[If you don't read seventeenth century Dutch, scroll down to the English commentary]
Kinderlijck - Konstantijntje, 't zaligh kijntje
Cherubijntje, van om hoogh
d'Ydelheden, hier beneden,
Uitlacht met een lodderoogh.
Moeder, zeit hy, waerom schreit ghy?
Waerom greit ghy op mijn lijck?
Boven leef ick, boven zweef ick,
Engheltje van 't hemelrijck:
En ick blinck' er, en ick drinck' er,
't Geen de schincker alles goets
Schenckt de zielen, die daer krielen,
Dertel van veel overvloets.
Leer dan reizen, met gepeizen,
Naer palaizen, uit het slick
Dezer werrelt, die zoo dwerrelt:
Eeuwigh gaet voor oogenblick.
Progression: the deceased infant questions his mother's obsession with his mortal remains, then seeks to comfort her with a descriptus of heaven, aburst with good stuffs, courtesy of the deity. A surfeit, a reminder of the transitoriness of the world of the living, and a statement about eternity.
Images: dead eyes, child's cadaver, wailing parent, greedy spirit, crawling souls, mud palaces.
All in all, grim little versiflage.
In Vondel's writing, the name Konstantijntje refers to his second son, named after Constantyn De Grote, about whom Vondel was for many years obsessed.
The child did not live long, and his death affected the poet so badly that he eventually destroyed the manuscript of his 'Constantinade', on which he had laboured for many years.
This particular poem is somewhat lugubrious; the voice is of the deceased infant speaking from heaven to his weeping mother. It is also precious, silly, and sacharine. One of Vondel's odder pieces.
Some of my grammar school teachers would have thought this poem absolutely delightful.
Not all teachers are good with children; some are a little off-concept.
Vondel is often held to be our greatest poet.
I prefer Brederode.