XXII:1 February, 2007

A Journal for Linking Poets   


Silva Ley 
drawings by Jeanne Wesselius

Table of Contents

The seasons 
Small happenings 
Country life 
The moment 


A child in white                                             After a long run 
high on the top of a dune,                            she climbs the hill,
forms a trumpet of her hands,                      listens to little sounds around
calls distant birds.                                        as she learned early.

a path of shells                                              far sounds of birds
winding away from the village                        long uu’s of redshanks
suddenly… the sea                                        piews of oyster catchers

a grey harrier                                                 a grass sparrow
skims along the edge                                  twitters again and again
the marram moves                                      through the roaring sea

a blue tent                                                  the empty beach
glimmers in the dunes                                 three surfers flap their wings
as if sailing away                                         in a blue distance

After a roll from                                     Suddenly
the last delightful slope                          she’s eager to play,
she takes off her shoes,                          fight with sand and water,
plods through the sand                          push back the borders,
to the edge of the water.                        make them new.

waves fall back                                       a child digs trenches
into themselves again                               between waving weeds
time fades away full,                                empty, full again

pieces of driftwood                                  little boys scream
wash ashore, stolen again                        of angry pleasure when the sea
through the thundering sea                       destroys their sandcastles

the flood line sparkles                            at the foamy edge
in the silver morning                               of a wild sea
changing, called sea                               a red kite tumbles

Then she wants to swing her arms,     Hunting for a treasure
throw herself yelling                            she hopes to find
into wind and space,                           some mussel shells
run to the next beach post                 the shiny mother–of–pearl.

at the tideline                                        a colourful shell
a gull washes its feet                             one of millions, the sea
waves come rolling over                       doesn’t make a choice

wind all around                                  a ‘kokkel’ in her hand
gulls link sea and land                        who will ever pick up
in their cross flight                              the other half?

even the smallest shell                       gulls sleep on the breakers
forms a tiny sandhill                          their eyelids as white
on the wide Wadden Sea                 as their white breasts


Light changes once again               she claps
in the late afternoon,                      the birds away,
feet and hands become                   then she skips along the path
sore by salt,                                    back to the village,
time to go home.                           she hears her mother call:

              ‘Vogeline of the island!’


Between two clouds                         a bridle path
a rim of summer moon                      twisting away in the gorse
the white dune rose                          a frightened rabbit

a hovering gull                                 our footsteps
two pink legs stretched out              in the wet sand, already
under his tail-helm                           as from strangers

the reed-border                               on the terrace
brushed by wind                               behind glass, people watch
bird’s nests sway gently                    a movie of the sea



A backyard with two lime trees, sun in the leaves,
pin-tail caterpillars in the privet hedge,
that’s enough to learn in childhood
the bliss of being outside.

Later on, taken along for walks,
through woods and moors
in the quiet pace of roe deer.
Every season an intensive experience
of listening, watching, smelling, tasting,
until the greenness of the earth
becomes the colour of your soul,
the scenery of your dreams.



Away from the wind side                          the birch leaves tremble
sheltered by the wood                              in the April breeze
a doe calf is moaning                                or is it the quivering light?

willows at the ditch                                  every day a stroll
with delicate catkins                                 through the kitchen garden
a wood saw yammers                               to count the sprouts

looking for lesser celandine                      fifty flying hours
I overlook the fields                                 by twenty bees
of anemones                                            one drop of honey



buzzing heat                                           a bumble bee lands
a lizard darts                                          on the clover,                    
across the sandbank                              bends to the ground

in the thistle field                                   the trees lay down
a moving spot of sand                          their long late shadows
ants – their honeymoon                        a balloon goes up

a border of marguerites                       summer evening
marks the garden                                a sudden breeze lifts a bee
a path to my love                                from the hemlock



leaves are lashed                                   in the last dahlia’s
a storm is raging                                   an earwig creeps away
the market stall sells roses                     autumn silvers the webs

chillness of October                             from the last rose
lime leaves hold on                              a bee falls in my hand
with just one fiber                                warms up and flies off

men with machines                              not the falling leaves
blow the leaves on heaps                    touch me in November
wilder than the storm                          no, the new buds



The frosty woods                               next to the cuneiform
the crystal branches                           of blackbirds in the snow
each footstep crackles                       our clumsy footprints

snow in the morning                          in front of a snow shower
more than ever a wavering                a cloud of starlings
for the first step                                in rhythmic waves

ice on the loam pit                            the stone girl
a crow cleaves fiercely                     in the city garden
a dead fish                                       snow in her cold lap


‘Searching  for authenticity one will always come closer to nature’ W. Vander Walle

