Saturday, March 15, 2014

Amazing Poem by 18-year-old Nienke Woltmeijer for National Remembrance Day

She is only 18 years old, but she penned an amazing poem. Every year, the Dutch government organizes a poetry contest. Youngsters between 14 till 19 are invited to write a poem for National Remembrance Day which takes place on May 4.

There were 260 entries in total. The winner of the 2014 competition is Nienke Woltmeijer with her powerful poem about a tree. Chairman of the jury Anne Vegter explained: “The jury was especially impressed with the amazing image that the poem evokes. A tree that has witnessed it all. Nienke also impressed with her presentation.”

Woltmeijer will read her poem in public on the Damrak in Amsterdam on the 4th of May.

Following is Nienke Woltmeijer’s original poem in Dutch with TipTopTranslator's English translation:

“De stille getuige.                                         “The silent witness.
De boom aan de rails.                                   The tree next to the railroad track.
Omringd door prikkeldraad.                          Surrounded by barbed wire.
Torende boven het wachtershuisje.               Towering over the guard station.

Geworteld in grond van ellende.                   Rooted in soil of misery.
De boom hoorde de doffe knallen.                The tree heard muted bangs.
Rook de mist van angst.                                Smelled the fog of anguish.
Zag een uitzichtloze weg.                              Saw the futile road.
Wanhoopte een eindeloze strijd.                    Despaired of an endless struggle.

Troostend het kind met verdriet.                    Consoling the sad child.
Omarmend de vrouw in wanhoop.                 Embracing the woman in despair.
Bemoedigend de man zonder uitzicht.           Encouraging the man without a future.
Beschermend hen zonder schuilplaats.          Protecting those without a shelter.

Bladeren fluisteren de herinnering.                Leaves whisper the memory.
Takken vertellen het verhaal.                          Branches are telling the story.
De bast verzacht de pijn.                                  Bark soothes the pain.
De wortels vangen de tranen                            Roots are catching the tears.
De boom vertelt het verhaal van toen.            The tree tells the story of the past.
Het staat gekerfd en wordt nooit vergeten.”    It is carved and will never be forgotten”

Woltmeijer: “The old trees at Westerbork or in the garden of the Anne Frank Museum are tangible reminders of the past. Each time I see those trees, I wonder what they have seen over time that we as the younger generation heard about, but never witnessed. That is what I want to communicate.”

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