DUTCH POETRY AND ENGL1SH
bloei der nationale letteren — eindelijk ook ontwaakten de Nederlandsche Muzen uit de lange sluimering van 1813 tot 1830." 1 With the poet Potgieter I am here naturally less concerned than with the critic. He began as a poet certainly, but there is not a great deal in his large output to encourage the belief that he was a man gifted with more than ordinary organic sensibility. His late masterpieces, "Florence" and Gedroomd Paardrijden , certainly show his art deepened and enriched by years of disciplined study, but up to a point I agree with Ten Brink when $e says again: "Ondanks al zijn meesterschap dunkt mij, dat Potgieter als dichter in 1840 met zijne 'Liedekins van Bontekoe' meer harten veroverd heeft, dan met zijn 'Florence' in 1868." 2 In these later poems he has simply got over "de JanSalie-geest"; but if no longer addicted to the representation of vulgar manners — never in very vulgar language, be it said he is so consciously concemed to preserve outward decorum and correctness that he swings to the opposite extreme and becomes more truly the mystifying man of travel and the historical dreamer. The sovereign poet, however, must be more than a scholar, no matter how erudite; he must also be a sage. It is Potgieters cardinal deficiency, therefore, that he does not extend in width as in height. When, Wordsworth-like, he should be prepared to enunciate a great personal philosophy, he is ready to put bef ore us merely two sets of reminiscences; and reminiscences so involved as to stand in continuous need of the most lavish foot-notes — the fact that these are in prose might well have suggested the use of prose all through as a medium better suited to the laboured exercises in question!
As a poet Potgieter is more curiously uneven in some respects than Bilderdijk. In the end his poetry breaks down through pretentiousness and over-elaboration; yet in nearly all his early work
1 "Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Letterkunde," p. 635.
2 7bid., p. 637.