Avond op het land
Sloten vol groene paletten: uit elk duimgat
steekt een in gele verf gedoopte kwast.
Overhemden juichen op een achtererf. De wind
haalt zijn grove kam door het gras.
Achter een venster worden gezichten schoksgewijs belicht.
Alsof ze naar een reeks explosies staren.
Gelaten vreet vee, de kop naar beneê. De verte is bepluimd
met sproeiers die de aarde laven.
Een haas richt zijn oren. Het is de indiaan niet
die uit mijn jeugd geslopen komt.
Huiswaarts fiets ik. Zwijgend.
Zo komen er nooit vliegen in mijn mond.
Listen to this poem in Dutch.
Voiced by: Lex van Iterson
This poem in 60 seconds
On a nice summer’s eve, Leiden resident Cees van Hoore is cycling to the village of Koudekerk through the countryside commonly called ‘het Groene Hart’ (the Green Heart). During this bike ride, he is inspirited by the beautiful nature surrounding him. In this poem, Van Hoore gives the reader the opportunity to experience this bike ride for themselves. Look through the eyes of Van Hoore and see the poetry of the countryside pass you by.
Want to know more? On this website you can listen to the poem, discover its origins and its author and find out what the poem means to the people of Leiden.
Cees van Hoore
Den Haag 1949
Cees van Hoore is a journalist, art editor and writer of columns and short stories who settled in Leiden in 1983. That same year his first collection of poetry called Groot Licht (big light) was published. Van Hoore was awarded the incentive prize of the Dutch Foundation for Literature. Since then he has published around twenty books: collections of poetry, collections of stories and columns, and the romance novel Zo’n vader (such a father). Readers of his work call it associative, analytic and creative.
In his works, World War II plays a prominent role. Van Hoore tracked down war criminals and wrote dozens of articles about the war, the Holocaust, and the great art theft of De Lakenhal, which is now a museum.
Van Hoore’s recent poetry is extremely personal. In it, he discusses his battle with cancer and the effect of the drug dexamethasone on his body and soul.
What's this poem about?
In this poem the reader is looking through the eyes of Cees van Hoore at the countryside surrounding Leiden. As he is cycling, new scenes continually appear: “Ditches filled with green palettes,” “Shirts whoop in a back yard,” “The wind rakes its coarse-toothed comb through the grass.” These are scenes that cannot exist in reality: shirts do not whoop, and we are not sure if cattle can feel “resigned.” Van Hoore conjures up the landscape as he experienced it before your mind’s eye.
The poem Avond op het land (Country evening) is a visual narrative of a lovely bike ride. Van Hoore: “the poem came to me after a long bike ride from old Leiderdorp to Koudekerk aan den Rijn. In Koudekerk I turned left into ‘het Groene Hart’ (the Green Heart) and there I saw the flashes of a television behind a farmhouse window, and I heard the sound of the sprinklers.”
Share your story
Does this poem hold a special place in your heart? For example, do you remember when you first read the poem? Or did you come across it someplace unexpected? Let us know! We would love to add your story to our website.
Cees van Hoorde in Leiden
This poem is a poetic account of scenes experienced in the surrounding area of Leiden. It was applied to the wall at Kiekendiefhorst 1 in 2000, but unfortunately it has not withstood the test of time. Also depicted were a yellow iris and cat’s tail, flowers Van Hoore encountered on his bike ride.
Van Hoore in downtown Leiden
A second poem by Cees van Hoore was placed on Leiden City Hall in June 2014. This is a collage of six different texts in which the phrase ‘Het Woord is Machteloos’ (The word is powerless) stands out. Van Hoore himself is more proud of the poem Avond op het land (Country evening) than the collage on City Hall.
Note: unfortunately, this poem is no longer on the wall, though may be restored in the future.
I think I am first and foremost a realist who, with his work, wants to create the illusion for the reader that there is more than just flesh and bone.
Cees van Hoore
- This poem first appeared in 1984 under a slightly longer title Zomeravond op het land in the poetry collection Een bon-vivant in de dodenstad (a jovial fellow in the city of the dead).
- Cees van Hoore is keen on the poetry by J.C. Bloem. His favorite poem is De Dapperstraat. Bloem’s poem called Verlaine can be found on a Leiden wall.
- This poem is part of a collection of poems in the Slaaghwijk, a district with large apartment complexes in the Merenwijk. The other poems originate from China, Morocco, Suriname and the Netherlands. These works of art represent the five largest ethnic groups living in this multicultural district. All the poems were realized in 2000 with the help of a working group assembled by the Leiden City of Refugees Foundation and a community association. The initiative was inspired by the application of the poem De waterlelie by Frederik van Eeden on one of the apartment complexes of that district. To stay in keeping with the theme, TEGEN-BEELD Foundation started looking for poems that also mention flowers.
Ditches filled with green palettes; from each thumb grip
Sticks a brush dipped in yellow paint.
Shirts whoop in a back yard. The wind
Rakes its coarse-toothed comb through the grass.
Behind a window faces are lit up by fits and starts
As if they sit staring at a string of explosions.
Resigned, cattle feed, heads down. The far distance
Is plumed with sprinklers that slake the earth.
A hare points its ears. It is not the indian
Who comes stalking from my youth.
I cycle home. Mute.
This way flies never get into my mouth.
Translation: Rick van Vliet
This entry was written by Het Taalmuseum in collaboration with Carolien Devilee. The translation into English is by Natasja Oorthuis. The following publications were consulted: