BOUTADE

O land van mest en mist, van vuilen, kouden regen,
Doorsijperd stukske grond, vol killen dauw en damp,
Vol vuns, onpeilbaar slijk en ondoorwaadbre wegen,
Vol jicht en parapluies, vol kiespijn en vol kramp!

O saaie brij–moeras, o erf van overschoenen,
Van kikkers, baggerlui, schoenlappers, moddergoôn,
Van eenden groot en klein, in allerlei fatsoenen,
Ontvang het najaarswee van uw verkouden zoon!

Uw kliemerig klimaat maakt mij het bloed in de aderen
Tot modder; 'k heb geen lied, geen honger, vreugd noch vree.
Trek overschoenen aan, gewijde grond der Vaderen,
Gij – niet op mijn verzoek – ontwoekerd aan de zee.

P.A. de Génestet (1829–1861)
Uit: Complete Gedichten, Amsterdam, 1912
Wife and kid dead at 29, dead himself at 31, you wouldn't think De Génestet had much to laugh about. Yet he still managed to write a wry poem that communicated with the 30 translators that entered this round.

If Larkin is right that what will survive of us is love, perhaps humour telegraphs itself even more readily over the wires of the ages, as does an all too recognizable gripe at the human condition.

The key to translating De Génestet's ode to the Dutch weather is hyperbole and mock outrage. Many of the translators struck this tone with good effect, re–living their own rain–drenched, wind–swept trudges through our modern cities in his splenetic paddle through the waterlogged cart tracks of 19th century Holland.

The judges particularly liked ‘turns my blood to sludge’, the rhyming of clogs and frogs, and a tendency to even invent new words: ‘spit–rains’, or use the colloquial: John Irons' ‘gamps’.

Francis Jones utilised these features best in an electrifying translation. His ‘newts, galoshes, cobblers, splodgers’ is reminiscent of Larkin's ‘lecturers, lispers, losels, loblolly–men, louts’. He also wisely shifted the punch line of the poem ‘but not at my request’ to the end for maximum effect.

His success was equally evident in the title of the poem – Pique. This captures the meaning and tone of the original, and its similar French derivation succeeds in marking the cultured poet out from the other hoi polloi yomping the sodden Dutch roads.

Paul Evans,
For the jury.
Pique

O land of fogs and frogs, of dung and dirty rains,
Dew–sodden scrap of soil, bone–cold, miasmal, damp,
Awash with unplumbed sludge, with roads like open drains,
Awash with mould and gout, umbrellas, toothache, cramp!

O slough of dreary pap, dominion of newts,
Galoshes, cobblers, splodgers, muddy deities,
Of marsh–fowl great and small, in all their feathered suits,
Take pity on your son: this autumn, hear him sneeze!

Your soggy climate slows my arteries to mires
Of mud: I have no song, no hunger, joy or rest.
Put your galoshes on, o hallowed land our sires
Have lifted from the sea – but not at my request.

Translation: © Francis R. Jones, 2010
BOUTADE

Oh land of filth and fog, of vile rain chill and stinging,
A sodden fetid plot of vapours dank and damp,
A vast expanse of mire and blocked roads clogged and clinging,
Brimful of gamps and gout, of toothache and of cramp!

Oh dreary mushy swamp, oh farmyard of galoshes,
With marsh frogs, dredgers, cobblers, mud gods overrun,
With every shape and size of duck that therein sploshes,
Receive this autumn dirge from your besnotted son!

To mud your claggy climate makes my blood set slowly;
Song, hunger, joy and peace are all withheld from me.
Pull your galoshes on, ancestral ground most holy,
You – not at my request – once wrested from the sea.

Translation: © John Irons, 2010
RANT

Ugh, home of muck and fog, where vile, cold rains invade you,
Poor sodden clod of earth, full of chill, dew and damp,
Full of foul, unplumbed mud, drowned roads too deep to wade through,
Full of gout and umbrellas, aching teeth and cramp!

