Yugoslav Requiem

Arnold Jansen op de Haar

An acclaimed poetic journey

Sample Passages

  • Yugoslav Requiem

    yugoslav requiem



    it’s not what I’ve seen

    it’s what I’ve not seen

    it’s always looking round at where you’ve been


    the man at the road-block

    demands a cigarette

    at home he beats his wife


    today for the first time she puts

    her headscarf on

    she thinks of her son


    her muslim man who works in the fields

    listens intently to the sky

    his father taught him that


    he also learned how you kill someone

    who used to be your friend or neighbour

    and about četniks   hitler and ustašas


    and this land is mine

    and I’m in charge

    I work the clay


    the you lot and they

    the we and them

    the we know our own kind


    it’s not what I’ve heard

    it’s what I’ve not heard

    it’s the tone of a word




    © Arnold Jansen op de Haar 2002
    © Translation: Paul Vincent 2009

    This poem was featured in Arnold Jansen op de Haar’s performance at the Poetry Cafe.


    You can also listen to the author reciting yugoslav requiem on YouTube.

    Interested? So why not buy Yugoslav Requiem

  • Girls of Sarajevo

    the city where children
    play their ebony war
    their mothers cut wood
    too tired to die

    in rebuilt churches the faltering
    faith in progress slumbers
    in the ruined ice stadium
    old applause hangs like cobwebs
    but in the suburbs the tanks
    still lie
    like tortoises on their backs

    and in the evening sky there are
    dream stockades of nameless girls
    their high heels catch
    in the gaps in the pavements
    sometimes they take money in alarm
    and embrace the man passing by
    with their dimmed bird’s eyes
    with the broken wings of their words
    with a sudden glance that strikes home
    with peroxide hair flaming like straw
    – for their fuming fathers are dead –

    listlessly they eat their bread of charity
    a rose of barbed wire twists in a womb
    when the miss election jury asks
    are you a virgin

    they say   the prettiest girls have disappeared
    into the nights they go   careless and charming
    with their ripe summer lips
    but the dead bridegroom’s scent pervades their hair

    © Arnold Jansen op de Haar 2002
    © Translation: Paul Vincent 2009
    This poem was featured in Arnold Jansen op de Haar’s performance at the Poetry Cafe
    Interested? So why not buy Yugoslav Requiem

Sample Information


In 1994 the author found himself in the midst of a war in Bosnia, the last war in Europe.

He was the commanding officer of the unit that secured Tuzla airbase for incoming UN aid in 1994, one year before the overthrow of the enclave Srebrenica in the former Yugoslavia.

The poignant war poems in this collection reflect on various aspects of the conflict and most importantly show how it affects the personal lives of many people. It is an indictment of the conflict in Bosnia.

However, this collection contains much more. In it the author also reflects on his personal journey. He searches for his own identity and we feel his overpowering need of no longer wanting to belong to any group or organisation.

we is a word
meant for monarchs
and those who bear their trains

Uniquely, when read from beginning to end, the poems form a story. Yugoslav requiem is a companion to the King of Tuzla.

War and peace are on many levels, we experience this all, mostly in our private lives, that is why poetry is the key to our most secret feelings, including yours.

The Poems

in the summer of ’68
king of tuzla
annus horribilis
yugoslav requiem
girls of sarajevo
generation x
combat boots

Order the book to read all poems.

Available in Dutch and English
English translation by Paul Vincent

You can buy Yugoslav Requiem now by clicking on the ‘Buy this book’ button on this page. Your card will be debited in your local currency.

If you want to order in any other way, please email the publisher.

Arnold Jansen op de Haar latest poetry collection The Refrain of Other People’s Lives was published by Holland Park Press in 2017.

ISBN: 978-1-907320-01-9
Number of pages: 51
Price: £0


His rhythms are contagious: they made me want to divide my own sentences here in tune with them. – Leah Fritz on London Grip

Poems from this collection have been included in numerous anthologies.

Among them Gerrit Komrij’s Nederlandse poëzie van de 19de t/m 21ste eeuw, main Dutch poetry anthology (Bert Bakker) and

De 100 beste gedichten van 2002, The 100 Best Poems of 2002 (edited by professor Gillis Dorleijn, Arbeiderspers).