poem of the week: “Sebastian Spider” by Annie M.G. Schmidt


As a kid, my favorite writer was Annie M.G. Schmidt (1911 -1955), a dutch writer of amazingly funny and rebellious poems and books for kids. There was nothing condescending or patronizing about her or her works: she truly knew what kids love and what it means to be a kid.  I read all of her works and knew them all by heart. But of course, when in school, I had to read more highbrow books (her books are more cabaret-like ) and her works were slightly forgotten. But recently – when I found a book of her poetry- I re-discovered what a great writer she was: no-one could rhyme like her, her colloquial voice is amazing and she can adress heavy subjects in such a light-hearted way, that they make you laugh out loud in spite of yourself. Here is my very favorite poem.  I was very happy to find a great english translation of it online, cuz translating a rhyming poem is horribly difficult.
Everyone who reads it, thinks it’s actually about being an artist…but decide for yourself 🙂

Sebastian Spider

This is poor Sebastian S.
He got into an awful mess.


Sebastian stated with a grin:
It’s strange. I’m not myself today,
I feel an urge from deep within
to spin a web without delay.

All the other spiders cried:
Oh, Sebastian! No, Sebastian!
Please, Sebastian, don’t be so silly.
In wintertime we sleep and hide.
No one makes webs when it’s this chilly.

But Sebastian just replied:
Webs can be small and hard to find –
if it’s too cold, I’ll go inside,
and sneak one in behind a blind.

All the other spiders cried:
Oh, Sebastian! No, Sebastian!
Please, Sebastian, don’t make a fuss!
It’s much too dangerous inside.
There’s danger for the likes of us.

Sebastian stubbornly insisted:
This Urge of mine is far too strong.
The other spiders still resisted:
Inside that house, you won’t live long…
Oh, oh, oh, Sebastian S!
He got into an awful mess.

An open window – he slipped inside.
Stubborn, yes, but walking tall!
All the other spiders cried:
There goes Sebastian, Urge and all!


A little later, without pardon,
this simple message reached the garden:
A murderer was in the room.
Sebastian S. just met the broom.



original illustration for “Sebastian Spider” by Wim Bijmoer.
Annie M.G. Schmidt. “Sebastian Spider.” 1951.  Annie-mg.com. Translation by David Colmer. 2007. 30 May 2008.
< http://www.annie-mg.com/huiskamer/over_annie/album_english/album25.html >

Ash Thursday

It amazes me to think that I’m living in a city where it rains ash.

I’m not kidding. Yesterday night the ash rain started. Little sighs from the Chaitén volcano that has left so many people without a home.

Below are pics taken during a storm in the middle of the night, as the Chaitén volcano erupted (link to the site at the bottom of this post).

Chaitén Volcano Chaitén Volcano

Luckily the government is giving a monthly salary to the people that lost everything and paying for their rent while they stay in a city nearby (my city). These are people that have lost houses, vehicles, clothes… they just got out of bed one morning, got dressed and were evacuated. Their situation is still unclear. If they cannot go back to Chaitén, then they will have to be relocated and start over (the worst case scenario) with a government fund (which is never big enough).

A sad, sad situation.

Going back to the ash rain, as it fell, I just stood there, looking at the sky, holding out my hand…

Nah, just kidding. =)

The ash rain is barely noticeable. You mainly see it on the hoods of cars after they’ve been parked for about an hour. Nevertheless, it’s still raining ash.

Chile… what an odd place it is.

*Pics taken from this site.

…as Wallace Stevens put it “It was evening all afternoon”

…one of the best ways, I think, to learn to appreciate the little things of life a little more, is to look at the sky more often. especially evening skies are great.  The sky is an ever-changing mozaic, and I never get bored with looking at clouds.
Now, my photos are just random snapshots taken with a cell-phone, but i’d nonetheless still like to share today’s evening sky:



poem of the week: a middle english lyric

If anyone were to ask me what kind of poetry is my favorite, i’d definitely reply “middle english lyrics”. they have an intensity and a directness which is unlike anything else I’ve ever read, and because they’re often songs, they’re very easy on the ears.
If you know Jeff Buckley you may recognize this song: his gorgeous interpretation of Benjamin Britten’s version of it can be found on the album Grace.
For a translation of some of the words and for more lyrics and info, go here.

The Corpus Christi Carol

Lully, lullay, lully, lullay,

The faucon hath borne my make away.

He bare him up, he bare him down,

He bare him into an orchard brown.

In that orchard ther was an hall

That was hanged with purple and pall.

And in that hall ther was a bed:

It was hanged with gold so red.

And in that bed ther lith a knight,

His woundes bleeding by day and night.

By that beddes side ther kneeleth a may,

And she weepeth both night and day.

And by that beddes side ther standeth a stoon:

Corpus Christi writen thereon.

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