Ugh, dreary soggy bog, Valhallah of galoshes,
Dredgers, frogs and cobblers, deities of the mire,
Where every size of duck and every species sploshes,
Amid autumnal woes hear your sick son's desire!

Your freezing climate turns the blood within my veins
To sludge: no appetite, song, joy or peace for me.
Put your galoshes on, hallowed ancestral plains,
Which, not at my behest, were wrested from the sea.

Translation: © Paul Vincent, 2010
Boutade

O land of fog and dung, of foul and freezing rains,
O soaking plot, so rife with chilly dew and damp,
So full of cramp and gout, umbrellas, toothaches, pains,
Your roads unfordable, and depths of dirt your stamp!

O dull morass of pulp, domain of drab galoshes,
Of frogs and gods of mud, of cobblers, dredging–folk,
Of geese both large and small, assorted mackintoshes:
Your sneezing son cries out from under autumn's yoke!

Your clammy climate clogs my veins, my blood runs down
Like mud; no song have I, nor hunger, peace or glee.
So put on overshoes, ancestral hallowed ground,
Thou – not on my request – recovered from the sea.

Translation: © Erik Honders, 2010
Lament from the Lowlands

Oh this land of fog and filth, of vile, chill rain,
Sodden sliver of land, soaked in dew–fall and in damp.
Brim full of impenetrable mud, impassable terrain,
Of umbrellas, toothache, gout and cramp.

Oh seething swamp where overshoes fulfil such need.
Land of frogs and dredgers, where leaking shoes plague everyone,
Of ducks both large and small of every race and breed
Accept the autumnal ague of your long–suffering son.

Your viscous climate turns the blood in my veins
To mud. I have no song, no appetite, no peace, nor happiness.
Pull on those overshoes inheritors of your fathers sacred plains.
You who, unasked by me, wrested from the waves this waterlogged wilderness.

Translation: © Christina van Melzen, 2010
OUTBURST

Oh land of muck and mist, of filthy, freezing spit–rains,
Of sodden clods of earth, bogged down in dank and damp,
Unending mud and marl, and deeply mired cart–lanes,
Umbrellas, toothache, gout, and unremitting cramp!

Oh sad and soggy swamps, oh fields fit sole for clogs,
Of ducks all shapes and size, with manners mad or mild,
Of ditchers and of dykes, of cobblers and of frogs,
Hear out the wint'ry whine of this your sniffling child!

Your chilly climate slows my blood to muddy slather,
I sing and hunger not, no peace nor joy for me,
Put on your boots, oh land! in times of the forefathers
Clawed out – without my blessing – reluctant, from the sea.

Translation: © Margaret Skutsch, 2010
A GRIPE

You mucky, foggy dump, lashed by foul, freezing rains.
You soggy plot, beset by cold dew and damp,
Deep stinking quagmires and inundated lanes,
Gout and wet umbrellas, aching teeth and cramp.

You sorry sodden swamp, where wellingtons are king,
Amphibians, dredgers, cobblers and mud gods all make bold,
Where ducks of every size and colour splash and sing,
Hear the autumnal gripe of one bunged up with cold!

Your shiver–breeding weather turns my very blood
To mud, robs me of song, joy, appetite, content.
Put your wellies on, blest refuge from the flood
Our Ancestors reclaimed – though not with my consent.

Translation: © Paul Vincent, 2010
BURLESQUE

Oh land of muck and mist, of filthy, frosty rain,
A swampy piece of soil, with chilly dew and damp,
All fustiness, fathomless mire and unsurpass'ble roads,
All gout and umbrellas, all toothache and all cramp!

Oh dull miry marshland, oh yard of galoshes,
Of frogs, slushermen, shoemakers and mud gods,
Of ducks both big and small, in many different fashions,
Receive the autumn woe of your cold stricken son!

Your gluey climate turns the blood within the veins
into mud; I have no song, no hunger, joy nor peace.
Put on galoshes, consecrated soil of Ancestors,
Thou – not on my request – reclaimèd from the sea.