Crossed the moorland                                    stormy skies
a wagtail hopping                                           a godwit dives on its nest
in front of my feet                                           sun climbs out of a cloud

peewits in the field                                         chirping in the firs
those tufts in the wind                                    a flock of goldcrests
as if the grass is blooming                                at the border of sound

ducks, floating                                             the motorway nearby
in the sparkling sun                                      a thrush sings over
eye-coats closed                                         the drone

on the steps                                                a couple of grebes
of the country house                                   dive into the river
a kestrel’s feather                                       rise together

chased by a heron                                     ducks plump down
a flock of nunducks,                                  black foamy collars enclose
between fen and sun                                  their white necks

the cuckoo coos                                       this wood absorbs
look, the ragged robin (cuckoo’s flower)   two brooks, hides them
pink in the fringe                                        lets them free

under dark trees                                      first raindrops
people walk silently                                 after a thunder stroke
secretly                                                    heat grows to smell

snow day after day                                stubs in the march
people wipe each other’s traces             a heron floats on the wind
soundless                                              black is the water

dragonflies                                            dung on the horse track
resting on gale stems                             madly pregnant flies
a frog jumps up                                     lay their future

butterfly                                                water scorpions
landing on the sun-warm stone              fry of caddish fly
of a megalithic tomb                              just turning a stone

two black horses                                  reading poems
on the hillside, trotting                           in the pasture, on a wall
on strings off light                                 along a village- road



‘Life seams just a moment,
but that’s why in that very moment
it should be fixed on the disc
of retina and eardrum.’ W. Vande Walle

the tap of an acorn                                a leaf on my hand
a ground-beetle runs                             I carry it
away from its stone                               till hail blows it off

a shot in the wood                                a train rushes along
a squirrel startles                                   a crested lark hops on
goes on gnawing a nut                           between the rails

smell carefully                                       a leaf of wild mint
this little black ant                                 quickly consumed
has the scent of soap                            with beetle and all

rest harrow on the path                       a gamma moth
leads us to the stables                         lands on the nose of a cow
and the watchdog                               she grazes on

on empty spots                                   a hoverfly slips
in the vegetable garden                       in the white arum-lily
wood-violet grows                             to its honey-death

after retirement                                  the cry of redwings
he serves tea and stories                    and fieldfares, high
under the ginkgo                                above the Shell reservoir

a long twilight                                     a folk of ants
in the copse the song                         swarms under an empty
of a nightingale                                   fertilizer bag

at the edge of the wood                   tiny in the grass
a big hare, ears up                           next to a thundering brook
who ‘s afraid of who?                     the wild strawberry







Long lanes of poplars                                        a stately farmhouse
bending with the lines                                        on the village green
of the old land                                                   between hall and kiosk

rough walls                                                       a flaked off front
a free uneveness                                               but those red geraniums
of roofs and crossbeams                                   on the windowsills

a tented kettle                                                  crumpled appletrees
catches morning-rain                                        the shade of branches
the stable-door open                                       moves on the windows

a crooked well                                               socked hens
a frowned façade                                           run around, the cock
as if life is simple                                            jumps on a chopping block

blue larkspur
leads tot the silent doors
of the Sunday noon



‘Basho says: "We should come to insight 
and return to common life,
because natural things are poetical
when you are able to unify with them".’ W.Vande Walle

in the Zoo                                                  the giraffe
shivering with sandlice                                makes a révérence
holy ibis                                                     for one leaf of salad

elephants                                                  people tarry
on a sandy isle, pushing                             in front of empty cages
each others for years                                 reread the names

steaming horses                                      a gardener puts name tags
race over the barriers                             in the rose-beds
pain, sweat, money                                nameless they smell

a group of painters                                 a mighty cedar
at the riverside, which moment               in front of the prison
will they record ?                                   but a blind wall

the ferryboat ashore                              old gold and marble
nobody on the terrace                           in the baroque church
of tavern ‘Comfort’                               worn out words

meditation                                             the sculptor dreams
in the Buddha temple                             his hands caress the stone
the stomachs growl                                then – let’s get cracking

planetarium                                           a youthful dressing -
we watch Orion’s haze                          grandmother’s eyes
in an easy chair                                     from under the brim

almost ninety now                               at the last ‘salute’
squabbling every day                          in the mortuary
about their old children                       without a watch

to peel potatoes                                 still half in her game
many shapes of roundness                  - wings of silver-paper -
through my hands                               fairy at the dish

jokes twinkle                                      bedtime
between forks and knives                   changes over to the night
the taste of words                              go from dream to dream

weeping in the chair                           a little girl
she looses her milk tooth                   leaves the labyrinth
before the dentist pulls                       much faster than her father

lively eyes                                        passed  the exam
in the museum                                  many years ago
children look at fossils                      now life offers the paper

the ship Uhuru                                 behind the boat
a man hangs up the laundry              a sudden splash
a woman at the wheel                      doggy is launched

a gate of golden clouds                    not his oeuvre
above the polders                            not the poet’s photographs
the bus rattles on                             his old fountain pen



Not the thunder stroke of sensation
really changes the world
but from minute to minute
what’s hardly perceptible.

A frightened rabbit                                   Solar spots appear
runs away, it takes                                   on the slide-projector;
the seed of ground star                            ‘our sun will also die one day’
under its feet                                            the child nearest to me
to another track                                       seizes my hand in the dark.

His spade glides                                     The train takes off,
through the sandy soil,                            people find shelter behind glass
shovel after toiling shovel;                       and morning papers.
he takes a moment’s rest                        I’m sitting next to you,
contemplates his hands.                          want to travel to your heart.

