Dapper Street

Nature is for the empty, the contented.
And then, what can we boast of in this land?
A hill with a few small villas set against it,
A patch of wood no bigger than your hand.

Give me instead the sombre city highroads,
The waterfront hemmed in between the quays.
Clouds that move across an attic window,
Were ever clouds more beautiful than these?

All things are riches to the unexpectant.
Life holds her wonders hidden from our sight,
Then suddenly reveals them to perfection.
thought this over, walking through the sleet,
The city grime, one grey and drizzly morning,
Blissfully happy, drenched in Dapper Street.

From Quiet though Sad (1946)
Translated by James Brockway

First published in The Low Countries, 1995