Translation: © Anna M. Klimstra, 2010
Watery whine

Oh land of bog and fog, chilly precipitation,
You sodden bit of soil, full of cold dew and damp,
Of muck, bottomless mire and dirty inundation,
Awash with gout and brollies, full of toothache and cramp!

Oh dull and pulpy marsh, oh farmyard of galoshes,
Of frogs and dredging folk, cobblers and gods of mud,
Of ducks both great and small, in many ponds and washes,
Receive the autumn grief of your snivelling lad!

Your clammy climate turns the blood in my veins slowly
to sludge; no song, no lust, no joy nor peace for me.
Put on galoshes please, soil ancestral and holy,
which – not at my behest – was wrestled from the sea.

Translation: © Brendan Steenkamp, 2010
PLAISANTERIE

Oh land of muck and mist, of cold and foul rains,
Thou soaked and sodden patch, with frosty dew and damp,
Drenched deep in musty mire, unfordable thy lanes,
With gout and parapluies, with toothache and with cramp!

Oh drabbish, mashy marsh, old sod all stacked with clogs,
With ducks and ducklings flocking, feathers manifold,
With boggy gods, with diggers, cobblers and with frogs,
Do take his winter pains because thy heir caught cold!

Thanks to thy slimy clime the blood no longer swashes
Through my veins, but slush; I sing no song, I feel no peace, zest
Nor hunger. My Fathers' Holy Ground, pull on Thy old galoshes,
Thou Land, all wrested from the seas, – not on my request.

Translation: © Marc Dejonckheere, 2010
Jibe

O land of muck and mist, of cold, dirt–clotted rain,
Small patch of oozing earth, chilled through with dew and damp,
Each field sunk deep in sludge, each road a waterway,
All filled with gout, umbrellas, toothache, wheeze and cramp!

O dreary broth of bog, O garden of galoshes,
Of frogs and weary dredgers, cobblers, mud–goddesses,
Of ducks both big and small, in every feathered style,
Receive the autumn moans of this your sneezing child!

Your clammy climate turns my blood to some compound
Of mud; I have no song, no appetite, no peace.
O don some rubber boots, ancestral sacred ground,
Land wrested – not at my request – from rolling seas.

Translation: © Myra Heerspink Scholz, 2010
Witticism

O land of dung and mist, of grimy, cold rain loads,
All soaked piece of ground, full of chill dew and damp,
Must filled, unfathomable muck and unfordable roads,
Gout filled and umbrellas, full of toothache and cramp!

O boring pulp–mire, o yard of galoshes crude,
Of frogs, mud dredgers, cobblers, mudslinging on,
Of ducks big and small, in all kinds of breeding good,
Receive the autumnal woe of your cold stricken son!

Your tacky climate makes me the blood in the veins found
To muck; I've no song, no hunger, joy nor peace.
Put on your crude galoshes, Fathers' hallowed ground,
Thy – not at my request – usurped from the seas

Translation: © Henk van Oosbree, 2010
WITTICISM

O land of mist and muck, of filthy, dreary drizzle,
O soggy piece of earth, all chilly dew and damp,
All inundated roads, all dirt and sludge, abysmal,
All gout, all toothache, all umbrellas and all cramp!

O mushy swamp, o base of boots for boggy weather,
Of dredgers, frogs and cobblers, gods of mud and mire,
Of large and little ducks, all different forms and feathers,
Receive the autumn woe of your congested child.

Thanks to your clammy clime, my very blood is prone to
Turn muddy, there's no song, no joy or peace in me;
Ancestors' sacred ground, put gumboots on, why don't you!
You – not at my request – extorted from the sea.

Translation: © Renée Delhez, 2010
A MOCKING VERSE

Oh land of bog and fog, of dank and dirty rainfall
You soaking bit of soil, full chilly fret and damp,
With vulgar, endless slick and roads that are impassable.
With gout and gamp, with aching teeth and cramp!

