Jan De Wilde – In the manner of St John Perse


Jan De Wilde is a Flemish poet associated with Orpheus Books. His  poem ‘Galway’ deals with an intense summer spent in Galway city which he would like to see published in Galway. He writes in Flemish and English. He lives in the city of Gent Belgium.



Castaway man (if that is what you are), exile of time within time’s narrowing frame
Or cast beyond time’s reference and frame
How you nourish the imagination which places on you its burden and necessity

You come to us out of the minds necessity to be what you must be for the mind’s satisfaction
How pleasing this is as it takes its rightful place in the world and, equally so, how pleasing the satisfactions

Hail to you prince of our needs -they are many but you are their equal
Where out of bitterness and exile you have created what we call the soul

That exile be luminous –for this there is a song known to the few then sung by the few
Hear then, oh bowman (this is your sign in the world) the prayer we make from necessity and passion
So as to align ourselves to your skills
Answer as befits you
See us in your thrall

It is so -there is exile –the fires of cities rage -there is bitterness in the mouth from a crushed bay leaf
All of which wounds the heart at sun-up as if the tribe was under sentence of some necessity
Too dark to name
The city smoulders in the imagination just as the ruins smoulder in the aftermath of destruction
The prince becomes an émigré

Thus displaced from tradition he seeks tradition
(the by-ways of guidance are many and various)
Moving by cloud, moving by fire, by that justice he seeks in cloud and fire, by that justice known to fire and verse
This becomes an inheritance
Time and consequence begin

But there is no guidance
The tribe give themselves to their lamentations
The drum beats a tempo and breaks into a dirge-rhythm
Elegy has entered the world and will not cease
The smouldering fire will not go out
The pennants are tattered and torn

Thus the tribe set out, the soul was witness and participant
There was fear but there was hope
Decennia’s in the wilderness were weaving their net
The book was being written, the chapters unfolding in triumph and grief
The footsteps led from the desolation of death to the greater desolation of God
Yet out of this Orpheus begins to sing to rescue the dead from death
As under the shadows a memory stirs that out of the ordinary mortal night his Orphic night arrive

So hail to you prince –the one who comes offering love to the succeeding
You have negated the creeping blackness, have uprooted the beast from the seat he usurped
What else is there to be said?
Love enters –all is shattered that it be amended
See – here are the scars and shards

Friends, I greet you all from this outpost
May it be a good season
May there be good fruits
May each of us know that fermenting dark
Exulting for the light.


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