'I have planted a cedar in my garden's soil'

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De Ceder / The Cedar - Poem as Friend to Alida
by Han G. Hoekstra

De Ceder

Ik heb een ceder in mijn tuin geplant.
gij kunt hem zien, gij schijnt het niet te willen.
Een binnenplaats, meesmuilt ge, sintels, schillen.
en schimmel die een blinde muur aanrandt,
er is geen boom, alleen een grauwe wand.
Hij is er, zeg ik, en mijn stem gaat trillen,
Ik heb een ceder in mijn tuin geplant,
Gij kunt hem zien, gij schijnt het niet te willen,

Ik wijs naar buiten, waar zijn ranke, prille
stam in het herfstlicht staat, onaangerand,
niet te benaderen voor noodlots grillen.
geen macht ter wereld kan het droombeeld drillen.
Ik heb been ceder in mijn tuin geplant.

From 'Panopticum', Meulenhoff, 1946

The Cedar
translated by Alida Gersie

I have planted a cedar in my garden’s soil.
you too could see it, but it seems you don’t want to.
A yard, you snigger, slags and rot,
There’s mould that festers on the blinding wall.
There is no tree, a drab divider, nothing more.
It is there, I say, and my voice now trembles,
You too could see it, but it seems you don’t want to.

I point outside, where its slender, tender
trunk stands in radiant autumn’s glow, untouched,
and way beyond doom’s fickle tricks.
No worldly force can erode this vision.
I have planted a cedar in my garden’s soil.


Poem as Friend to Alida

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De Ceder / The CedarHan G. Hoekstra

In this episode, Alida talks about the poem that has been a friend to her – 'De Ceder' / 'The Cedar' by Han G. Hoekstra. You will hear the poem in Dutch and in an English translation by Alida herself.

Alida visited The Poetry Exchange at London Podcast Festival 2019 at Kings Place. Our thanks to both for hosting us so warmly attentively.


Our thanks also to Meulenhoff for granting us permission to share the poem with you. You can find 'De Ceder' in the original Dutch along with many other works by Han G. Hoekstra at dbnl.org - digitale bibliotheek vor de Nederlandse letteren:



Dr. Alida Gersie is a widely published author and world authority on therapeutic story-work, the arts therapies, the uses of the arts in health and popular education. She designed and directed Postgraduate Arts Therapies training programmes at universities in the UK and abroad. Since the 1970’s she has advised leading thinkers on the uses of story to encourage pro-environmental policy and behavioural change. Alida is editor of and contributor to Storytelling for a Greener world: Environment, Community and Story-Based Learning. Stroud: Hawthorn Press, 2014.

Alida is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Andrea Witzke-Slot and Al Snell.

Al reads the gift reading of 'The Cedar'.


We talk to people about the poem that has been a friend to them.

In exchange we create a gift for them, a bespoke reading of their chosen poem inspired by the conversation. Our award-winning podcast shares these unique and powerful stories of connection with people across the world. 


We set up an intimate environment for these conversations at festivals, in arts, cultural and public spaces across the country. We also hold exchanges ‘long distance’. Our visitors come from all walks of life and we also feature well-known personalities such as Andrew Scott, Maxine Peake, Roy McFarlane and Paterson Joseph.