Oh boring marshy mess, with shoes for rainy weather,
With frogs and dredgers, cobblers, demon driven brew,
With fowl brood, big and small in any range of feather,
Accept my autumn moan, your offspring–with–the–'flu!

Your slimy clime converts my blood in circulation
Into mud; I have no song, no craving, peace or zest.
Put waders on, land sacred to my elders' generation,
Reclaimed you are from sea – but not at my behest.

Translation: © Frans Lohman, 2010
LAMENT SONG

O land of mist and manure, of cold and dirty rain,
O seeping piece of earth, all coldy steam and dew,
All dirty musty mud, unfathomable and drain,
All gout and all umbrellas, all toothache, cramp and woe!

O dull and messy marsh, o yard of chunks and clods,
Of cobblers, dredgers, frogs, and full of gods of slime,
Of large and little ducks, in many shapes and cuts,
Receive from your cold son the woes of autumn time!

Your measly clammy climate that turns my blood to crumps,
To sludge, I have no song, no hunger, joy nor peace.
O Fathers' sacred ground, put on your lobs and clumps
You are – not my request – grown rampant out of seas.

Translation: © Arie van der Krogt, 2010
BON MOT

Oh land of muck and mist, of vicious, icy rain,
Oh sodden grounds, full of frosty dew and damp,
Full of mire that's rank and deep, a traveller's bane,
Full of gout and oilskins, of tooth aches and of cramp!

Oh dreary bit of swamp, with your galoshes and foul weather,
Your frogs and dredgemen, cobblers, gods of dirt,
Your ducks both big and small, of every type and feather,
Receive your fever–ridden son's despair and hurt!

Your cold climate freezes my veins and turns my blood
To sludge; I have no song, no hunger, joy or rest.
Holy earth of ancestors, don your galoshes for the mud,
That was recovered from the sea, but not by my request.

Translation: © Bert Keurentjes, 2010
Quip

O land of muck and mist, of dirty, shivery rains,
O sodden piece of land, full of chilly dew and damp,
Full of stale, abysmal mud and inundated lanes,
Full of gout and overcoats, full of toothache, full of cramp!

O dreary pulp morass, o yard of overshoes,
Of frogs, dredgers, cobblers, and gods of mud,
Of ducks large and small, in multifarious hues,
Receive the autumn woe of your snivelling blood!

Your clammy climate makes my blood turn rather
Into mud; I've no song, no hunger, pleasure nor peace.
Put on your overshoes, o hallowed ground of the Fathers,
Thou – not at my request – wrested from the seas.

Translation: © Irene Borgers, 2010
Boutade

O land of manure and mist, of cold and foul rain,
Small sodden ground, full of frigid dew and damp,
Of fens, fathomless mud and flooded lanes,
Of gout and umbrellas, toothaches and cramp!

O boring porridge–swamp, o yard of overshoes,
Of frogs, dredgers, cobblers, gods of clay,
Of ducks large and small, in every hue,
Receive your coughing son's autumn dismay!

Your dank climate turns the blood in my veins
To silt. I have no song, no hunger, joy or peace.
Put on your overshoes, my Fathers' hallowed plains,
You – not at my request – wrested from the seas.

Translation: © Sadiqa de Meijer, 2010
BOUTADE

Oh land of fog and filth and stinking shivering rain,
Oozing swathe of silt, of chilly dews and damps,
Nostril–deep and deeper mud and useless roads
Brimming with gout and umbrellas, toothaches and cramps.

Oh portion of swamp–porridge, Oh heritage of galoshes,
Of frogs, dredgers, mud–flinging cobblers, seeping banks,
Of ducks big and small in high mucky–duck dress,
Give ear to your shivering son in his autumn angst!

Your clammy climate turns my blood in its veins
To mud; I've got nary a song nor gladness nor peace.
Pull on your boots, Hallowed ground of my fathers,
Yeah thou, not quite what I'd hoped for, thou seizure reclaimed from the seas.

