Who took the sun from your eyes. Translation


So here it comes, another bilingual post. I’ve been flirting with the idea of translation for some time. Living in Amsterdam and being in the community that I am I perhaps read/write speak/hear English and Dutch 50/50. That makes as well that although most of the Dutch people I know, know English, not all my friends or readers know Dutch. Yet sometimes you want to share something of beauty from a to other unknown language and that’s where translation comes in. In Dutch the word for translation is vertalen, however, we also sometimes especially with poetry use the word ‘hertalen’. Even though it is not an official word is it quite useful, it literally translated means re-language. Basically you rewrite in another language. One of the great examples of this in the Dutch language is Herman van Veen, a Dutch artist whose songs often have an original in another language. He for instance sings several Leonard Cohen songs in Dutch, (such as Susanne) but instead of translating it literally he will make the song his own, and in that way adding another layer. Today I came across one of his songs, ”wie heeft de zon uit jou gezicht gehaald” literally, who took the sun from out of your face? it’s a beautiful song about some of the ugliest things in life. I wanted to share it with you guys so I translated it from Dutch to English. the fun thing is that the ‘original’ song was a French song from Catherine Lara – La craie dans l’encrier. Interestingly enough only the music is the same, the lyrics bare no real resemblance. I took the Dutch lyrics from the web, translation is my own. Feel free to comment on whether or not you think it’s done justice!

Who took the sun from your eyes?

Who extinguished the light in you?

Who turned your red cheeks into white

Who chased the dreams far from your mind?

Who broke your tiny heart

Painted your eyes so black

Who did not live up to the promises he made


Who smothered the laughter in your throat?

Who clenched your hands into fists?

Who killed that child so frank and free?

That always stands up when it falls

Who bend your straight strong back

Stamped on your toys to crack

Who broke your wings in the highest of their flight?


Who passed you by so easily

Who betrays your faith in this?

Who kept silent even until

The third rooster crowed to show

Who is it that forgot, that

You held the future in your heart

Who was it that just like, me, did not love you enough

Who was it that just like, me, did not love you enough


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