd en gehoord. is heard and feared, spelling disaster eternally.
hear the complete poem (ca 300K)

[picture of a ship on a river]
rijnaak click to hear 2 (the river ship type in the picture)
(In Dutch, 'Holland' means the Western part of The Netherlands, North of the rivers delta, at the sea. At independence (ca. 1600), the country was a federal republic called 'The Seven United Provinces' but Holland was (and is) always the most important part.)

Piet Hein

Piet Hein captured the Spanish Silver Fleet off Cuba in 1628.

[a picture of a bust statue]
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Piet Hein, Piet Hein,
Piet Hein zijn naam is klein, ... his name is short
Zijn daden benne groot, His actions ('deeds') are big ('benne' is a slang version of 'to be' (note the similarity))
Zijn daden benne groot,
Hij heeft gewonnen de Zilvervloot. He has captured ('won') the Silver Fleet
Hij heeft gewonnen, gewonnen de Zilvervloot,
Hij heeft gewonnen de Zilvervloot.
hear (ca 250K)

Multatuli: Max Havelaar

Multatuli click to hear 2 (Latin: 'I have carried, suffered much') was the pen name of Eduard Douwes Dekker click to hear 2 who resigned from his position in the colonial bureaucracy of the Dutch Indies (now Indonesia) in protest over the exploitation of the indigenous population, in particular the free hand given local rulers in dealing with their subjects. Multatuli's 1860 novel Max Havelaar click to hear is a slightly fictionalized account of his experiences. It is still considered one of the best, if not the best book in Dutch literature. His sentences are a bit long, but his language is very lively.
The book's first paragraphs introduce the dour narrator of the first chapters Batavus Droogstoppel click to hear.
Douwes Dekker's spelling is a bit idiosyncratic. For instance, he writes koffi for koffie, and Y for IJ, like in myn for mijn.
from: Multatuli: Max Havelaar click to hear
I am a dealer in coffee, and live at 37 Lauriergracht. Ik ben makelaar in koffi, en woon op de Lauriergracht no 37. click to hear
I am not in the habit of writing novels, or things like that, and it has taken me some time, before I took the step of ordering a few extra reams of paper, and started the work that you, dear reader, have just picked up, and that you should read if you are a coffee dealer, and also if you're something else. Het is myn gewoonte niet, romans te schryven, of zulke dingen, en het heeft dan ook lang geduurd, voor ik er toe overging een paar riem papier extra te bestellen, en het werk aan te vangen, dat gy, lieve lezer, zo-even in de hand hebt genomen, en dat ge lezen moet als ge makelaar in koffi zyt, of als ge wat anders zyt. click to hear
Not only that I've never written something like a novel, but I don't even like to read things like that, because I am a businessman. Niet alleen dat ik nooit iets schreef dat naar een roman geleek, maar ik houd er zelfs niet van, iets dergelyks te lezen, omdat ik een man van zaken ben. click to hear
For years already I've wondered what the good of those things is, and I'm amazed at the impudence of poets and novelists spinning their tales of things that never happened, and usually cannot really happen. Sedert jaren vraag ik my af, waartoe zulke dingen dienen, en ik sta verbaasd over de onbeschaamdheid waarmede een dichter of romanverteller u iets op de mouw durft spelden, dat nooit gebeurd is, en meestal niet gebeuren kan. click to hear
If I in my business -- I am a dealer in coffee, and live at 37 Lauriergracht -- would make a statement to a 'principal' -- a 'principal' is a seller of coffee -- that contained just a few of the fictions that constitute the main part of poems and novels, he would switch to Busselinck & Waterman right away. Als ik in myn vak -- ik ben makelaar in koffi, en woon op de Lauriergracht no 37 -- aan een principaal -- een principaal is iemand die koffi verkoopt -- een opgave deed waarin maar een klein gedeelte der onwaarheden voorkwam, die in gedichten en romans de hoofdzaak uitmaken, zou hy terstond Busselinck & Waterman nemen. click to hear
They are dealers in coffee like me, but there's no need for you to know their address. Dat zyn ook makelaars in koffi, doch hun adres behoeft ge niet te weten. click to hear
Therefore, I will not write novels or make other false statements. Ik pas er dus wel op, dat ik geen romans schryf, of andere valse opgaven doe. click to hear
I have often noted that people who are engaged in such things usually end up badly. Ik heb dan ook altyd opgemerkt dat mensen die zich met zo-iets inlaten, gewoonlyk slecht wegkomen. click to hear
I am 43 years old, and I have been going to the Exchange for twenty years, so I can step forward, if an experienced person is called for. Ik ben drie en veertig jaren oud, bezoek sedert twintig jaren de beurs, en kan dus voor den dag treden, als men iemand roept die ondervinding heeft. click to hear
I have already seen many companies fail! (literally: 'houses fall') Ik heb al wat huizen zien vallen! click to hear
And usually, when I looked into the causes, I thought the reason was the wrong direction given to most people in their early years. En gewoonlyk, wanneer ik de oorzaken naging, kwam het me voor, dat die moesten gezocht worden in de verkeerde richting die aan de meesten gegeven was in hun jeugd. click to hear
I say: truth and common sense, and I stick to that. I take The Holy Writ as an exception, of course. Ik zeg waarheid en gezond verstand, en hier blijf ik bij. Voor De Schrift maak ik natuurlijk een uitzondering. click to hear
It already starts to go wrong with Van Alphen, right away in that first line about those 'darling children.' De fout begint al van Van Alphen af, en wel terstond by de eerste regel over die 'lieve wichtjes.' click to hear
What in heaven's name could that old man have had in mind pretending to worship my sister Truitje with her sore eyes, or my brother Gerrit who was always touching his nose? Wat drommel kon die oude heer bewegen zich uit te geven voor een aanbidder van myn zusje Truitje die zere ogen had, of van myn broêr Gerrit die altyd met zyn neus speelde? click to hear
And yet, he says that he sang those lines of poetry, 'propelled by love.' En toch, hy zegt: 'dat hy die versjes zong, door liefde gedrongen.' click to hear
As a child I was often thinking: 'I'd like to meet you, Mister, and if you'd refuse the marbles I'd ask for, or my full name in sweet pastry - my name is Batavus - then I'd call you a liar.' Ik dacht dikwyls als kind: 'man, ik wilde U graag eens ontmoeten, en als ge de marmerknikkers weigerde, die ik vragen zou, of myn naam voluit in banket - ik heet Batavus - dan houd ik U voor een leugenaar.' click to hear
But I've never met Van Alphen. He had already passed away, I think, when he told us that my Dad was my best friend - I liked Pauweltje Winser better, who lived next door in the Batavierstraat - and when he told us that my little dog was so grateful. We had no dogs, because they're not clean. Maar ik heb Van Alphen nooit gezien. Hy was al dood, geloof ik, toen hy ons vertelde dat myn vader myn beste vrind was - ik hield meer van Pauweltje Winser, die naast ons woonde in de Batavierstraat - en dat myn kleine hond zo dankbaar was. Wy hielden geen honden, omdat ze zo onzindelyk zyn. click to
  hear

