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To Simon Vestdijk

English translation © Peter J. Large


Before the trial you were good as dead,
the hangman knew he'd have your head
while you sat in gaol your death to await,
I wept beside you at your fate.

The operetta was protracted
grimly was the farce enacted,
court to gaol and back again
in the handcuffs of the Hun.

To forty hearths you dared set fire,
their vengeance a thousand would require,
your gaolers stood deprived of breath
as you went in silence to your death.

Doctors, judges, lawyers came,
body healthy, mind quite sane:
since they found no trace of ill,
your neck was ready for the kill.

The Queen would've pleasurably received
your application to be reprieved,
but from such a common man