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Poems of Guido Gezelle

Poems of Guido Gezelle: A Bilingual Anthology OPEN ACCESS

Copyright Date: 2016
Published by: UCL Press
Pages: 252
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    Poems of Guido Gezelle
    Book Description:

    The Bruges-born poet-priest Guido Gezelle(1830–1899) is generally considered one of the masters of 19th-century European lyric poetry. At the end of his life and in the first two decades of the 20th century, Gezellewas hailed by the avant-garde as the founder of modern Flemish poetry. His unique voice was belatedly recognised in the Netherlands and often compared with his English contemporary Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889). In this bilingual anthology, award-winning translator Paul Vincent selects a representative picture of Gezelle’soutput, from devotional through narrative, to celebratory and expressionistic. Gezelle’sfavourite themes are childhood, the Flemish landscape, friendship, nature, religion and the Flemish vernacular, and his apparently simple poems conceal a sophisticated prosody and a dialogue with spiritual and literary tradition. However, an important barrier to wider international recognition of his lyric genius up to now has been the absence of translations that do justice to the vigour and musicality of Gezelle’sWest Flemish idiom. Two of the translations included go some way to redressing the balance: ‘TheWatter-Scriever’ by Scotland’s national poet Edwin Morgan and ‘A Little Leaf . . .’ by Francis Jones. Both translators make brilliant use of their own vernaculars (Glaswegian and North Yorkshire respectively) to bring Gezelleto life for the non-Dutch-speaking reader.

    eISBN: 978-1-910634-94-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History
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    This acclamation of Gezelle by an Expressionist of a succeeding generation is typical of the awe with which he has been regarded in his home culture. The writer August Vermeylen sees his significance for Flemish literature in biblical terms – that the poet himself would have no doubt found blasphemous: ‘In the beginning was Gezelle; and Gezelle was the Word …’¹

    However, amid the polemics and recriminations that seem inescapable accompaniments to literary commemorations nowadays, the Flanders-based Dutch writer Benno Barnard recently sparked controversy by suggesting that Gezelle had little to say to him as a reader at the end...


    Guido Gezelle, born in Bruges in 1830, left a varied œuvre as a man of letters, journalist, translator and populariser. But it is mainly as a poet that he occupies an illustrious position in the history of Dutch literature. He is undoubtedly the most innovative and original Flemish poet between 1680 and 1880. With his exceptional lyrical poetry he was some twenty years ahead of the renewal movement of the so-called Men of the Eighties at the end of the nineteenth century.

    His professional career as a priest was a fairly modest one; he became a teacher, a parish priest...


    I think that of all the activities open to those who like to think of themselves as literary scholars, translation is the most scientific. I know this goes against all received opinion, and yet if one accepts, with current philosophy of science, that the demarcation line between the scientific and the non-scientific is inter-subjective testability, it is easy to see that what a translator does to a literary text is much more easily testable than what a critic, for example, does to it. I try to translate accordingly. I believe that what I should do is to give readers the...