Everything and all lies! And that's the way children are brought up. Alles leugens! Zo gaat dan de opvoeding voort. click to hear
The woman selling vegetables has brought the new little sister in a large cabbage. Het nieuwe zusje is van de groenvrouw gekomen in een grote kool. click to hear
All Dutchmen are brave and noble. Alle Hollanders zyn dapper en edelmoedig. click to hear
The Romans were glad that the Batavians didn't kill them. De Romeinen waren bly dat de Batavieren hen lieten leven. click to hear
The Bey of Tunis would get a colic when he heard the snapping of the Dutch flag. De Bey van Tunis kreeg een kolyk als hy het wapperen hoorde van de Nederlandse vlag. click to hear
The duke of Alba was a monster. De hertog van Alva was een ondier. click to hear
The low tide, of 1672 I think, lasted a little longer than usual, especially to protect Holland. De eb, in 1672 geloof ik, duurde wat langer dan gewoonlyk, expres om Nederland te beschermen. click to hear
Lies! Holland is still Holland because our old folks took good care of business and had the true religion. That's what it is. Leugens! Nederland is Nederland gebleven omdat onze oude luî goed op hun zaken pasten, en omdat ze het ware geloof hadden! Dàt is de zaak. click to hear

Notes
Gezond verstand is translated as 'common sense' - literally it is 'healthy thinking.'
The Batavians (Batavieren) were a Germanic tribe that rose up against Roman rule.