Translation: © Larry ten Harmsel, 2010
Lament in Autumn

Oh land of muck and mire, dank morning mists, and mud,
Waterlogged scrap of earth, all fog and rain and damp,
And soggy squelching ground and ways awash with flood,
And gout and dripping brollies, aching teeth and cramp!

Oh drab and sodden marshlands, territory of galoshes,
And dredgermen, and cobblers, and frogs, and mud–clogged drains,
And ducks of all sorts and sizes, know that my fervent wish is
That you have a taste of your ailing son's autumnal aches and pains!

Your climate mired in mud makes my sluggish blood run
To sludge. I've no song, joy, peace or hunger, only lethargy.
Land that our fathers fought for, pull your galoshes on.
I never asked that your hallowed soil be salvaged from the sea.

Translation: © Kathryn Hamilton, 2010
Boutade

O land of manure and mist, of filthy, cold rain,
Soaked scrap of soil, full of chilly dew and damp,
Of ordure, immeasurable muck and impenetrable ways,
Full of gout and umbrellas, of toothache and cramp!

O dull ditchwater marsh, o yard of overshoes,
Of frogs, dredgers, cobblers, muckraking,
Of ducks big and small, in all sorts of decencies,
Receive the autumn sorrows of your poorly son!

Your viscid climate turns the blood in my veins
To mud; I've no hymn, no hunger, joy nor peace.
Wear overshoes, consecrated soil of the Fathers,
Thy – not in my name – reclaimed from the sea.

Translation: © Gerard M. de Jong, 2010
CONCEIT

O land of dung and fog, of cursed chilling rains,
Of saturated soil, drenched with dew and damp,
Of rank expanse of muck, impassable mud lanes,
Umbrellas and of gout, of toothache and of cramp!

O mundane mash of marsh, o galoshes' sole domain,
Home to dredgers, mudslingers, cobblers and toads,
To ducks both large and small, the common and urbane,
O hear from your congested son his bleak autumnal woe!

Your ever–wretched weather slows the blood within my veins
to sludge; I've no song, no hunger, peace, or glee.
Pull up your boots of rubber, blessed fatherland, in vain
Ye – not at my request – thus excised from the sea.

Translation: © the language girl, 2010
Boutade

O land of muck and mist, of dirty, chilly rain,
Saturated piece of soil, of shivery dew and damp,
With filth, abysmal sludge and impassable pathways,
With gout and with umbrellas, with toothache and with cramps!

O dull and gooey marsh, o grounds of overshoes
Of frogs, dredgers, shoemakers and mud gods,
Of ducks both large and small, and of various guise,
Welcome the autumn woe of your snivelling son!

Your wet wretched weather turns the blood in my veins
To mud; I have no song, no fancy, joy nor peace.
Put on your overshoes, o sacred patrimony,
Which– not at my request– was reclaimed from the sea.

Translation: © Elsa Churchill, 2010
Outburst

O country of manure and mist, of miserable downpour,
Saturated sod of land, all sullen dew and damp,
All bottomless vile mud bogs, and paths one cannot ford,
Of arthritis and umbrellas, of toothache and of cramp!

O turgid porridge–bog, domain of overshoes,
Of cobblers, frogs, dredgers, god–emperors of gunk,
Of all manner of fowl in all modes and hues,
Heed the autumn grouses of your flu–ridden son!

Your clammy climate turns to mud the blood
In my very veins; I have no song, no hunger, joy nor peace.
Don now those galoshes, O hallowed Fatherland,
Thou – not on my account – recovered from the seas.

Translation: © Hedda Archbold, 2010
BOUTADE

Oh land of mist and muck, of filthy rain and shivers,
Bepuddled plot of soil, awash with drizzle, damp,
And foul, unfathomable mud, with roads like rivers,
And full of wet umbrellas, toothaches, gout and cramp!

