Paul van Ostaijen
Biography of Paul van Ostaijen
Paul van Ostaijen (22 February 1896 – 18 March 1928) was a Belgian poet and writer.
Van Ostaijen was born in Antwerp. His nickname was Mister 1830, derived from his habit of walking along the streets of Antwerp clothed as a dandy from that year.
His poetry shows influences from Modernism, Expressionism, Dadaism and early Surrealism, but Van Ostaijen's style is very much his own.
Van Ostaijen was an active flamingant, a supporter of Flemish independence. Because of his involvement with Flemish activism during World War I, he had to flee to Berlin after the war. In Berlin—one of the centers of Dadaism and Expressionism—he met many other artists. He also struggled through a severe mental crisis.
Upon returning to Belgium, Van Ostaijen opened an art gallery in Brussels. He died of tuberculosis in 1928 in a sanatorium in Miavoye-Anthée, in the Wallonian Ardennes.
The Czech poet Ivan Wernisch was so impressed by "the genius of van Ostaijen" that he learned Flemish to be able to translate him. His translation was published as Tanec gnómů, Dance of the gnomes, in 1990.
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Paul van Ostaijen Poems
There must be white farms beyond the edge of the blue fields by the moon at night you hear along distant roads horse hooves you hear everything then silent delusion
Marc Greets Things in the Morning
Hi boy with the bike on the vase on the bloom ploom ploom hi chair by the table hi bread on the table
Under the moon the long river slides by Above the long river the moon mournfully slides Under the moon on the long river the canoe slides to the sea
The Old Man
An old man in the street his simple tale to the old woman it's nothing it sounds like a tenuous tragedy his voice is white it resembles a knife that's been whetted for so long the steel has worn thin
Homage to Singer
Swinger Singer sewingmachine Hear Hear Floris Jespers bought a Singersewingmachine What
So the two stand almost motionless in the meadow the girl who hangs straight down on a rope from heaven puts her long hand on the long straight line of the goat that bears the earth on its tiny feet inversely
Rest thus your head on my arm that from your forehead to your lips my eye may glide along the bridge of your nose Rest thus your head I rest my hand on your lips be still
A gentleman going up the street a gentleman going down the street two gentlemen going up and down that is the one gentleman goes up and the other gentleman goes down
The Sailor's Suicide
The sailor hears the voice of the Lorelei he looks at his watch and jumps in the water
Sometimes when the boats of their senses' beat against the ever-swelling cliff of a fragrance that's still open to fantastic beasts