'The Bey of Tunis ...' in the 17th Century, the Dutch Navy was able to suppress the Barbary Pirates for a while. (Thank you Daniel Baskin for the 'snapping' translation.)
A hundred years later, John Adams negotiated with the Barbary Pirates and paid them protection money to leave American shipping alone, which Arab nations now proudly present as the first foreign recognition of the United States.
As described by Barbara Tuchman in The First Salute, when on November 16, 1776 Governor de Graaff of the Dutch Carribean colony of St. Eustatius ordered his lieutenant Ravené to return the salute of the U.S. warship Andrew Dorea, it was the first foreign recognition of the new American Flag and Nation. Call me old-fashioned.

'The duke of Alba ...' the Spanish Governor in the early years of the Dutch Revolt.
'The low tide of 1672 ...' Holland was attacked by England, France and two German bishopries in 1672.

And then, other lies turn up later. A girl is an angel. The person who first discovered that never had any sisters. En dan komen later weer andere leugens. Een meisje is een engel. Wie dit voor het eerst ontdekte, heeft nooit zusters gehad. click to hear
Love is bliss. One flees with one or another object to the end of the earth. The earth has no ends, and Love like that is crazy too. Liefde is een zaligheid. Men vlucht met het een of ander voorwerp naar het einde der aarde. De aarde heeft geen einden, en die Liefde is ook gekheid. click to hear
Nobody can say my married life is not good - my wife is a daughter of Last & Co, coffee brokers - nobody will be able to find fault with our marriage. Niemand kan zeggen dat ik niet goed leef met myn vrouw - zy is een dochter van Last & Co, makelaars in koffi - niemand kan iets op ons huwelyk aanmerken. click to hear
I am a member of Artis, she has a long shawl that cost 92 guilders, and the silly love that absolutely wants to live at the end of the world has never occurred between us. Ik ben lid van Artis, zy heeft een sjaallong van twee-en-negentig gulden, en van zulk een malle liefde die volstrekt aan het einde der aarde wil wonen, is toch tussen ons nooit spraak geweest. click to hear 2
After our wedding we made a little trip to The Hague - she bought flannel there for undershirts I'm still wearing - and beyond that love has never pushed us into the wide world. So: all silliness and lies! Toen we getrouwd zyn, hebben wy een toertje naar Den Haag gemaakt - ze heeft daar flanel gekocht, waarvan ik nog borstrokken draag - en verder heeft ons de liefde nooit de wereld ingejaagd. Dus: alles gekheid en leugens! click to hear

And would my marriage be less happy than that of people who got TB or lost their hair for love? En zou myn huwelyk nu minder gelukkig wezen, dan van de mensen die zich uit liefde de tering op de hals haalden, of de haren uit het hoofd? click to hear
Or do you think my household is a little less well organized than it would have been, had I 17 years ago told my girl in poetry that I wanted to marry her? Of denkt ge dat myn huishouden iets minder wel geregeld is, dan het wezen zou als ik voor zeventien jaar myn meisje in verzen gezegd had dat ik haar trouwen wilde? click to hear
Madness! Yet I could have done this as well as any other, for writing poetry is a craft, certainly less difficult than turning ivory. Gekheid! Ik had dit toch even goed kunnen doen als ieder ander, want verzenmaken is een ambacht, zeker minder moeielyk dan ivoordraaien. click to hear
How else could ulevellen (a type of candy) with poetry wrappers be so cheap? Frits calls them 'Uhlefeldjes' I don't know why - And do inquire about the price of a set of billiard balls! Hoe zouden anders de ulevellen met deviezen zo goedkoop wezen? Frits zegt: 'Uhlefeldjes' ik weet niet, waarom? - En vraag eens naar de prys van een stel biljardballen! click to hear 2
Notes
'Artis' is a club that also runs the Amsterdam zoo.
(De) borstrok click to hear is actually a second undershirt. I still wore them in Winter as a child, but it already felt old-fashioned then.
Multatuli writes biljard with D, but the usual spelling is with T: biljart.

