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C. (Cornelis) Buddingh’  (poet) - Netherlands - Poetry International

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C. (Cornelis) Buddingh’ 
(Netherlands, 1918–1985)   
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C. (Cornelis) Buddingh’ 

C. Buddingh’ (Dordrecht, 1918) is classic example of a minor poet. He was not an innovator, but a follower. This may seem like an unfriendly characterization, but Buddingh’ knew this well himself – in fact, ‘it’s not so bad, it’s where I draw my strength’, as he writes in poem in which he characterizes himself as a ‘cousin that gets to stay over as well’. Visible in his oeuvre are the tracks of literary history, to be followed by foot, and with each new movement Buddingh’ takes the chance to stay over without ever initiating the festivities. 

He debuted during the Second World War with traditionally shaped poems: quatrains and ballads full of lines such as, 'Doe afstand van de smalle troon / van uw verleidelijk spiegelbeeld, / schuw het inwendig eerbetoon, / en 't gister dat uw heden streelt' (Renounce the throne and scepter / of your seductive mirror, / shun the self-proud sentiment, / and that the past caressed your present). His best-known poem – and the only true classic – is 'De blauwbilgorgel' ('The Bluebuttgargle', a Dutch equivalent of 'The Jabberwocky') from 1943. The blauwbilgorgel is a fantastic beast, a product of his most famous gorgelrijm (gargle rhymes), a self-created genre of absurdist poems that he began working on during the war years.
 
After the war, he was sick for a long period and only began writing poetry again in the 1950s. Buddingh' was drawn to the Vijftigers (a group of Dutch writers from the 1950s including Lucebert, Hugo Claus and Gerrit Kouwenaar), who at that time were called 'De Experimentelen' (The Experimentalists) – a name that didn't quite apply to Buddingh'. You could call him chameleon-like, but you could also call him schizophrenic: three poet-souls in one pen.
 
In 1951, the collection Water en vuur (Water and fire) was published, a collection written in a pre-war style: 'all my life I will be an island / in the archipelago of the people' – here you can hear echoes of Martinus Nijhoff's De Wandelaar (1916). In 1953, it was time for new gorgelrijms – not written as a literary statement, but because they brought the food on the table. Nonetheless: 'De pantippel werd geboren / op een mooie dag in mei. / Met een arendsneus van voren / En een ezelsoor opzij' (The pantipple was born / on a beautiful day in May. / With an aquiline horn / and, on the side, a dog-ear lay).
 
Then in 1957 appeared the collection Lateraal (Lateral), clearly influenced by the Vijftigers: 'een wereld is de poëzie / van huilende honden en meisjes met borsten van glas' (poetry is a world / of crying dogs and girls with breasts of glass). 
 
And then Buddingh' discovered the Zestigers (the 1960s-ers) – and the Zestigers discovered him, and his inherent matter-of-fact approach ensured a smooth connection. Take a look at reality with a skeptical attitude toward poetic sensationalism: 'de lamp maakt een licht. de ster maakt een licht. zo ontstaat / een valse verwantschap' (the lamp makes light. the star makes light. this creates / a false relationship).
 
Buddingh' did this with great naturalness, although he wrote his first poems when the editors of Barbarber (a Zestigers journal based in Amsterdam) were still toddlers. He often wrote short poems, in plain language, about the most ordinary things, with the most common conclusions, completely in the style of the Zestigers, especially those affiliated with Barbarber:

Bij wijze van spreken
 
laten we maar gewoon doen
dan doen we al gek genoeg
                 
(So to speak
 
let's just be normal
that's crazy enough)
 
Buddingh' also used texts from everyday reality, as in the poem 'Dordrecht, 25 november 1963' (Dordrecht, 25 November, 1963), which includes a note from the 'parent committee' stating that Parents' Night is cancelled 'due to the events in America'.
 
After the '60s, it becomes more difficult to identify clear developments in Buddingh's poetry, and from that moment he reveals himself to be the true melancholic he always was: the poet who feels most at ease when he writes about what has passed. In the Jan Campert Prize-winning collection Het houdt op met zachtjes regenen (It stops softly raining; 1972), he takes note of numerous memories, melancholic and sober: 'Ik was zeventien, geloof ik, toen ik jou – waar / en hoe weet ik niet meer – leerde kennen, maar al spoedig / zaten we praktisch iedere dag bij elkaar' (I was seventeen, I believe, when I – I / don't know how or why anymore – got to know you, and soon / we were together practically every day), he writes in an elegy for Anthony Bosman.
 
The later in his life, the more personal he dared to be. If the game of literary history is at its end, the foundation of melancholy remains, that shimmers, clearly visible, through all the colors of the chameleon.

© Bertram Mourits (Translated by Mia You)

Bibliography

Het geïrriteerde lied, 1941
De laarzen der Mohikanen of niet goed, geld terug, 1944
Het biggetje Boris, 1946
Water en vuur, 1951
Gorgelrijmen, 1953
Eenvouds verlichte waters. Essay over Lucebert, 1960
Het mes op de gorgel, 1960
Zo is het dan ook nog weer een keer, 1963
Deze kant boven, 1965
128 vel schrijfpapier, 1967
Een pakje per dag, 1967
Misbruik wordt gestraft, 1967
Lexicon der poëzie, 1968
Wil het bezoek afscheid nemen?, 1968
Avonturen van Bazip Zeehok, 1969
Leve het bruine monster, 1969
Buffalo Bill. Het goud van de Demonenkloof, 1970
Wat je zegt ben je zelf, 1970
Verveling bestaat niet, 1972
Bericht aan de reizigers, 1975
Daar ga je, Deibel! en andere verhalen, 1975
En in een mum is het avond, 1975
Het houdt op met zachtjes regenen, 1976
De eerste zestig, 1978
Een mooie tijd om later te worden, 1978
Dagboeknotities 1967-1972, 1979
De tweede zestig, 1979
Niets spreekt vanzelf, 1979
Verzen van een Dordtse chinees, 1980
Engelse zondagen, 1981
Een rookwolkje voor God en andere miniaturen, 1982
Tekeningen, 1983
Nieuwe gorgelrijmen, 1985
Gedichten 1974/1985, 1986
Een prachtig cadeau van niemand, 1989
Tussen de bedrijven, 1989
Een, twee, drie, in godsnaam, 1991
Dagboeknotities 1977-1985, 1994
Citaten en aforismen, 2003

Poems by Buddingh' have been translated into German, English, French, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Persian and Spanish.

 




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