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yes and no

As translator Judith Wilkinson remarks, the poetry of Toon Tellegen lends itself well to translation, "not only because of its linguistic simplicity - one might almost call it prose-poetry - but also because of a certain timeless, 'placeless' quality. His concise poems sometimes read like parables..."

Yes has a task:
it protects people.
It kisses them and tucks them in,
tidies up the love left lying around
and sends prying eyes packing:
the people are asleep, they've been playing, they're tired.

(From 'Yes and No'.)

No was a small word,
an insignificant word.

It listened to the large words:
Yes and We and Always.

It studied the crumbs of their thoughts
that they dropped from their table.

It was not a stupid word.

One day it crept into the kitchen,
climbed onto the sink,
grabbed a knife
and ate it.
(Words can eat things.)

It was still a small word,
but no longer an insignificant word - that never again -

and it returned to the room,
sat under the table
and listened.

(From 'No'; and there is also 'Yes'.)

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two comments

"Wie gaat hier egenlijk over?" riep hij luid om zich heen. Niemand wist dat. Maar de boktor, die wel vaker omhoog was gevallen - maar dan alleen - had een vermoeden dat hij het wist. "Volgens mij niemand," riep hij. Hij hing boven de populier.

jorrit , 12-04-’06 23:14

that one's hard to translate! something like "who's in charge here?" doesn't begin to convey the rhino's kafkaesque indignation at suddenly falling upwards...

bv , 13-04-’06 00:17

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