Nijhoff was born in The Netherlands in 1894. He studied literature and law. His first volume of poetry, De wandelaar (The Wanderer), was published in 1916. Nijhoff is well known for his unique style of poetry which often includes clear language, mystical content, rhymed verses and the frequent use of the sonnet. His best known works include Het Uur U (H Hour), published in 1936 and his long poem Awater, in 1934. Nijhoff died in 1953.
Strange pizzicato of distant guitars,
We had just heard the birds singing outside—
The sun pushed its way through the cracks
of the heavy curtains in the quiet room.
But our face and all the things still hung
With the tired light of the chandeliers—
And between us, as great ghosts, moved
A craziness of words, a hopelessness of gestures.
This was the end of the last night.
The sun fell straight through the window. I leaned
My forehead against the glass—you, behind me, shivered.
What existed between us, has been killed.
Let's not think anymore about what it was.
God has done with us what he wanted.
Translated by Cliff Crego