powered by Holland at Home
Homesickness can be an intense sensation – a deep longing for the country that you’ve grown up in or perhaps spent an important part of your life, which never quite disappears. If you’re sorely missing the Netherlands, then you’ll no doubt feel nostalgic for typically Dutch things, such as the smell of freshly baked apple pie, cycling through the polders or the sound of a tram.
The two Dutch poems below have been specially chosen to help you indulge in fond memories of Holland, without having to return home!
Memories of Holland
There are several different ways to reminisce about the Netherlands – you can read a Dutch book, watch a Dutch movie or order typical Dutch products from an online Dutch supermarket and rely on your taste buds for that trip down memory lane. Yet by far the most romantic way to recall the Netherlands is by reciting a familiar Dutch poem.
Arguably one of the most famous poems about the Netherlands is ‘Herinnering aan Holland’ or ‘Memories of Holland’, a particularly moving piece of prose by Dutch poet, translator and literary critic, Hendrik Marsman, who lived at the turn of the last century and a spent much of his time in Switzerland and France. The poem tenderly recalls the impressive Dutch landscape – of vast rivers gently meandering through polders and villages:
Herinnering aan Holland
Denkend aan Holland
zie ik breede rivieren
traag door oneindig
als hooge pluimen
aan den einder staan;
en in de geweldige
verspreid door het land,
kerken en olmen
in een grootsch verband.
de lucht hangt er laag
en de zon wordt er langzaam
in grijze veelkleurige
en in alle gewesten
wordt de stem van het water
met zijn eeuwige rampen
gevreesd en gehoord.
Holland was a recurrent theme in Hendrik Marsman’s poems, as evidenced in both “Holland” and “Polderland”. You can find an overview of his poems at gedichten.nl.
Contemporary Dutch poems about the Netherlands
Feelings of homesickness are not only related to days gone by – indeed numerous contemporary Dutch poets wax lyrical about the Netherlands, including famous Dutch comedian, singer, painter and poet, Toon Hermans. Although he never actually lived abroad, he did write a considerable amount of poetry about the Netherlands, often with a sharply ironic and sometimes critical view of his country:
Hier wordt de neus nooit langer dan ‘ie was,
geen uitzicht voor wie net iets verder kijkt,
dit is het landje van het korte gras,
en wee… de spriet die net iets hoger reikt.
Naturally, many more Dutch poets have written about the Netherlands, from both the classic and contemporary genres. Check out poems by J. C. Bloem, Nescio, Gerrit Komrij, Rutger Kopland, M. Vasalis and Simon Vestdijk, for example. Or, if that doesn’t satisfy your hankering for Holland, then peruse our thought-provoking blog, ‘Feeling homesick – should you stay or should you go?’
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then why not visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants abroad?