Harry G. de Vries, three poems

July 1, 2017




In days when different rituals

prevailed and howling storms

were on my repertoire to make

bedtime a theatrical event, we


staged worlds that paved the

way to face the real one that

mirrors openness and gaiety

to protect you from its squalls.


Now you are out there, and

my role done, I still close the

curtains of your room at eight -

occasionally, I protrude my lips


and put cupped hands over my

mouth, hoping that, when winds

pick up, you are safe and sound,

and will do well.







Digital audioware not

only visualizes the 

African songs of

the marsh warbler,


it also displays the 

clutter that comes with 

it: a motorbike, a plane

or someone hammering.


Each is depicted as

a separately coloured

stretch of reed and its

mirror image in water.


How easy it is to 

select and cut all,

isolating the warbler

to its clinical essence.


It also works the other 

way round; add swishing 

trees to a goldcrest's call

or breakers to a stint's.


Pure trickery, but no one

knows or cares when

props help to make 

more of a performance.


It is like writing a poem;

you can throw things in 

or out if you know

what you are doing.


If you throw out the bird,

for instance, you can

reconsider the beauty of

wind bustling the reed.







From our perspective,

we see them for what

they are: fixed patterns,

as in a pinholed lantern.


Linking some of them

is an antiquated trick

to help us find our way

among the perforations.


Excellent, of course, for

old-school navigation, but

do we now need stars to

tell us where we stand?


Not really, unless we 

redefine our outlook to

kindle a beauty which 

repositions the world and us.








Harry G. de Vries (1961) is a teacher of English at Avans University, the Netherlands. In 2003 his Dutch translation of a selection of poems by Philip Larkin was published. It was not until 2014 that he started writing poems himself; much to his own surprise, it was not his mother tongue but an English voice that set him going. 


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