(The 'poetry' examples are not translated literally) (De voorbeelden van dichtkunst zijn niet erg letterlijk vertaald)
I have nothing against poetry in itself. If you want to organize your words, that's fine with me. But do not say anything that is not true. Ik heb niets tegen verzen op-zichzelf. Wil men de woorden in het gelid zetten, goed! Maar zeg niets wat niet waar is. click to hear
The weather is fine and the clock says nine. I can accept that if the weather is really fine and it's really nine o'clock. 'De lucht is guur, en 't is vier uur.' Dit laat ik gelden, als 't werkelyk guur en vier uur is. click to hear
But if it's a quarter to three, I, who doesn't have to order his words that carefully, can say: 'The weather is fine and it's a quarter to three.' Maar als 't kwartier voor drieën is, kan ik, die myn woorden niet in 't gelid zet, zeggen: 'de lucht is guur en 't is kwartier voor drieën.' click to hear 2
The fine weather forces the versifier to the hour of nine; any other hour the weather can't be fine. De verzenmaker is door de guurheid van de eerste regel aan een vol uur gebonden. Het moet voor hem juist een, twee uur, enz. wezen, of de lucht mag niet guur zijn. click to hear
Seven and eleven are not allowed because of the poem's metre. There he starts fiddling! Either the weather has to change, or the time. Then, one of them is a lie. Zeven en negen is verboden door de maat. Daar gaat hy dan aan 't knoeien! Of 't weêr moet veranderd, òf de tyd. Eén van beide is dan gelogen. click to hear 2

It's not only poetry that makes youth stray from truth. Go visit a theatre, and listen to the kind of lies told there. En niet alleen die verzen lokken de jeugd tot onwaarheid. Ga eens in de schouwburg, en luister dáár wat er voor leugens aan de man worden gebracht. click to hear
The hero of the piece falls into the water and is rescued by a person about to go bankrupt; he then gives him half his fortune. That cannot be true. De held van 't stuk wordt uit het water gehaald door iemand die op 't punt staat bankroet te maken. Dan geeft hy hem zyn halve vermogen. Dat kan niet waar zyn. click to hear
When my hat was blown - Frits says blowed - into the Prinsengracht sometime ago, I gave a dime to the man who brought it back to me, and he was content. Toen onlangs op de Prinsengracht myn hoed te-water woei - Frits zegt: waaide - heb ik de man die hem my terugbracht een dubbeltje gegeven, en hy was tevreden. click to hear
Of course I should have given a little more if he had picked up my person from the water, but certainly not half of my property. Ik weet wel dat ik iets meer had moeten geven als hy myzelf er uit gehaald had, maar zeker myn halve vermogen niet. click to hear
For it's clear that in that way you'll be a beggar when you fall into the water twice. 't Is immers duidelyk dat men op die wys maar tweemaal in 't water hoeft te vallen om doodarm te wezen. click to hear
And the worst thing with such spectacles on the stage is that the audience gets so used to those falsehoods that they're appreciated and applauded. Wat het ergste is by zulke vertoningen op het toneel, het publiek gewent zich zó aan al die onwaarheden, dat het ze mooi vindt en toejuicht. click to hear 2
I have felt the urge to throw a section of the theatre into the water, to see who was really serious about the applauding. Ik had wel eens lust zo'n heel parterre in 't water te gooien, om te zien wie dat toejuichen gemeend had. click to hear 2
As a truthful man, I want it to be known that I'm not going to pay such a high rescue fee for getting my person out of the water Ik, die van waarheid houd, waarschuw ieder dat ik voor 't opvissen van myn persoon geen zo hoog bergloon betalen wil. click to hear
If a small gratuity is not enough for you, leave me there. Only on Sundays I would give a little more, because I'm wearing my special watch-chain and formal suit. Wie met minder niet tevreden is, mag me laten liggen. Alleen zondags zou ik iets meer geven, omdat ik dan myn kantilje ketting draag, en een andere rok. click to hear
Read more of the Max Havelaar in Dutch, free at Project Gutenberg: overview of formats - HTML

