At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Imagine the scene.... a smelly, smoke-filled tavern near the Spui square in Amsterdam nearly four centuries ago. A youngish fellow (Bredero), with a sharp intelligent face, happily recites his latest poem. It is an appalling slander of a person known to all, and very eloquent. There is much laughter and applause, and rounds of drink provided, if only he will recite it again. And one more time.

Unfortunately some friends of the butt of this verse are present and a violent riot ensues, in which the smart-aleck poet barely escapes with his life.
Follows a quick paraphrasis of the poem in question - Dutch first, English immediately underneath each line.

Daer ick gister avond quam
What I observed last night...

De Gierighe Gerrit, die lebbige dief,
[Penurious Jerry, that lusty thief, ]
Die vrijt nu zijns ghelijck,
[Is courting now an ugly bitch.]
Wangt hy het Modde van Gompen lief,
[He is enamoured of 'Muddy' from Gompen, ]
Die leelijck is en rijck.
[Who is horrible, but rich. ]

Sy het ien asingt ruym van vel,
[There is a peculiarity to her skin, ]
Niet muisvael, noch niet bongt,
[Tis neither mousy nor ruddy, ]
Na 't rotte-graeu gelijcket wel,
[But appears rotten grey, and seems ]
Maer swart wst inde grongt.
[To border on the hue of clay. ]

Haer tangden zijn Kastangie bruyn,
[Her teeth are chestnut brown, ]
Heur lippen pimpelpaers,
[Her lips are pimple-purple. ]
Se het ien veurhooft tot heur kruyn,
[Her forehead extends unto her crown, ]
En hier en daer wat haers.
[With here and there... some hair. ]

In haer vermaelde wangen blieck,
[In her pale marble-like cheeks, ]
En in heur moye kin,
[And in her monumental chin, ]
Daet sietmen 't leger vande Grieck
[Are vistas that recall the Greeks... ]
En trotsche Troyen in.
[Most particularly the sack of Troy. ]

Se is geborst, gebuyckt, gebilt
[She is breasted, bellied, buttocked, ]
En louter inde vangh,
[Generously, and way too broad. ]
Praet van Rosbaijer soo ghy wilt,
[Speak of your famous steeds, ]
Dees het ien ander gangh.
[This one lumbers like a carter's nag. ]

Dit monstrum oft gediert
[This monstrous exemplar, this ghastly beast, ]
Dat voert soo hooghen pracht,
[Adorned with an excess of fripperies, ]
Daer wordt ghien snof, gien snee versiert,
[There is no frill, ribbon, or fashionable tuck, ]
Of't is heur daegh'lijcx dracht.
[That she doesn't wear each day.]

Gerrit is wat root en wat blaeu,
[Jerry is a bit ruddy, a bit blue, ]
Wat paers, wat kakelbongt,
[Purplish, and mottled; ]
Sen tangden an ien wouw klaeu
[His teeth, like misplaced claws, ]
Staen averechts in sen mongt.
[Stand at right angles to his jaws. ]

Hy sieter no soo Jongetjes uyt,
[He still looks quite youngish, ]
Wangt hy het corts ehaert,
[Short of hair, a youthfull cut... ]
Na dat hy schoon wat uyt eruyt,
[But half of his chin hairs have fallen out, ]
Kreegh hy sen twiede baert.
[And he's got a veritable pelt from the neck down. ]

Hy is soo anxstelijcke moy,
[He is indeed so gut-wrenchingly ugly, ]
Men vreest datmen hun siet,
[That he terrifies at first glance. ]
Sijn Vaer het brieven van Octroy,
[His daddy, who owns the 'copyright' on this product, ]
Men macht na-drucken niet.
[Is forbidden to ever reproduce it again. ]

So yemandt noch een stempel vindt,
[If any should ever find the molds (from which these two were made) ]
Die kaptse vry an twee
[Feel free to split them in two, ]
En drijftse met die woeste wint
[And cast them to the winds, ]
Diep inde Zuyer Zee.
[Deep in the middle of the Yssel lake. ]

Gerbrandt Adriaensz. Bredero (1585-1618)



  • At 8:10 AM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said…


    I wrote a paper for an Irish Language and Culture class in college, comparing Irish caoine and Hebrew qina literatures (for the sole reason that the two languages' words for "lamentation poem" sound amusingly similar).

    One of the Irish poems i wrote about was Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire (in a different translation than the one down there), which includes the lines:
    when you went in cities...
    the wives of the merchants
    all bowed down to you
    for they knew in their hearts
    what a fine man in bed you were


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