Wall poems in Leiden

Wall Poems (Dutch: Muurgedichten, alternatively Gedichten op muren or Dicht op de Muur) is a project in which more than 110 poems in many different languages were painted on the exterior walls of buildings in the city of Leiden, The Netherlands.[1][2][3]

A wall poem in Russian by Alexander Blok

History and descriptionEdit

The Wall Poems project was partly funded by the private Tegen-Beeld foundation of Ben Walenkamp and Jan Willem Bruins, the project's two artists, with additional funding from several corporations and the city of Leiden.[2][4] It began in 1992 with a poem in Russian by Marina Tsvetaeva and (temporarily) finished in 2005 with the Spanish poem De Profundis by Federico García Lorca.[4] Other poets included in the set include E. E. Cummings, Langston Hughes, Jan Hanlo, Du Fu, Louis Oliver, Pablo Neruda, Rainer Maria Rilke, William Shakespeare, and W. B. Yeats,[3][5] as well as local writers Piet Paaltjens and J. C. Bloem.[4] One of the more obscure poems in the collection is written in the Buginese language on a canal wall near the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies; it and many of the other poems are accompanied by plaques with translations into Dutch and English.[2]


A guide available on the web describes a walking tour for visitors to Leiden that takes in 25 of the 101 poems.[6] The first 43 poems have been collected in a book by Marleen van der Weij, Dicht op de muur: gedichten in Leiden, and the rest are described in a second volume, published in 2005.[7]



The poem Le bateau ivre on a wall in Paris

Based on the success of the Leiden poetry project, wall poems have also been painted in several other Dutch cities.[8][9] In 2004 the Dutch embassy to Bulgaria launched a similar project in Sofia,[10] and in 2012 the Tegen-Beeld foundation collaborated with the International Society of Friends of Rimbaud to paint a poem by Arthur Rimbaud, "Le Bateau ivre", on a government building in the 6th arrondissement of Paris.[11] In 2012 a poem by Marsman was painted on a wall in Berlin.


  • Marleen van der Weij: Dicht op de muur. Gedichten in Leiden. Gemeente Leiden, Dienst Bouwen en Wonen, 1996. ISBN 9080139580 (2nd ed.: 1996, 3rd ed.: 1997). 6th, rev. ed.: Burgersdijk & Niermans, Leiden, 2000. ISBN 9075089082 [Description of the first 43 poems].
  • Marleen van der Weij: Dicht op de muur 2. Gedichten in Leiden. Burgersdijk & Niermans, Leiden, 2005. ISBN 9075089112 [Description of the poems 44-101]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Beatley, Timothy (2004), Native to Nowhere: Sustaining Home And Community In A Global Age, Island Press, pp. 193–194, ISBN 9781559634533, archived from the original on 2014-01-01, retrieved 2019-01-14.
  2. ^ a b c Khouw, Ida Indawati (July 15, 2001), "Leiden, the Dutch city of poems", Jakarta Post, archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Fihn, Stephan (2005), "Poetry on the Wall", in Garg, Anu (ed.), Another Word A Day: An All-new Romp through Some of the Most Unusual and Intriguing Words In English, John Wiley & Sons, p. 59, ISBN 9780471718451.
  4. ^ a b c The Wall Poems of Leiden, archived from the original on 2012-07-03, retrieved 2012-06-04.
  5. ^ Crerand, Patrick J. (2008), The Land of Good Deeds, Ph.D. thesis, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, p. 5, ISBN 9780549627180.
  6. ^ Wandeling langs de Muurgedichten van Leiden (in Dutch), archived from the original on 2012-01-25, retrieved 2012-06-04.
  7. ^ Dienst Bouwen en Wonen, Leiden, 1996, reprinted 2000 and 2005 by Burgersdijk & Niermans, Leiden; see worldcat. A second volume, published in 2005, (Dicht op de muur 2) describes the poems 44-101.
  8. ^ "Gedichten op murenroute Veenendaal van start", VeenendalseKrant (in Dutch), December 14, 2009.
  9. ^ Wall-to-Wall Poetry in A&W, Archipel Willemspark, archived from the original on 2012-10-25, retrieved 2012-06-04.
  10. ^ Dikov, Ivan (January 27, 2010), Wall-to-Wall Poetry: How the Dutch Bring European 'Unity in Diversity' to Sofia, Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency), archived from the original on 2011-09-20, retrieved 2012-06-04.
  11. ^ Le bateau ivre bien ancré dans le 6e (in French), City Hall of the 6th arrondissement, retrieved 2012-06-04.

External linksEdit