from: Nescio: De Uitvreter

Nescio click to hear (Latin: 'I don't know') was the pen name of J.H.F. Grönloh click to hear, who early in the 20th Century wrote three novellas and a series of sketches that I think are the finest Dutch writing ever; he revealed his real name about twenty years after publication of his first work because it had come to be attributed to someone else.
De Uitvreter click to hear is a person who lives off other people - a parasite. I thought 'scrounger' has the same kind of unpleasant tone.
His other novellas are Titaantjes click to hear ('Little Giants') and Dichtertje click to hear ('The Little Poet.') The collection of sketches is called Mene Tekel click to hear - Daniel 5:23, the writing on the wall, from Chaldaic: 'Judged (and found wanting.')
Nescio's work is usually published in the spelling of the early 20th Century; I took the liberty to modernize the spelling to make it easier for my students. Nescio uses the colloquial -ie ('he') and writes it with single I, for instance: als-i. Most Dutchmen would write this as: als-ie or als hij.
The Scrounger
Except for the man who thought the Amsterdam Sarphatistraat the most beautiful spot in Europe, I've never known a more peculiar person than the scrounger.
Nescio: De Uitvreter
Behalve de man, die de Sarphatistraat de mooiste plek van Europa vond, heb ik nooit een wonderlijker kerel gekend dan de uitvreter. click to hear
The scrounger, who was lying in your bed when you got home late in the evening, dirty shoes and all. The scrounger, who was smoking your cigars, filling up on your tobacco and burning your coal and looking through your cabinets and borrowing your money and wearing your shoes and who put on your coat when he had to get home through the rain. De uitvreter, die je in je bed vond liggen met zijn vuile schoenen, als je 's avonds laat thuiskwam. De uitvreter, die je sigaren oprookte, en van je tabak stopte en je steenkolen verstookte en je kasten nakeek en geld van je leende en je schoenen opdroeg en een jas van je aantrok als-i in de regen naar huis moest. click to hear
The scrounger, always ordering things in other people's names; drinking Duch gin like royalty on the sidewalk tables of café 'Hollandais' at the people's expense; who borrowed but never returned umbrellas; who heated Bavink's secondhand stove until it burst; who wore his brother's double collars and lent out Appi's books, who would travel abroad when once more he'd gotten some money off his old man, and never paid for the suits he wore. De uitvreter, die altijd wat liet halen op de naam van een ander; die als een vorst jenever zat te drinken op 't terras van 'Hollandais' voor de centen van de lui; die parapluies leende en nooit terugbracht; die een barst stookte in de tweedehands kachel van Bavink; die dubbele boorden droeg van z'n broer en de boeken uitleende van Appi, en buitenlandse reizen maakte als-i z'n ouwe heer weer had afgezet, en pakken droeg, die hij nooit betaalde. click to hear

