This poem was written by David Agnew, also known as Belfast David, and published in his lovely book “Belfast via Bedlam” and on his weblog Belfast David  where his books and this poem can also be found. The word (or 2 words 🙂 ) Arohanui is Maori and means something that translates best as  Big Love.

It now happens to be a word we both started to use in messages, on cards, in comments and emails and such to each other, and I think it describes mutual feelings of friendship in our case  🙂

Anyway, it is a very dear word to me and not just a phrase.

I did an attempt to translate the poem into Dutch:

Big love

I let the syllables reverberate
Across my tongue; its sound
Moves out, slides down
soft against my skin, touches
The ground and echoes back;
Surrounds, envelopes me in warmth
Comfort, security of love.

I draw you to me, let you
Put your head upon my shoulder,
Look into your eyes, see love therein.
Under my breath I speak the word;
Let its essence draw us both
Into a place of joy. No other word will do –


Groot lief

Ik laat de lettergrepen vibreren
Over mijn tong; ‘t  geluid
Glijdt steeds lager
Zacht tegen mijn huid, en raakt
De grond en echoot terug;
Omgeeft,  omwikkelt me in warmte
Troostend ,  zekerheid van liefde.

Ik trek je bij me, laat je
Je hoofd op mijn schouder leggen,
Kijk in je ogen, zie liefde daarin,
Onder mijn adem spreekt het woord;
Laat zijn waarheid ons  brengen
Naar een plek van vreugde. Geen ander woord volstaat –


Comments on: "Arohanui, (Big Love) a poem by David Agnew" (21)

  1. ps reverberate is not lit. vibreren, but the Dutch (weerkaatsen) just didn’t sound right somehow 🙂 there is a little difference that made me decide to use “vibreren” esp. as the word “echoot” “echoes” is also used later on, and vibreren sounds more like the original 🙂

  2. Very pretty poem. Thanks for sharing.

  3. This is such a lovely thing for you to do with this beautiful poem.

    I am sure David is delighted!

    Love and hugs xx

    • Hi Christine, thank you. I decided to put the translation here too since David kindly made a posting of it :). I don’t usually translate, so it was a bit of a challence to keep balance in what sounds right and what is the real meaning. I think the original is always the best, though! 🙂 and it is not different in this case.
      This poem should be around the world 🙂

      Love and hugs to you too! xx

  4. Lovely poem Ina, and i’m sure David is pleased to get it translated.

  5. What a lovely compliment to pay to David! A delightful poem of course.

  6. Francina said:

    Hallo Ina,

    Had nog niet gezien dat je het ook op je eigen site had gepost … maar ik had dit berichtje op de site van David gepost. Dus copy and paste ik maar even 🙂

    groetjes, Francina

    Hi David,

    a beautiful poem! Ina did very well with the translation, in Dutch .
    Translations in another language are very difficult , because one has to keep as close as possible to the original poem.


    Mooie vertaling in het Nederlands,! Goed gedaan hoor! Ik zag een klein dingetje (tikfoutje?) en misschien wil je dat nog veranderen.

    *Je hoofd op mijn schouders leggen* zou eigenlijk *schouder* moeten zijn.

    Hartelijke groetjes,

  7. How lovely of you to post David’s elegant love poem on your blog. Thanks for sharing!

  8. A beautiful collaboration by two wonderful poets.
    Translation is an art in itself; a tough challenge but worth every effort.
    I am very much looking forward to hearing the recording.
    #I seriously wish I had learned to speak Dutch during my 4 years stay there!

    • Hi helloponta, thank you very much, that is a great compliment. I do think David is a lot better poet than me!
      Dutch is a language better not heard I sometimes think lol. I hope you enjoyed your stay here! 🙂

  9. A great gift to David, Ina, but a great compliment to you as well. Congratulations on a task well done.

  10. Ina,

    I take it as an enormous compliment that you should want to translate one of my poems.
    I am not qualified to comment on the written translation but I am absolutely sure Francina is right when she says you did really well.

    I do know that hearing you read it was quite a moving experience for me.

    Thank you very, very much


    • Hi David,

      you are very very welcome 🙂 it was a real pleasure to do. “Big Love” is such a beautiful poem, my favourite so far of yours. And now Francina says it was done well, I am double pleased! 🙂

      I am glad you liked the recording, it was the first time I recorded a poem (correction, second, I did do a little poem for my granddaughter 3 months ago) and I just hoped it would turn out alright 🙂

      Arohanui 🙂


  11. Arohanui is my favourite maori word as well. It is beautiful and it brought me to this gorgeous poem and the fantastic Dutch translation

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