DUTCH POETRY AND ENGLISH
But how unimaginative, how soulless, the system it enshrines! That, as it happens, is as far as the book reaches; and for the third and last category of bards there is — fortunately perhaps — but the scantiest consideration possible. Under this arbitrary method one thing alone seems to matter — and that is that the poet should contrive to complete his work neatly within the limits set, should not impinge the slightest partiele on the province of those who went before and those who must come after him. So much does the whole process savour of looking to creative writers to turn out their productions to order almost, it might be, at piece-work rates! — that, on the basis of the typical sentence, "Ons geschiedverhaal eindigt met 1880, het jaar der verschijning van Jong-Holland III",1 one might be forgiven for wondering if it does not also begin to suggest literary history to order!
If any poet has a right to be considered as a man and not as a 'Movement', it is assuredly Perk. In his work are at last to be found most of the important elements that we associate with Romantic literature — passion for nature, reverence for the dignity of individual personality, hatred of shram and hypocrisy; in him we so definitely reach towards a culminating point in the story of Romanticism in Holland that his place in the poetic succession must be a matter of more than usual concern. With only one of his contemporaries can Perk be said to have made any sort of common cause; Kloos alone seemed to him to be worth his strife: none of the others had grasped the new principles in their highest form, none seemed to sense where such revolutionary theories of art might be leading. But, to begin with, he stood out by himself; unaided, he had to decide upon his capability to appreciate a finer music. It did not take his keen mind long to decide. Unerringly, he saw that if the poetry of his country were to gain to a new and piercing sweetness of tone, it could
1 Op. cit., p. 669.