from: Nescio: Titaantjes

[The translation is quite liberal, just meant to give you a sense of what it is about.]
'The Mini-Titans' Nescio: Titaantjes click to hear
We were just kids - but nice kids. If I may say so myself. Jongens waren we - maar aardige jongens. Al zeg ik 't zelf. click to hear
We are much wiser now, it's pitiable how prudent we've become - except for Bavink, who's gone crazy. We zijn nu veel wijzer, stakkerig wijs zijn we, behalve Bavink, die mal geworden is. click to hear
We had big plans to fix things. Wat hebben we al niet willen opknappen. click to hear 2
We were going to show them how things should be done. We zouden hun wel eens laten zien hoe 't moest. click to hear 2
We, that were the five of us. All other people were 'they.' We, dat waren wij, met z'n vijven. Alle andere mensen waren 'ze'. click to hear
'They,' who didn't understand anything and didn't see anything. 'Ze', die niets snapten en niets zagen. click to hear
'What?' Bavink said, 'God? Are you talking about God? Their hot meal is their God.' 'Wat?' zei Bavink, 'God? Je praat over God? Hun warme eten is hun God.' click to hear
Except for a few 'good guys' we despised everyone. Op enkele 'goeie kerels' na werd iedereen door ons veracht. click to hear
Very, very quietly I'll add 'and rightly' now, but I wouldn't want anybody to hear that. Heel stilletjes zeg ik daar nu bij: 'En niet ten onrechte', maar dat mag niemand horen. click to hear
I am not a hero anymore. You never know how you'll need people. Ik ben nu geen held meer. Je weet niet hoe je de mensen nog eens nodig kunt hebben. click to hear 2
And Hoyer also thinks you should not give offense. Of Bekker we don't see or hear anything anymore. En Hoyer vindt ook dat je geen aanstoot moet geven. Van Bekker zie of hoor je niks meer. click to hear 2
And Kees Ploeger talks of those bad men that put him on the wrong track. En Kees Ploeger praat van die rare kerels die 'm op de slechte weg brachten. click to hear
But those were the days of our foolishness, when we were God's elect, even God himself. Maar toen waren we in de dagen van onze dwaasheid, de uitverkorenen Gods, ja God zelf. click to hear
Now we have become prudent, again except for Bavink, and we look at each other and smile, and I tell Hoyer: 'things have not improved.' Verstandig zijn we nu, alweer behalve Bavink, en we kijken mekaar aan en glimlachen en ik zeg tegen Hoyer: 'we zijn er niet op vooruit gegaan.' click to hear
But Hoyer is too far gone already, he's joining the ranks of the Labor Party bigshots and signals doubt with his hands and shoulders. Maar Hoyer is al te ver heen, hij begint bij de bonzen van de SDAP te horen, en maakt een gebaar van twijfel met z'n handen en z'n schouders. click to hear 2 3
What the thing was we were going to do was never clear to us. But we were going to accomplish something. Wat we eigenlijk doen zouden is ons nooit duidelijk geweest. Iets zouden we doen. click to hear (2)
Bekker had a vague feeling he wanted to tear down all offices. Ploeger wanted his boss to pack the clocks himself, and he was going to watch with a cigar in his mouth, cursing out those guys that could never do anything right. Bekker had een vaag besef dat-ie alle kantoren wilde afbreken. Ploeger wilde zijn baas z'n eigen klokken laten inpakken en er bij gaan staan met een sigaar in z'n hoofd en vloeken op die kerels die nooit iets goed konden doen. click to hear
We strongly agreed that we had to 'get out.' Out of what, and how? Actually all we did was talk, smoke, drink and read books. And Bavink was still Lien's boyfriend. Eéns waren we 't dat we 'eruit' moesten. Waaruit, en hoe? Eigenlijk deden we niets anders dan praten, roken, drinken en boeken lezen. Bavink vrijde bovendien nog met Lien. click to hear
Looking back, I think we would have been great as rich guys, but 'having dough' was something we despised; only Hoyer soon changed his mind about that. Achteraf bedenk ik dat we een prachtig stel kerels geweest waren om rijk te zijn, maar 'centen hebben' vonden we verachtelijk; alleen Hoyer begon daar vrij gauw anders over te denken. click to hear
Bavink just didn't understand why some guys got to ride in carriages, wear expensive overcoats and give orders to other guys who were not less clever than they themselves. You didn't yet see many cars at the time. Bavink begreep niet, waarom die kerels zo maar in rijtuigen mochten rijden en dure jassen aanhebben en andere lui commanderen, die niet stommer waren dan zij. Automobielen zag je toen nog zo niet. click to hear
Whole Summer nights we spent leaning against the fence of the East Park, talking on and on about all and everything. Hele zomernachten stonden we tegen 't hek van 't Oosterpark te leunen en honderd uit te bomen. click to hear 2
You could have bought a complete set of furniture if you could have remembered all that talk. There is already so much being written today. Een heel kamerameublement zou je daaraan hebben kunnen verdienen, als je dat allemaal had kunnen onthouden. Er wordt toch zoveel geschreven tegenwoordig. click to hear
Often we were less talkative. Sitting on the edge of the sidewalk after midnight, just sitting on the pavement, we moodily gazed at the cobblestones, and from the cobblestones to the stars. Dikwijls waren we ook minder spraakzaam. Aan de rand van 't trottoir zaten we tot lang na twaalven, zo maar op de straatstenen, en waren weemoedig en tuurden naar de klinkers, en van de klinkers naar de sterren. click to hear
And then Bekker would say he actually pitied his boss, and I was trying to write a poem, and Hoyer said he was getting up because the blue stone made him cold. En dan zei Bekker, dat-ie eigenlijk medelijden met z'n baas had en ik probeerde een gedicht te maken, en Hoyer zei dat-ie opstond want dat die blauwe steen zo optrok. click to hear
And when in those short, warm nights the black straight over our heads started to pale, we had Bavink with his head in his hands talking about the sun - in a strange sentimental way. En als in die korte, zoele nachten het zwart recht boven onze hoofden wat verschoot, dan zat Bavink met z'n hoofd in z'n handen over de zon te praten, bij 't sentimentele af. click to hear 2
And we thought it a waste to go to bed, man should actually be able to stay awake all the time. That was also something we were also going to change. Kees was asleep. En we vonden dat 't zonde was om naar bed te gaan, dat een mens eigenlijk altijd op moest kunnen blijven. Ook dat zouden we veranderen. Kees zat te slapen. click to hear
Read more Nescio in Dutch, free at Project Gutenberg: overview of formats - HTML (De Uitvreter, ca. p54; Titaantjes ca. p94)

