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 >

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