Half Open Jacket, Kees Godefrooij: Translation & Analysis

Original Text

Half open jas
Iets zei me dat het voorbij was
toen ik je zag staan bij de bogen
je stond er met half open jas
er scheen iets treurigs in je ogen
godverdomme! dacht ik, zopas
nog heb ik je al ... voorgelogen
je pulkte bedeesd aan je tas
maar die blik had niet gemogen
het regende, ik legde mijn
hart over een plas zodat je
voeten niet nat ... dat werd de lijn
waarlangs onze relatie de
liefde hervond want het venijn
kwamen we te boven en we


Half Open Jacket
Something told me it was over
When I saw you standing by the arches
You stood there with your jacket half open
There was something melancholic in your eyes
Damn it! I thought just now
I've already ... deceived you
You hesitated, fingers delicately on your bag
But that gaze was not meant
It was raining, I spread my
Heart over a puddle so that your
Feet wouldn't get wet ... that became the line
Along which our relationship rediscovered
Love, for the venom
We overcame and we

Critical Analysis

"Half open jas" by Kees Godefrooij is a poignant and reflective love poem that captures a moment of realization and introspection in the context of a romantic relationship. The poem delves into themes of emotional distance, self-deception, vulnerability, and the potential for renewal within a partnership.

The poem is structured with short, concise lines, which create a sense of immediacy and intimacy. The title, "Half open jas" (Half-Open Coat), immediately sets the scene and creates an atmosphere of vulnerability, as the "half-open" state symbolizes a lack of protection or concealment.

The opening lines, "Iets zei me dat het voorbij was / toen ik je zag staan bij de bogen" ("Something told me it was over / when I saw you standing by the arches"), convey a moment of recognition. The speaker senses a significant change in the relationship upon seeing the subject standing with a half-open coat, a visual metaphor that suggests an emotional barrier between them.

The image of "iets treurigs in je ogen" ("something sad in your eyes") further reinforces the emotional distance between the two individuals. This line serves as a pivot point in the poem, marking the realization of the impending end of the relationship. The exclamation "godverdomme! dacht ik, zopas" ("damn it! I thought just now") reflects the speaker's inner turmoil and emotional upheaval in response to this realization.

As the poem progresses, the speaker reflects on their own actions, admitting to having "voorgelogen" ("deceived before") the other person. This confession suggests a past of insincerity and untruths, which adds to the complexity of the relationship and contributes to the current state of separation.

The lines "het regende, ik legde mijn / hart over een plas zodat je / voeten niet nat ... dat werd de lijn" ("it was raining, I placed my / heart over a puddle so your / feet wouldn't get wet ... that became the line") carry metaphorical weight. The act of protecting the other person's feet from the rainwater symbolizes the speaker's attempt to shield them from emotional discomfort. "Dat werd de lijn" ("that became the line") suggests that this gesture marked a boundary or turning point in their connection.

The poem concludes with a sense of transformation and growth: "waarlangs onze relatie de / liefde hervond want het venijn / kwamen we te boven en we" ("along which our relationship / rediscovered love, for the venom / we overcame and we"). These lines convey a sense of hope and renewal, suggesting that despite the challenges and deceptions, the relationship managed to overcome its difficulties and rediscover love.

"Half open jas" explores the complexities of human emotions, the fragility of relationships, and the potential for redemption. Through its concise and evocative language, the poem invites readers to reflect on their own experiences of love, vulnerability, and the transformative power of self-awareness.

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