Koppelstok's Song: The 1572 Capture of Den Briel

In the early years of the Dutch Revolt, the revolutionaries (geuzen click to hear) were not able to hold any territory, and some fled 'to the sea,' became pirates, who were supposed to prey on Spanish shipping. At first, they were tolerated in German and British harbors, but after a few years they were banned. In a lucky coincidence, at that time a small fleet on the coast near Rotterdam was contacted by local ferryman Koppelstok, who said that the city of Brill (Den Briel click to hear) did not have its Spanish garrison, and then on April 1st 1572 Den Briel became the first liberated Dutch town, the first success of the Revolt.
It's a beautiful story in elementary school history. I remember being told the men used a ship's mast to bash in one of the city's gates.
In my translation I call the Dutch revolutionaries 'minutemen.'

Years ago, Sarah Popiel asked me to record a reading of the poem for her singing group, so they could familiarize themselves with the Dutch pronunciation. Reading the poem aloud, its rhythm came naturally, without special effort - but it's not how people in Holland normally speak.

Koppelstok's Song Een Liedje van Koppelstok click to hear
(A.J. Schooleman, 1871)
In the name of [the Prince of] Orange, open the gate
The minutemen are in the harbor;
Their admiral is not looking for compromise
He demands the surrender of the city or you're done for.
That's Lumey's order, on my honor
And citizens, resistance is futile -
The minutemen are coming for Den Briel!
The minutemen are coming for Den Briel!
In naam van Oranje, doet open de poort!
De watergeus ligt aan den wal;
De vlootvoogd der geuzen, hij maakt geen akkoord,
Hij vordert Den Briel of Uw val
Dat is het bevel van Lumey, op mijn eer,
En burgers, hier baat nu geen tegenstand meer,
De watergeus komt om Den Briel!
De watergeus komt om Den Briel! click to hear slow
There are 5000 men on the fleet
The men are courageous and eager
In a moment they'll step ashore
They expect a message within an hour
Do not tarry but open the gate!
Then the minutemen will quickly and without murder
Occupy the stronghold Den Briel!
Occupy the stronghold Den Briel!
De vloot is met vijfduizend koppen bemand,
De mannen zijn kloek en vol vuur.
Een ogenblik nog en zij stappen aan land,
Zij wachten bericht binnen 't uur;
Gij moogt dus niet dralen, doet open de poort!
Dan nemen de geuzen terstond zonder moord
Bezit van de vesting Den Briel!
Bezit van de vesting Den Briel! click to hear 2 slow
Come, give me the word, I have to return soon,
The clock has already struck the hour.
I'm telling you, if you don't hand over the keys quickly,
Then your fate is already sealed.
The alert minutemen are gnashing their teeth
Sharpening their swords and getting ready
And taking an oath: "Death or Den Briel!"
And taking an oath: "Death or Den Briel!"
Komt, geeft de verzeek'ring, ik moet spoedig terug,
De klok heeft het uur reeds gemeld.
Ik zeg 't U, geeft gij mij de sleutels niet vlug,
Dan is reeds Uw vonnis geveld.
De wakkere geuzen staan tandknersend daar,
Zij wetten hun zwaarden en maken zich klaar
En zweren: "den dood of Den Briel!"
En zweren: "den dood of Den Briel!" click to hear slow
Some are getting out, some flock together
Speaking of Koppelstok's order:
"The town in their hands or otherwise death ..."
The decision for the first is taken!
But barely has the ferryman been pleased [with it,]
Or Simon de Rijk broke open the gate.
And that way the minutemen entered Den Briel!
And that way the minutemen entered Den Briel!
Hier dringt men naar buiten, daar schuilt men bijeen
En spreekt over Koppelstok's last:
"De stad in hun handen of anders den dood ..."
't Besluit tot het eerste staat vast!
Maar nauw'lijks is hiermee de veerman gevleid,
Of Simon de Rijk heeft de poort gerammeid,
En zo kwam de geus in Den Briel!
En zo kwam de geus in Den Briel! click to hear slow
In reality, there were only two to three hundred men on the ships.

