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Intermediate level: cycle 4
Dichtkunst ~ Poetry
|• Vondel, Tollens, Van Duyse|
Joost van den Vondel is to Dutch literature what Shakespeare is to the English one: the Grand Old Master, who wrote magnificent dramatic plays, but whose language is not always easy to understand. The orthography of the 17th century has some remarkable similarities with English, e.g. the use of -ck- (ick) instead of -k- (ik) or the use of -gh- (ooghen) instead of -g- (ogen) for the guttural spirant. In English it still occurs in word like laugh, though or nigh although it has either gone mute or been replaced by [f]. Of course there are also more case endings in his language than there are today
In 1632 Van den Vondel had to witness the death of his little son Constantijn and he wrote a famous poem about it. At the end of his 91 year long life he had outlived all but one grandson.
Tollens's parents came from Gent, but he grew up in Holland and joined a paint company founded there by Johannes Jodocus Tollens in 1748. As a poet he was much admired in his day, including in Flanders as we shall seen below. He wrote mostly about the beauty and virtue of ordinary family life and about loyalty and love for God an country. In the 1880's a new generation of poets -to which e.g. Gorter belonged- would find fault with the very conservative state that Dutch literature had fallen into. Although Tollens was long dead by then, he became one of the prime targets of their scorn. So much so that it took to our own days for the poet to become judged by his own merits again, rather then through the eyes of the Tachtigers as they were called.
Tollens wrote many rather lengthy poems, but in this short one he revisits the same issue as Vondel did two centuries before and his version shows remarkable parallels with Vondel's poem.
Prudens Van Duyse (1804-1859)
Prudence Van Duyse was an important figure is the Vlaamse Beweging, the movement in Flanders that resisted the pressure to squeeze out the Dutch language and its Flemish dialects in favor of everything French. He wrote much of better days that Flanders had seen, particularly its heighday in 1304 when it thwarted the French king's attempts to gain greater control over Flanders in a pitched battle against French nobility. For Tollens however, Van Duyse had nothing but praise, that he expressed in a pretty lengthy poem of which we show one stanza here.
- The Batavii were a tribe that the Roman found living in the region between the great rivers. During the French revolution the Republic of the Netherlands toppled the old regime and the House of Orange went into exile, the Republic was renamed the Batavian Republic. So, Batavian is a nickname for Dutchman