Erbarme Dich

Maria Barnas
Translated from the Dutch by Donald Gardner

An Englishman with gorgeous eyes is tuning my piano.I’m going to do it very carefully, he says.Droplets and leaves are spilling from the elderberry bushin the corner of the garden, sir, like words from my mouth.Would you mind?I think the tree is incurably ill.We might have a slight problem here.We.A humid summer has dawned in my minddear sir, a paralysing heat. Do you have any suggestions?I don’t know what ‘scorching’ is in English.Would you like a drink?Thank you so much.How much?In Brussels I ate chocolate made of gold foiland I wore an impeccable hat.In Paris I rode in a Ferris wheel.I could go with you to London just like that.If I have sugar. And milk.The Englishman plays.Erbarme dich.That is that. That is all.Thank you so much. Erbarme DichEen Engelsman met prachtige ogen stemt mijn piano.I’m going to do it very carefully zegt hij.Er vallen druppels en blaadjes uit de vlierbes die in de hoekvan de tuin staat, sir, als woorden uit mijn mond.Would you mind?Ik denk dat de boom ongeneeslijk ziek is.We might have a slight problem here.Wij.Er is een vochtige zomer aangebroken in mijn hoofddear sir, een verlammende hitte. Weet u misschien raad?Ik weet niet wat verzengend in het Engels is.Would you like a drink?Thank you so much.How much?In Brussel at ik chocola uit goudbladen ik had smetteloze schoenen aan.In Parijs zat ik in een reuzenrad.Ik zou zo met u mee naar Londen gaan.Of ik suiker heb. En melk.De Engelsman speelt.Erbarme dich.Dat is dat. Dat is alles.Thank you so much.

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photo of Maria Barnas
Photo:
Robin De Puy

Maria Barnas (1973) is a poet and visual artists based in The Netherlands. Her language-based work finds its way into magazines, books, sound-pieces, films and installations. She is currently working on objectsand poems around her Polish grandmother, Diamond without an r, a fugue for the spoken and unspoken.

The poetry of Maria Barnas forms an introspective collection of observations and experiences, with a wide range of descriptions -from ‘what one generally fears’, to precise children, rejected psychiatrists and our limited understanding of the universe – showing contemporary life in a stark yet unusual light. The imagery is powerful and evocative, and has a unique, lucid quality.

photo of Donald Gardner

Donald Gardner is a poet and literary translator who divides his time between Amsterdam and County Kildare, Ireland. He has published six collections of poetry, most recently, Early Morning (Grey Suit Editions, London 2017). Grey Suit editions will also shortly be publishing his New and Selected Poems (1966-2020). Originally a Spanish-language translator (Octavio Paz, The Sun Stone, Cosmos Books 1969), Gardner has translated many Dutch and Flemish poets over the years. He published two collections of Remco Campert’s poetry, I Dreamed in the Cities at Night (Arc Publications, 2008) and In those Days (Shoestring Press, 2015). For the latter collection he was awarded the Vondel Prize for literary translation.

"What a rich and various anthology Rinkeldekinkel is—beautifully translated and presented to offer a breadth of work from contemporary Dutch-language poets in the Netherlands to an English-speaking audience. This is a glimpse into the multiplicity and inventiveness of the poetry, language, ideas and life of these writers and their place. A welcome addition to my bookshelf!"
—Éireann Lorsung

"Here is a terrific survey of Dutch poetry right now. Lovingly edited and skillfully translated, this anthology brings to English language readers twenty-three leading poets whose work has otherwise been nearly completely unavailable to us. Rob Schouten has done a valuable literary service and Rinkeldekinkel offers delights I will return to again and again."
—Kevin Prufer

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