Threads: Leeuwarden

Manchester City of Literature project

by Baukje Wytsma

Ik harkje nei de hertslach fan it gea,
lis op de boaiem fan myn skou
en lit my driuwe

hjir wol ik wei
hjir wol ik altyd bliuwe

pynlik refrein, bewoartele yn myn lea

Myn boat fart oer ûnsichtbere grinzen,
troch ’t Wide Swin, de Kromme Grou.
Hjir wie ’k wa’t ik net mear wêze kin:
in elfebern, dyn yndianefrou.

Do Grutte Wolf, dyn jongeshannen,
in bûnte fear yn ’t ljochte hier,
hoe frij swalken wy troch de lannen,
ik dreamende, do pionier.

Lietst my de swarte hynst beride,
de skonken tsjin it waarme liif.
Us wrâld lei tusken Swin en Swette,
de fûgels skearden oer it wetter.

Fersin dy net, der is gjin letter,
gjin hûs, gjin hiem, gjin ûnderdak

ik wol hjir wei,
ik wol hjir altyd bliuwe…

do driuwst my noch, bring my teplak.



By Baukje Wytsma / Translation: Michele Hutchison

I listen to the heartbeat of the country
lie in the bottom of my boat
and drift along the river

I want to leave this place
I want to stay here forever

painful refrain, rooted deep in my body.

My boat crosses vague borders,
the Wide Swin, the Kromme Grou.
here I was what I no longer am:
a fairy child, your Indian squaw.

You Big Wolf, your boyish hands,
a pretty feather in your hair,
how freely we wandered across the land
me dreaming, you a pioneer.

You let me ride the big black steed,
my legs against its warm hide.
Our world lay twixt Swin and Swette,
birds skimmed over the water.
Make no mistake, there is no later,
No house, no farm, no safe hearth.

I want to leave this place,
I want to stay here forever…

you propel me on, now take me home.


Portrait by Linus Harms

Baukje Wytsma (1946-2022) was a most versatile writer, best known for her poems, children’s books, and song lyrics. Her first children’s book was published in 1976, and her first poetry collection in 1980. Over the course of 45 years she produced a steady flow of poetry and many other publications – one of the last being Wyt ljocht, celebrating her 75th birthday in 2021.

Writing poetry was a way of life for Wytsma, in which she shaped and processed her thoughts and emotions about childhood, seasons passing, the mysteries of life, love and death, and the significance of the Frisian countryside.



When Leeuwarden-Fryslân was European Capital of Culture in 2018, a large part of the programme focused on multilingualism. Under the title ‘Lân fan taal’ (land of language), a broad program was presented with the premise: all languages are equal and language is without borders. With the ‘Taalkaravaan’ (language cavalcade), language performances and installations were added to theatre festivals and nautical events in the summer of 2018. For example, the Taalkaravaan visited The Tall Ships Races, a major event in which the port city of Harlingen welcomes the world’s most beautiful tall ships. Not only did many languages come together in Harlingen, the world of ships and sailors is full of languages altogether. That is why the ships were literally waved goodbye with words by the public on the last day; namely with handkerchiefs with an appropriate poem about sailing, departure and longing for a home by the Frisian poet Baukje Wytsma.