Charles Simic “So’”/“Thus”

The long day has ended in which so much
And so little had happened.
Greet hopes were dashed,
Then halfheartedly restored once again.

Mirrors became animated and emptied,
Obeying the whims of chance.
The hands of the church clock moved,
At times gently, at times violently.

Night fell. The brain and its mysteries
Deepened. The red neon sign
FIREWORK FOR SALE came on a roof
Of a grim old building across the street.

A nearly leafless potted plant
No one ever waters or pays attention to
Cast its shadow on the bedroom wall
With what looked to me like wild joy.



De lange dag gedaan waarin zo veel
en zo weinig was gebeurd.
Grote verwachtingen op een hoopje,
dan halfhartig nog eens opnieuw hersteld.

Spiegels eerst bewegingsvol daarna geleegd
Gehoorzamend aan grillen van toeval.
De wijzers van de kerkklok bewogen
somtijds zachtjes, somtijds heftig.

Nacht viel . Het brein en zijn mysteries
verdiepten zich. Het rode neonlicht
VUURWERK UITVERKOOP zichtbaar op het dak
van een grimmig oud gebouw aan de overkant.

Een bijna bladloze potplant,
Nooit door iemand begoten of bekeken
werpt zijn schaduw op de slaapkamer-muur
Met, wat het leek naar mijn gevoel, wild plezier.

vertaling gmt

endofthedayx633 john koch

Als zestienjarige is Charles Simic, in 1938 geboren in Belgrado, naar de Verenigde Staten gekomen en begon er vrij snel gedichten in de taal van zijn nieuwe heimat te schrijven en werd er een van de belangrijkste dichters van de Engelstalige wereld.

De eerste vertaler naar het Duits, Hans Magnus Enzensberger : Zijn gedichten zijn van het dagelijkse Amerikaanse leven doordrenkt, maar Simic beschrijft dit dagelijks leven zoals Edward Hopper ze wellicht in zijn schilderijen had kunnen weergeven had hij Lichtenberg gelezen. (Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Duits schrijver en satirist, eerste Duitse hoogleraar in de experimentele natuurkunde 1742-1799, beetje de Duitse Voltaire!)
Jan Wagner, dichter: ‘Simic’s humor is vermengd met metafysica “ Wie ein feines Lächeln in Richtung Himmel.’

john koch zoom

Bij de uitgave van ‘Hotel Slapeloosheid’ (verschenen in USA in 1992) schrijft uitgeverij P, Leuven:

Charles Simic (Belgrado, 1938) kende een woelige jeugd, die getekend werd door de oorlogsperiode en gezinsperikelen. In 1954 vertrok hij met zijn broer en moeder naar de Verenigde Staten, om zich bij zijn vader te voegen. Simic schreef meer dan zestig boeken, waaronder een twintigtal poëziealbums. Zijn eerste dichtbundel, What the Grass Says verscheen in 1967. Voor The World Doesn’t End in 1989 kreeg hij de Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In 2007 ontving Simic de Wallace Stevens Award van de Academy of American Poets en werd hij de nieuwe Poet laureate van de Verenigde Staten. ‘His lavish appetite for the bizarre’ en ‘his inexhaustible repertoire of indelible characters and gestures’ maken van Simic misschien ‘our most disquieting muse’, aldus Harvard Review.

Bij gelegenheid van zijn ‘Poet laureate Consultant in Poetry, 2007-2008:

Charles Simic was born in former Yugoslavia on May 9, 1938. His childhood was complicated by the events of World War II. He moved to Paris with his mother when he was 15; a year later, they joined his father in New York and then moved to Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, where he graduated from the same high school as Ernest Hemingway. Simic attended the University of Chicago, working nights in an office at the Chicago Sun Times, but was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1961 and served until 1963. He earned his bachelor’s degree from New York University in 1966. From 1966 to 1974 he wrote and translated poetry, and he also worked as an editorial assistant for Aperture, a photography magazine. He has been a U.S. citizen since 1971 and lives in Strafford, New Hampshire.

Simic is the author of more than 20 books of poetry. He is also an essayist, translator, editor, and professor emeritus of creative writing and literature at the University of New Hampshire, where taught for over 30 years. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for his book of prose poems The World Doesn’t End (1989). His 1996 collection, Walking the Black Cat, was a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry. In 2005 he won the Griffin Prize for Selected Poems: 1963-2003 . Simic’s latest book of poetry is The Lunatic (2015).

john koch spiegel

En goede raad voor dichters heeft hij ook:

Simic’s Advice “On Writing Poetry”
A few things to keep in mind while sitting down to write a poem:

  1. Don’t tell the readers what they already know about life.
  2.  Don’t assume you’re the only one in the world who suffers.
  3.  Some of the greatest poems in the language are sonnets and poems not many lines longer than that, so don’t overwrite.
  4. The use of images, similes and metaphors make poems concise. Close your eyes, and let your imagination tell you what to do.
  5. Say the words you are writing aloud and let your ear decide what word comes next.
  6.  What you are writing down is a draft that will need additional tinkering, perhaps many months, and even years of tinkering.
  7. Remember, a poem is a time machine you are constructing, a vehicle that will allow someone to travel in their own mind, so don’t be surprised if it takes a while to get all its engine parts properly working.

infiniteBooks of poetry by Charles Simic

What the Grass Says (1967)
Somewhere among Us a Stone is Taking Notes (1969)
Dismantling the Silence (1971)
White (1972)
Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of Milk (1974)
Biography and a Lament (1976)
Charon’s Cosmology (1977)
Brooms: Selected Poems (1978)
School for Dark Thoughts (1978)
Classic Ballroom Dances (1980)
Austerities (1982)
Weather Forecast for Utopia and Vicinity (1983)
Selected Poems, 1963-1983 (1985)
Unending Blues (1986)
Nine Poems (1989)
The World Doesn’t End (1989)
The Book of Gods and Devils (1990)
Hotel Insomnia, Harcourt (1992)
A Wedding in Hell: Poems (1994)
Frightening Toys (1995)
Walking the Black Cat: Poems (1996)
Jackstraws: Poems (1999)
Selected Early Poems (2000)
Night Picnic (2001)
The Voice at 3:00 A.M.: Selected Late and New Poems (2003)
Aunt Lettuce, I Want to Peek under Your Skirt (2005)
My Noiseless Entourage (2005)
60 Poems (2008)
That Little Something (2008)
Master of Disguises (2010)
New and Selected Poems: 1962-2012 (2013 The Lunatic (2015)


En nog een kort gedicht met aanvullend kort maar intens mooi filmpje

Greyheaded Schoolchildren
by Charles Simic

Old men have bad dreams,
So they sleep little.
They walk on bare feet
Without turning on the lights,
Or they stand leaning
On gloomy furniture
Listening to their hearts beat.

The one window across the room
Is black like a blackboard.
Every old man is alone
In this classroom, squinting
At that fine chalk line
That divides being-here
From being-here-no-more.

No matter. It was a glass of water
They were going to get,
But not just yet.
They listen for mice in the walls,
A car passing on the street,
Their dead fathers shuffling past them
On their way to the kitchen.



(schilderijen van John Koch, 1909-1978 USA, een ontdekking!)