Hadewijch's visions and mystical poetry are classics of Middle Dutch literature, and in recent years have seen a revival in translations into modern Dutch as well as English. Inspired by the courtly love poetry of the troubadours, Hadewijch used their conventions to evoke her love of God. And like later mystical poets - St. John of the Cross especially comes to mind - her passion and sensual imagery often blur the line between worldly and spiritual love.
When the new season makes its way,
the mountains and the valleys sleep
and everything is dark and grey.
And yet the hazel comes alive.
The lover may misfortune reap,
but he'll outgrow it and revive.
What good are the season and its joys
for him who seeks love bright and fair,
when all the world his trust destroys;
no one supports him, no one true
to share his love with and declare:
'My soul fulfilment finds in you.'
You fearless ones, whose trust endures
and who live freely in love's care,
take pity on the one love lures
into a dark and lonely hell.
Those who have answers well may fare,
but my heart in despair does dwell.
I saw a radiant cloud arise
out of a dense and darkened sky.
Its beauty took me by surprise.
I lingered in the sun, at play.
But all this proved a dream, a lie.
Who'd blame me if I'd died that day?
Yet all these matters I address
are known too well and won't astound
the noble whom God gives love's stress
so they can taste its sweetness too.
Before a harmony is found
there's bitter sorrow to get through.
Love strengthens and it brings rough weather,
as the adventure will show.
Ah, how it all comes together,
the stranger cannot know.
For the original Middle Dutch flavor, Coster has her collected 'Strofische Gedichten' ('Poems in Stanzas'). And if you really want to delve into it, see the in-depth Dutch resources at the KB and DBNL.