An essay in rendering one’s own poem in a foreign language, a hellish undertaking. Yet an exercise in linguistic modesty – minor poet, minor translator.

The third English sentence misses the double entendre of the Dutch original; the last one demands some semantic acrobatics. Ai! Perhaps some reader, out there in the icy universe of electronic communication, can appreciate this.



Henk van der Haar, 1975, etching


Two overcoats
For the eternity which etching takes
So prettily suspended

Once worn
Perhaps that one a woman
Virile no doubt the other one
And now – never again

Only the gaze of the admirer
Wears them out



Twee jassen –
Voor de eeuwigheid die etsen duren
Zo fraai verhangen

Ooit gedragen
De een wellicht een vrouw
De ander zonder meer viriel
En nu – nooit meer

Alleen wiens blik dit beeld bewondert
Trekt hen zich aan

Sierksma October 2016

Study Art 2


Author: rjsiersk

Sierksma was born in Friesland, a 'county' in the northern part of the Netherlands with its own language which he does not speak and with an obstinate population to which he both belongs and does not belong. A retired Professor of Social Philosophy and Aesthetics, as a Harkness fellow he taught at Rutgers and Berkeley Universities in the USA, and at GUAmsterdam and TUDelft in the Netherlands. In 1991 he was awarded his PhD from Leiden University on the subject of 'Surveillance and Task: Labour Discipline between Utilitarianism and Pragmatism'. His books include Minima Memoria (1993), Lost View (2002 with Jan van Geest), and Litter Scent (2013). He has published poems and articles in Te Elfder Ure, Nynade, Oasis and the Architectural Annual. Half the year he lives in Haarlem, the other half he spends in la France Profonde, living ‘in his own words’ as the house out there was bought with the winnings from his essay Eternal Sin, written for the ECI Essay Prize (1993). In this blog, Sierksma's Sequences, written in English, he is peeping round his own and other people’s perspectives. Not easily satisfied with answers nor with questions, he turns his wry wit to a number of philosophical and historical issues. His aim in writing: to make parts of the world light up in his perspective - not my will, thine! Not being a thief, he has no cook, one wife, some children, one lover and three cats.

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