Alone on the North Sea Coast. Adriaan Roland Holst
(Paul Binding) The Low Countries - 2018, № 26, pp. 299-300
Adriaan Roland Holst (1888-1976) set himself a truly formidable task when in 1932 he embarked on Een Winter aan Zee (A Winter by the Sea), published five years later, in 1937. It comprises sixty-three lyric poems, each eight lines long, each obeying the rhyming scheme abacbdcd, each in iambic trimeters.
The voice we hear – surmounting all ingenuities of language and metrics and all unflinching interior analyses – is one of agonised individuality. It is enormously to translator Roger Kuin’s credit that this voice prevails – and stays with us – even as he himself wrestles with fashioning from Roland Holst’s virtuosic scheme and verse-forms an English-language artefact.
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