Hans Lodeizen

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Hans Lodeizen

Hans Lodeizen (Naarden, July 20, 1924 - Lausanne, 26 July 1950), born Johannes August Frederik Lodeizen, was a Dutch poet. He was the author of one book of poems (The Wallpaper Within, 1949) and a quantity of miscellaneous work. Despite his short life and modest output, his minimalist lyrics, which are generally constituted of short, unrhymed lines without capitals or punctuation, strongly influenced a post-war generation of Dutch poets, including Gerard Reve (who enjoyed a private correspondence with Lodeizen's father, revealed in 2002 by Lodeizen's Dutch biographer).

voor Jim

de sterren en het ongeneselijke
moment van de twee balken.
Orion ontdekt en in zijn hand
o noodlot in zijn hand het zwaard.

the stars & the incurable
moment of two crossed beams.
Orion discovered & in his hand
o fate in his hand the sword.

— "for Jim", translated by James Merrill [1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born into an influential family, Lodeizen was raised in great privilege as the son of the director of Müller & Company, an international trading firm. He studied law briefly in Leiden, but took an interest in biology and pursued graduate study at Amherst College in the United States in 1947-1948. There he befriended the poet James Merrill who, after becoming "smitten" with Lodeizen,[1] would describe him many years later as "clever, goodnatured, solitary, blond, / all to a disquieting degree."[2] Lodeizen would lose interest in his graduate biology program and return to Europe to work (reluctantly) for his father's firm; after his diagnosis with leukemia, he spent his last months sustained by blood transfusions in a Swiss sanatorium.[1] He was 26 when he died.

Lodeizen's poems have been translated into English by James Brockway and James Merrill, among others, and have appeared mainly in anthologies of Dutch poetry.[3]


  • Het innerlijk behang (The inner wallpaper, 1949, published in March 1950), published by G.A. van Oorschot, Amsterdam; 74 pp.
  • Het innerlijk behang en andere gedichten (The inner wallpaper and other poems, L. A. Ries, editor, 1952); 185 pp., 15th edition 1989
  • Verzamelde Gedichten (Collected Poems, 1952), G.A. van Oorschot, edited by J.C. Bloem, Jan Greshoff and Adriaan Morriën
  • Nagelaten werk (Unfinished Work, 1969); 6th edition 1988
  • Verzamelde Gedichten (Collected Poems, 1996), published by G.A. van Oorschot, Amsterdam; 682 pp., second edition 2007


  • A Ship of Leaves, Twelve Poems by Hans Lodeizen, selected and translated by Geert Lernout. Toronto: Aliquando Press, 1982.


Koen Hilberdink, Hans Lodeizen. Biografie (2007).

  1. ^ a b c Merrill, James. A Different Person: A Memoir. New York: Knopf, 2003. See in particular Chapter IV, "Last Hours with Hans," which includes his translation of voor Jim.
  2. ^ Merrill, James. "Dramatis Personæ", Letter D of The Book of Ephraim, in The Changing Light at Sandover (1982), 2006 edition, p. 12.
  3. ^ Merrill, James. Collected Poems, New York, Knopf, 2001. Included are Merrill's translations of three Lodeizen lyrics: "The Malleability of Sorrow" (de buigzaamheid van het verdreit), "For My Father" (voor vader), and "The Water" (het water).

External links[edit]

Peter Lowensteyn, Dream and Reality, the Poetry of Hans Lodeizen, an excellent English-language web resource (with translations)