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DUTCH POETRY AND ENGLISH

something of the unique importance of Wordsworth's famous Prefaces for England, first written twenty years later. That must sound a very large claim, but I am prepared to stand by it: there are some of Van Alphen's dicta, I do genuinely consider, that are not unworthy of Romanticism's greatest poet-critic, even if the utterance is not always so felicitous and he has nothing to match in sheer originality with the famous definition that "poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity". For instance, over the thorny question of "poetic diction" he writes that de verbetering en volmaking van eene taal, met opzigt tot de poëzie, daar in bijzonder bestaat, dat men ze beeldiger make, en dat men er meer harmonie en melodie inbrenge'. 1 This may not involve him in any doctrine so speciously simple as Wordsworth's "selection of language really used by men", but it has the definite savour of his continuation: "and, at the same time, to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual aspect".

Van Alphen is also with the English poet in wishing "to be considered as a teacher, or as nothing"; at least, the art of poetry is to him like "een leermeester, die zijne discipelen laat wandelen of spelemeijen, maar die, terwijl hij zijne leidende hand verbergt, hun gedurig zulke voorwerpen op hunnen weg doet aantreffen, die hen leeren, vermaanen en verbeteren." 2 But most of all is he Wordsworthian when he comes to consider the nature and the character of the poet, and desiderates for him the qualities of: "Teergevoeligheid, aandoenlijkheid, wederomklinkende vlugheid — mogelijkheid en dispositie om alles gemakkelijk, rein, zuiver en geheel te ontvangen, en gemakkelijk en rein en geheel wederom te geven; egter met een bijvoegsel van zijne eigene egte indivi-

1 "Digtkundige Verhandelingen," XII.

2 "Digtkundige Verhandelingen," p. 257.

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