The poetry of Martinus Nijhoff (1894-1953) was distinguished by clarity of language combined with mystical content. His masterpiece 'Awater', written in 1934, is the most important Dutch poem of the 20th century.
This edition of 'Awater' features three English translations, made at different periods, for comparison. As well as the Dutch text, it includes excerpts from a lecture by the poet on the origins of 'Awater', an essay on the first translation of the poem by Daan van der Vat, which quotes from his fascinating correspondence about the poem with Nijhoff; and an essay by the most recent translator, David Colmer. It concludes with an essay by the leading Nijhoff specialist, Wiljan van den Akker, which illuminates key elements of the poem in the context of modernism.
Thomas Möhlmann is a poet who works for The Dutch Foundation for Literature in Amsterdam. Wiljan van den Akker is a distinguished professor of Modern Dutch Literature at Utrecht University whose special field is modernist poetry in an international context.