Passion Play

Those who control their passions do so because their passions are weak enough to be controlled. (William Blake) ‘Lots of love and sex to everyone – it makes you happy.’ That was a New Year’s wish in a Flemish weekly at the end of 2007. But does it really? Around the same time Stages of…

An Intractable Cathedral of Language

The Poetry of Kees Ouwens The first poem in the collection Dream (Droom, 1988) by the recently-deceased Dutch poet Kees Ouwens (1947-2004) opens by speaking of a journey, a journey into the past. ‘A good twenty years we had to travel back in time.’ The reference is to the beginning of his career as a…

The Netherlands Gets on its Bike

If you had to take one photo that summed up the Netherlands as the average foreigner sees it, what would it show? Queen Beatrix in clogs, cycling past a row of windmills, with the glassy eyes of dozens of cows staring at her in astonishment – this would probably qualify. It is not very likely…