Do you know what life is?
who is God en what is heaven
and what time unto us is given
what the words are in our mouth?
What is the sense, can you figure out
what is in us and around
and of death the deepest ground?
Mysteries, unfathomed unsight
in darkness or in light.
Stone, flower, the grass beneath my feet
the tail-light-fish the ant so neat
the atom unexplored the spiral staircase
ascending the deep of universe’s face
of each of flora’s, fauna’s cells
the labyrinths of man’s heart
the fearsome fright out of ages long departed
that stares at me from all eyes’ wells.
God is so near, God is far.
Who shall ever us this impart:
I am the keeper of the keys of It All.
The days are tumbling by
life bleeds away elsewhere
we play in earth and water
a mere clod of dirt, a minute lump of clay
but searching errantly
that loves and mates
that labours and saves
without ever knowing why
whither or how
the whistle of the bird all along
sings this everlasting song
like this poem a nescio quid
I know it not, I know it not…
Luc Verbeke (1968)
translation by Karel D'huyvetters,
affectionately dedicated to the author.
For the original in Dutch