This strophe of the series from Revolver media is animated by Bart van Brussel. Here’s the translation included in the notes at Vimeo:
Descending inside, passing the layers
of the engine room, greasy, funereal
generators, often replaced
the steps on the iron stair are loose,
No more powerful sense of futility
than in a useless jungle of chaotic wires
unsalvageable organism, a body hanging on,
clinically dead, mummified in its scaffolding
handles and pawls to be pulled and set by creatures with knowledge
gauges for pressure, meter needles measuring longing
still someone’s longing, on board or on the shore,
Someone for whom the ship will moor when the evening falls
Where we are. We can do nothing,
as nothing obeys, we can only walk around
in the hollow echoing hold.
Flaking ladders take us to the bottom,
a cathedral of rust, an echoing grave of kings
To get a better feeling for the poet, be sure to visit the Ed Leeflang section of Poetry International Web. It might also be interesting to compare this poem with Adrienne Rich’s iconic “Diving into the Wreck.”
One of a series of nine animations, by seven different animators, of a piece by Dutch poet Ed Leeflang (1929-2008). Six of the nine have been uploaded to Vimeo by the Revolver media production company, which also produces ads for clients such as Heineken, Bacardi and Philips. Two sections of “Visiting the Cargo Vessel” on Vimeo include an English translation in the notes, so I’ve decided to take the liberty of reproducing those translations here along with the videos (I’ll share the other one tomorrow).
The stop-motion animation for Strophe #2 is by Percy Tienhoven. You can see all six of the Vimeo uploads on a page at the Revolver media site.
This obviously isn’t a great translation, but one can still get a good sense of the meaning:
We look over the railing at the city spread wide
the moon cartwheeling over the spires and towers
The curving roof of the Central Station glistens softly,
In this theatre a ship is the last balcony on the left
Lights spread their light so capriciously
Concentric rings that dance wider in the dark water and return
Heavy pain spreads itself thus in body and spirit
wherever the secret channels are.
The Amsterdam we can hear buzzing with anger
Is not far way but is familiar.
We seem to be forgotten by our fellows
This makes us vulnerable and ready for a vision,
creatures who work on heavenly made to measure goods
In this face appear slumberers, drinkers,
Cast of the same die through poetic simplicity.
As the elm trees lining the canals are of an equal age.
We know, go shopping, go away and multiply.
And a grammar, overshadowed by clouds,
fed by rage, averse to empiricism,
Waves its cobra heads, the threat of poetry is in the air.