Elegy for Carel Fabritius (ca. 1660)

Carel Fabritius was a painter of great promise who died in the explosion of the Delft municipal gunpowder depot of 1654. Vermeer may have been one of his students.
Dirck van Bleyswijck's Description of Delft (1667) has Arnold Bon's elegy to Fabritius that mentions Vermeer in its last stanza:

Soo doov' dan desen Phenix t'onzer schade
Thus did this Phoenix, to our loss, expire
In 't midden en in 't beste van zyn swier,
In the midst and at the height of his powers,
Maar weer gelukkig rees' er uyt zyn vier
But happily there arose out of the fire
Vermeer, die meesterlyck betrad zyn pade.
Vermeer, who masterly trod in his path.
hear (ca 110K)

[a 17th Century painting of a Delft street scene]
Carel Fabritius: A View of Delft (1652) National Gallery, London

A Bombastic Poem (1781)

The Fourth Anglo-Dutch Sea War was fought over Dutch support for the American Revolution, mainly the providing of gunpowder and loans.
Rear Admiral Zoutman won a very small battle at the Doggersbank, but after that the Dutch fleet cowered in port. Zoutman and his men did not lack in courage, but economizing had left the fleet in no position to face the English.

[an 18th-century painting]
Cornelis van Cuylenburg:
Rear Admiral Zoutman (1801)
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
De Brit verliest de moed in deze hooge nood.
The Briton loses heart in this time of trouble;
De Batavier staat pal in 't aangezicht van de dood.
The Batavian stands firm facing Death,
En beukt en scheurt de macht van Engeland aan flenteren.

Rips and rams England's might to smithereens.
Het donderend geluid,

Sounds of thunder!
De Ruyter, Tromp, Piet Hein verrijzen uit hun graf,

De Ruyter, Tromp, Piet Hein rise from the grave,
Uit vrees, dat Neêrlands moed de laatste doodssnik gaf.

Fearful Holland's courage had given its last gasp.
Zij komen, zien en gaan gerust weer naar beneden.

But seeing all is well go back down below, at ease.
hear (ca 170K)

The Anthem (Het Wilhelmus)

Wilhelmus van Nassouwe
Ben ik van Duitsen bloed
Den Vaderland getrouwe
Blijf ik tot in den doet
Een prinse van Oranje
Ben ik, vrij, onverveerd
Den konink van Hispanje
Heb ik altijd geëerd
hear (ca 250K) - please rise

I am William of Nassau
A man of our people
Loyal to the Fatherland
I'll remain to my dying day
I am a prince of Orange
Free and without fear
The king of Spain
I have always respected

It's in 16th-century Dutch with German-like declinations.
There are various interpretations of 'van Duitsen bloed.' In modern Dutch, it would read as 'of German blood,' and one opinion is that it points to William's German descent. I think the 'Duits' means 'us, our tribe, we the people: I am a man of our people' - from the old Germanic word 'theudo,' ('diutisc' in old High German), which the Germanic tribes used to refer to themselves, like we would say 'of our nation, our people.' This word is the root of English 'Dutch,' and these three words that mean 'German:' Dutch 'Duits,' German 'Deutsch,' and Italian 'Tedeschi.'

An Enigmatic Children's Song

There is something very strange to this song: children sailing to England, but England is closed and the key is broken?

Witte zwanen, zwarte zwanen
White swans, black swans
Wie gaat er mee naar England varen?
Who's going to sail with me to England?
Engeland is gesloten
England is closed
De sleutel is gebroken
The key is broken
En er is geen smid in 't land
And there is no blacksmith [to be found] in the land
Die die sleutel maken kan
Who can repair that key
Naar voren, naar voren
come forward, come forward
Wie achter is moet voren
Those at the back should come to the front
hear (ca 200K)

Een Smartlap (fragment)

The 'smartlap' click to hear 2 3 (song of pain) is the Dutch version of bad Country music. I usually sing this piece to clear my throat before recording.

Wanneer die zon weer verkleurt tot oranje
When that sun changes color to orange
En verdwijnt voor het licht van de maan
And disappears before the light of the moon (??)
Dan denk ik weer aan die tijd daar in Spanje ...
Then I'm thinking again of that time there in Spain ...
hear - 2
More Songs: Birthday - Dutch 'Santa Claus'

A short story in Dutch with English translation (and hear some of the story)
The Jacket Blurb of my short stories collection In Jullie Tijd (ca. 100 pages, 1979)

Welcome Learning Dutch? - Lesson 1 Site Map Pronunciation Words and Phrases Hear Dutch Names

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