Monthly Archives: May 2007

“Song of Childhood” by Peter Handke (From The Film “Wings of Desire”, dir. Wim Wenders, 1987)

When the child was a child
It walked with its arms swinging,
wanted the brook to be a river,
the river to be a torrent,
and this puddle to be the sea.

When the child was a child,
it didn’t know that it was a child,
everything was soulful,
and all souls were one.

When the child was a child,
it had no opinion about anything,
had no habits,
it often sat cross-legged,
took off running,
had a cowlick in its hair,
and made no faces when photographed.

When the child was a child,
It was the time for these questions:
Why am I me, and why not you?
Why am I here, and why not there?
When did time begin, and where does space end?
Is life under the sun not just a dream?
Is what I see and hear and smell
not just an illusion of a world before the world?
Given the facts of evil and people.
does evil really exist?
How can it be that I, who I am,
didn’t exist before I came to be,
and that, someday, I, who I am,
will no longer be who I am?

When the child was a child,
It choked on spinach, on peas, on rice pudding,
and on steamed cauliflower,
and eats all of those now, and not just because it has to.

When the child was a child,
it awoke once in a strange bed,
and now does so again and again.
Many people, then, seemed beautiful,
and now only a few do, by sheer luck.

It had visualized a clear image of Paradise,
and now can at most guess,
could not conceive of nothingness,
and shudders today at the thought.

When the child was a child,
It played with enthusiasm,
and, now, has just as much excitement as then,
but only when it concerns its work.

When the child was a child,
It was enough for it to eat an apple, … bread,
And so it is even now.

When the child was a child,
Berries filled its hand as only berries do,
and do even now,
Fresh walnuts made its tongue raw,
and do even now,
it had, on every mountaintop,
the longing for a higher mountain yet,
and in every city,
the longing for an even greater city,
and that is still so,
It reached for cherries in topmost branches of trees
with an elation it still has today,
has a shyness in front of strangers,
and has that even now.
It awaited the first snow,
And waits that way even now.

When the child was a child,
It threw a stick like a lance against a tree,
And it quivers there still today.


Continue reading “Song of Childhood” by Peter Handke (From The Film “Wings of Desire”, dir. Wim Wenders, 1987)


There are some things I am scared to research on the internet. There are the obvious ‘forbidden mysteries’ (curiousity is seldom rewarded with understanding). And then there are silverfish. What are they? All my mother said – when I spotted them for the first time around the fire in the livingroom – is that they like to gather in warm places. Do they like to do this as much as, say, humans like to eat? Do they eat? What do they eat? One cannot survive on warmth alone…surely? Perhaps not. I’ve never tried it.

I’ve never tried to open the box. I have a box of silverfish. If I tipped them out they would wriggle in my hand, most curiously. Some would fall through my fingers onto the cold ground. Cold hands, warm heart?

This reminds me of a girl, unsuprisingly. Her heart was so infested with silverfish that it stopped working, and she died in a cold place. I asked if I could keep the heart in a box – regulations prohibit it but I did anyway.

I’ld like to post a picture here but I can’t muster the courage.

She shouldn’t have spent so long near the stove.

The Cod Philosopher

Of course,
life as a goldfish has its benefits,
and if that’s what we are,
and you are a goldfish,
you’d swim round my mouth;
I’d force you to listen.

but if I’m using “I”s and “ifs”
you have no need of your ears
and less need of my voice.

You are a goldfish,
I’ll stick to the laundry

You are romantic,
and I am a bore.

Sleep by Robin Fry

What a wonderful card
this Christmas!
the winged figure had a look of you –
the long, clever face,
the streaming hair,
the glint of gold.
The woman is not you though,
she is “Night with her train of stars
and her great gift of sleep”
but this sky-borne woman
has a train of cherub children
clinging to her garments
where you have none.
You have a train of stars though
and, like her, although you give,
you do not sleep.

Source: Jepsen, Vivienne (ed.) The Ordinary Magic (Wellington: New Zealand Poetry Society, 1997)