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Poetry in Translation (CLII): Jan CAMPERT (1902 – 1943), The Netherlands – “Song of the Eighteen Dead”, (fragment), “Prohod la douăzeci de morţi”

December 24th, 2012 · No Comments · PEOPLE, Poetry, quotations, Translations

Jan CAMPERT (1902-1943, Olanda)

Poetry in Translation (CLII): Jan CAMPERT (1902 – 1943), The Netherlands – “Song of the Eighteen Dead” – (fragment), “Prohod la douăzeci de morţi”

s)Jan Campert (1902-1943, Netherlands

The Song of the Eigtheen Dead


A cell is but six feet long
and hardly six feet wide,
yet smaller is the patch of ground,
that I now do not yet know,
but where I nameless come to lie,
my comrades all and one,
we eighteen were in number then,
none shall the evening see come.

Prohod la douăzeci de morţi
Jan Campert (1902-1943, Olanda)

În temniţa ce m-au închis
de-abea mă pot mişca,
toţi în picioare-nghesuiţi,
încât nu ştiu cum voi putea,
nevolnic, să imi fac culcuş,
pe umeda podea.
Noi douăzeci eram atunci,
dar seara nimenea.

(Rendered in Romanian by Constantin ROMAN, London
© 2012, Copyright Constantin ROMAN)

The Dutch National Monument

Jan Remco Theodoor Campert: a Dutch poet, writer and journalist (1902-1943) is memorable particularly for his poem “De achttien dooden” (“The Eighteen Dead”), translated in Romanian as “Prohod la douazeci de morti“, “Burial Hymn for Twenty Dead”. During World War II he lived in Amsterdam were he became involved in aiding Jews while the country was under German occupation. Campert was eventually arrested and taken to the Neuengamme concentration camp, where he died. This poem was written in 1941 and published by the Dutch underground press in 1943, the year he died. He is the father of poet Remco Cambert (b. 1929).

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