Lunchtime,                                            A lightshow of clouds
suddenly the sun reflects                        above the dunes,
in a window beyond.                             far to the sea.
Our room takes it over,                        Why am I searching the beach
we pass dishes and light.                        bent as a plover?

Creeping in the garden                         White foam
to put peas in small pits,                       under the bridge
against cruel pictures                            in the dirty river;
of war in the papers,                            yet, becoming pure
tanks on burning fields.                        is her destiny, as mine.

Fallen trees                                         Dinner together,
are left in the woods                            candlelight wipes merciful
years after the storm.                           the wrinkles of time.
Slower than beetles                            We sip from each others glasses,
we digest our old grieves.                   our thoughts and years.



Silva Ley, born in Tilburg 1927, is the author’s name of Johanna van Aelst-Versteden. Silva means wood and the Ley is a small stream through her birthplace. As a pupil at the Teacher’s Training School she showed her writings to the poet Jacques Schreurs. He compared her work with green prunes, likely on the way to ripen. As a teacher in the Primary School, she practiced poems and plays for children and collected them, edited by her father.

Around 1960 she joined a (still existing) circle of poets who also published, with the name ‘Opwenteling’ - Eindhoven. Four collections of her poems appeared. Till 1990 she was co-editor of anthologies which offered a first chance to young talent.

After her retirement as a teacher she started three books (poetical prose) to give a voice to women of the Bible. Her own experience came later on in Woodpecker’s Way, Go on growing and Moonmother, the desire to our source.

Silva likes to meditate and seeks to live in harmony with nature, people around and herself. ‘We’ve got no mastery over the earth, we may use her as a part of herself. She is holy and good in itself. About ‘small happening’ ( klein gebeuren) she says: ’People want sensation. They soon say: nothing happens. They wait for accidents, scandals, disasters. But life continuously changes in the tiniest, subtle way. In the Dutch etymologic dictionary we can read the nice origin of this word: gebeuren, from beuren = to lift. As it were: something is lifted up to show itself in the surrounding reality. This is haiku pre-eminently. Silva joined a regional haiku circle when this started in 1986.

Members of the society ‘Brabants Landschap’ (preservation of nature) know her already for more than 20 years from impressions (most haiku) on the cover of their periodical. Country life is taken from ‘The line of a roof’ written for 2003, the year of the landscape. Her work is to be found in , click authors: Ley Silva.

Jeanne Wesselius ( born in Leiden 1931) paints already for 30 years and is a member of a union of artists, named ‘The Independent’ at Amsterdam. Her studio is located in the River quarter of this town. Jeanne prefers to portray animals, especially birds. She is often to be found in the zoo of Artis, where she can quietly observe the animals. She also likes to paint landscapes and musicians on canvas, in different techniques.

Jeanne is not only skilled in visual arts, she is a poet as well In 2000 she received the Pipistrellus-price for her poems from the publishing house The Bat at Roermond. In 2002 she got the Plantage Poetry price (Amsterdam). Her poems are (among others) published in the collection about cats: Oh die Poes  published also by A3 Books 2004. Website:

A selection of Jeanne Wesselius's poetry:

slumbering snail . . .
if only yesterday
had waited

i saw you
standing in line this
at the post office . . .
winter came too fast!

waiting for me
with yesterday, a
snail blowing words

i talk to
you night after night
catfish . . .
and still this
gentle tugging

i too sleep
alone in winter,
brother cricket

i stir the
the new year in a
cup of coffee,
plucking words from
clumps of cloud

returning dawn
to the moon . . .
cherry, blossoms!

to be a
butterfly again . . .
in dreams, waiting
to unveil myself

your sandals,
moon, sewn
of cloud

clouds swim
upstream into autumn's
mouth, leaving
me to reinvent
what could have been

sunrise . . .
a deer bowing
to blossoms

alone in
his shell to dream,
what will snail
write when the clouds
form words made of leaf?

include me in
your dream, marmot . . .
i'm lonely

the haiku
you'll write, snail,
when words
inside you burst
into stars

in the morning,
dew drops scented
with you

new year's eve
a middle aged man
sketching spain on
the bathroom wall
with miles davis

new year's eve . . .
an old man painting thoughts
on his window

the new year on my
back reading
kijo's haiku
in a whisper

reeds in winter . . .
a heron listening
to herself breathe

in his loneliness,
the bay mocks him with
giggles of light

even darkness
can't discolor the clouds . . .
a long winter

even in
darkness, the clouds

new year's morning . . .
my shadow beats me
to the restroom!

the walls, this
evening, spray painted
with winter

your seed, this
morning tree, in a
damp tomorrow



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Originally published in Dutch by A3 Books in 2006, the book Vogeline Copyright © Silva Ley - Johanna van Aelst-Versteden, 2006. This English Version of Vogeline was translated by the author and is Copyright © 2007.
Illustrations Copyright © Jeanne Wesselius, 2006.

English translation first published as supplement to Lynx XXII:1, February, 2007.