Russian poet, Marina Tsvetajev, the first wall poem


Awhile back I was reading an issue of the Patek Philippe Magazine...yes, we are talking about the famous watch company from Switzerland.  They put out a yearly magazine and, aside from being extremely beautiful to look at (the covers are knockouts!), there are always interesting articles re design that touch on the unusual and unique.

One article caught my immediate attention.  It was all about the Dutch city of Leiden which has taken to celebrate the significance of poetry in society by posting the poems of famous poets on the facades of buildings.



The poems are always posted in the language of the poet with plaques offering translation into Dutch and English. They are part of a project created to commemorate Leiden’s long history as the home to an exceptional number of talented writers and artists.

Known as the “Wall Poems”, it began in 1992, with a poem by the Russian poet, Marina Tsvetajeva  being painted on the wall of a building. The project was called “Poems and  Walls”  and the original poem was followed by 100 more poems and 100 more buildings and finally was completed in 2005 with  Garcia Lorca’s poem, “De Profundis”  being painted on the last building.


When I first saw the photos of the buildings with the poetry on them I was completely mesmerized.  The concept is replete with art and beauty and design, all commingled in the best possible way.



If you ask this dezigner,  utilizing the exterior of buildings to display the poetry of the world’s outstanding poets from the past is quite a sophisticated undertaking. It will be there for eternity…or until the building is demolished or time and the elements fade the painting.



The selection of the various poets was done by a private foundation, “Tegen-Beeld”, headed up by Ben Walenkamp and Jan-Willem Bruins and aided by the support of several private and corporate sponsors.  Some of the poets included in the wall poems are Pablo Neruda, e.e. cummings, William Shakespeare, W.B.Yeats and Rainer Maria Rilke. All of the poems are written in the native language of the poet and are accompanied by wall plaques translating them into English and Dutch.



At the website one can take a wonderful virtual tour of all of the buildings in Leiden featuring the wall poems. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I am sure you will too…really enchanting.



So, have you begun to think how wonderful it would be to visit Leiden some day to walk the tour?  I certainly have! AND isn’t it simply fantastic that individuals have the prophetic vision to create such an experience as this for one and all to savor and enjoy?