Oh dreary mash–morass, oh backyard of galoshes,
Of cobblers, peat–bog cutters, clay–feet gods and foes,
Of frogs and waterfowl, all sorts from swamps and swashes,
Receive your red–nosed sniffing son's autumnal woes!

Your slushy climate clots my blood to a circulation
Of sludge; I have no song, no thrill or peace, no zest.
Don overshoes, you hallowed ground, our Fathers' nation,
Yes, wrestled from the sea – but not on my behest!

Translation: © Bert Tolkamp, 2010
Dig

O land of misty middens, of cold and murky rain,
A seeping piece of land, full of dank and chilly damp,
Full of muck, unmeasured mire, unwadable ways,
Full of gout and umbrellas, full of toothache, full of cramp.

O dreary pulpy bog, o dominion of galoshes,
Of frogs, of dredgers' men, of cobblers and muckrakers,
Of various waterfowl, assorted ducks and drakes,
Hear the wintry woes of your son laid low with chills.

Your clammy climate renders the blood of my veins
To mud; I have no song, no appetite, no joy, and no content.
Pull on those galoshes, o consecrated land of our fathers,
Through no request of mine unentwrangled from the sea.

Translation: © Maria Sherwood–Smith, 2010
Boutade

Land of muck and fog, of grimy, freezing rain,
Bedraggled piece of ground, full of chilly dew and damp,
Of musty, unfathomable mud and unfordable lanes,
Of gout and umbrellas, toothache and cramp!

Drab porridge–swamp, farmyard of galoshes,
Of frogs, dredgers, cobblers, mudgods everyone,
Of ducks large and small, in all sorts of fashions,
Accept the autumnal woe of your sniffling son!

Your clammy climate turns the blood in my veins
To sludge; I have no song, no hunger, no joy, no peace.
Pull galoshes on, sacred ground of the Fathers,
You – not on my request – are reclaimed from the sea.

Translation: © Sari Cunningham, 2010
Contagion

O land of muck and mist, of foul and freezing rain,
Waterlogged allotment, of chilling dew and damp,
All vile unending sludge and intraversible trails,
All bunions and umbrellas, all toothache and all cramp!

O dull slurry–marsh, domain of worn galoshes
Of frogs, cobblers, waders, quagmire sires
Of ducks both great and small, in all manner of attires
Receive the coughs and sneezes of your cold contagious son!

Your clammy climate turns to mud the blood
In all my veins; I have no song or appetite, no happiness or peace.
Pull on those galoshes, o blessed earth of Elders,
I never asked for you to be wrested from the seas.

Translation: © Lornie Jones, 2010
A Pleasantry

Oh land of muck and mist, of wretched rain downpouring,
Oh swampy little land, all veiled in dew and damp,
Where unplumbed bogs abound, and roads are overflowing,
All brollies raised aloft, all toothache, gout and cramp!

Oh dismal, oozy mire, oh stronghold of galoshes,
Of cobblers, dredgers, frogs – all mud-gods every one,
Of ducks both large and small, of all degrees and colours,
Hark to the autumn plaint of your cold–ridden son!

Your dank and clammy clime has made my blood run muddy;
No song, no appetite, no peace, no joy for me.
Get your galoshes on, ancestral soil so holy,
You – not at my request – once wrested from the sea.

Translation: © Maureen O'Toole, 2010
Holland

O land of mist and mire, of vile, bone–drenching rain,
You sodden bit of earth, domain of dew and damp,
Composed of un–plumbed mud, and dank terrain,
O land of gout and brollies, of toothache and of cramp!

O sly morass of sludge, oh garden of galoshes,
Of frogs and drains, and gods who sunlight shun,
Of ducks and drakes, and flats where slurry sloshes,
Here's an ode to autumn, from your colded son!

Your chilly climate turns my blood to mud
Inside my veins. I've neither song nor glee.
Put on your rubber boots, you hallowed sod,
You – not at my request – once wrested from the sea.

Translation: © Barbara Cowan, 2010