Tuesday Poem – Imagining, by Hadewych of Antwerp



What is sweetest in love is her tempestuousness,
Her deepest abyss is her most beautiful form;
To lose one’s way in her is to touch her close at hand.
To die of hunger for her is to feed and taste;…
We can say yet more about Love:
Her wealth is her lack of everything;
Her truest fidelity brings about our fall;
Her highest being drowns us in the depths;…
Her revelation is the total hiding of herself;
Her gifts, besides, are thieveries;
Her promises are all seductions;
Her adornments are all undressing;
Her truth is all deception;
To many her assurance appears to lie—
This is the witness that can be truly borne
At any moment by me and many others
To whom Love has often shown
Wonders by which we were mocked,
Imagining we possessed what she kept back for herself.
After she first played these tricks on me,
And I considered all her methods,
I went to work in an entirely different way:
By her threats and her promises I was no longer deceived.
I will belong to her, whatever she may be,
Gracious or merciless; to me it is all one.




Hadewijch of Antwerp (c. 1220 – 1260 CE)

Het 1e strofische gedicht (lied) van Hadewijch...
Het 1e strofische gedicht (lied) van Hadewijch: Ay al es nu die winter cout (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
















Also known as Hadewijch of Brabat or Hadewijc of Brussels, Hadewych of Antwerp was a 13th century female poet and mystic who wrote in a Brabantian dialect of Dutch.  She was possibly part of a community of beguines (lay Christians) and showed a great knowledge of literature and theology.  She was known as a “minnemystik”, a mystic who focuses on “minne” or love.

Here’s the link to other Tuesday poems.




  1. This is a complex piece of work. It must have been a challenge to translate…it is very wise. I like the way she uses opposites to get to the heart of love.
    ‘Her promises are all seductions;
    Her adornments are all undressing;
    Her truth is all deception’
    And in the end her decision to love unconditionally.
    Thanks for this interesting piece Janis and congratulations on your success in Flash Ficion.

  2. This is lush and lovely. I love how dense every single line is. Will have to go back to the top and read again… And yes, congrats on all your successes — again!

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