DUTCH POETRY AND ENGLISH
that we should not find so much as the vaguest intimations of one: if only, instead of the accepted pattern of Dutch riverine ode — the artificial, mythology-charged "Ystroom , Rottestroom", "Amstelstroom" — we could have looked forward to something akin to the gently inspired ruminations of Cowper by placid Ouse! But the truth is that in the men from whom he could best have learned an imaginative love of nature — the contemporary painters — Vondel was amazingly disinterested. As the painters were quick to discover, the contours of the country admirably suited natural delineation; and if poetry lagged behind, the fault must be accounted primarily to Vondel. He lived among great painters, yet failed incredibly to realize their powerful genius - only once does he name Rembrandt in his work,1 he has little to say of Steen, Ostade, Teniers, and otherrealists,andthough he may bestow some praise on Rubens, he seems, on the whole, to prefer the Italian idealists, Raphael above all. "Now and then," says Van Noppen, "his descriptions remind one of the brooding landscapes of the 'melancholy Ruysdael'; at other times of the creations of Lingelbach and Pynache, in these striking scenes where Dutch realism and Italian fancy are oddly combined." 2 With this view I am not going out of my way to quarrel, though one can scarcely afford not "to hold opinion'. But when he goes the length of definitely naming Vondel "the painter's poet", 3 (seemingly on the imagined strength of such 'reminders' and the numerous inscriptions actually wntten for paintings), then I feel I most heartily want to dissent. Few terms could be used of him, I think, more inapt than this one; it is . just the absence of appreciation of the sister art that I seem to feel most of all on this side of his work. The Painter's Poet!
1 Vide A. J. Barnouw, "Vondel," p. 163 and p. 179, and "De Werken van
Vondel," Vol. IV, p. 10.
2 "Vondel's 'Lucifer'", p. 133.
3 Jbid., p. 129.