The Cultural Chemist prescribes ‘Der sille dagen komme’ by Tiny Mulder
If you’re a visitor to this website then you’re probably an enthusiastic reader of literature. A warm advocate of dissolute reading adventures. You might even be a professional reader promoter. Whichever group you belong to, you’re probably familiar with that feeling of hopelessness. The feeling that overcomes you in the train when you’re sitting with your novel or poetry book and surrounded only by people staring blankly at their mobiles. Or that moment when you realise your loved one or teenager doesn’t actually ever touch a book outside of the holidays. The dismay that overcomes you when you read in the paper how quickly reading is declining in the Netherlands.
Are you having to deal with loved ones or pupils who have better things to do than read? With children who prefer to study tiktok dances or stay up all night gaming? With student teachers only just managing to read three children’s books a year let alone a ‘grown up’ novel? Do you sometimes feel like a daft boomer when you try to explain, once more, all the benefits of reading?
It’s understandable, you know, that you occasionally feel despondent and that, as a book advocate, your spirit sometimes sinks. That you sometimes wonder if reading literature is actually even a thing in this digital era, with so many young people (and old) so welded to their phones. That you sometimes suddenly think you’re carrying out some kind of rearguard strategy, waving books around like a Don Quixote fighting with windmills.
But, don’t give up! As a bookworm, you know as well as anyone, how beneficial reading is. How infinitely huge the impact of literature can be. How good reading is for your mental wellbeing. How a literary pill can help relieve stress, an overflowing mind and all kinds of pains in life. How relaxing reading can be, and how much comfort, insight and inspiration it can give.
Isn’t it wonderful and important to continue to tell that to people around you. To keep encouraging others to click away from that Netflix screen and the podcast app. To then, who knows, be at the birth of a reading revival in Friesland. Be inspired by the boom in Booktokkers that are getting hordes of young people heading to bookshops looking for a new kick from reading. A future in which you will no longer be the strange eccentric, you with your books, is actually possible!
For all those moments in which doubt hits you, we have pleasure in prescribing you with a booster shot in the form of a poem: Der sille dagen komme* by the Frisian poet Tiny Mulder.
One of the strophes from the Dutch translation of the poem reads:
er zullen dagen komen
dat gedichten als kinderen
op de trottoirs spelen
en dat in het vroege voorjaar
de mensen even stilstaan
hun motor afzetten en zeggen
hoor de kinderen
hoor de poëzie
You can read the full poem in Frisian here.
This literary medicine offers a vision, tempting and inspiring, of a beautiful future packed with poetry. A future in which buying a slim book of poems at the end of the month is as normal as getting a pack of coffee from the supermarket.
Instructions for use
Take when the first symptoms of lonely-reader emotions appear. Stimulates the appetite for reading and advocacy. No side effects are known with long-term use.
*There will be days
there will be days
when poems like children
play on the pavements
and that in the early spring
people stand still for a moment
turn off their engines and say
listen to the children
hear the poetry