KEATS AND SHELLEY AND "DE BEWEGING VAN TACHTIG"
full assumption that an artist should assume a conscious attitude to his work. Sublimity there may have been in the moralising of Bilderdijk, in the sermonising of Da Costa; Kloos's part it was to show that there need be no less sublimity in the single-minded devotion of the artist to his technique. In any case, an attitude that had been admirable enough in the eighteenth century might well have grown futile in the 'eighties of the nineteenth century; so that even the critical severity of Kloos came to ring out like a peal of bells in a decidedly sultry age. And most important of all — not only was the age-long question to be correctly posed for the benefit of Holland; it was probably also to be more correctly answered than at any previous time.
In the votive task of keeping alive the memory of one young poet, Kloos was scarcely to know that he was about to raise an issue of the first magnitude for all poets. Yet, in seeking to interpret such essential poetry as was constituted by the "Mathilde" cycle, was he not bound to try to come to terms with the whole nature, art and practice of poetry? At any rate, in the critical Introduction he provided for his edition of Perk's poems in 1882, it is certain that we possess the most important document of its kind so far as the Dutch-speaking lands are concerned. "Men kan gerust zeggen," says the "Kloos-kenner" Khouw Bian Tie, "dat al zijn later werk bestaat in een gestaêg doordenken en steeds verdere verfijning van de leerstellingen, zoo vroeg reeds en waarschijnlijk meer door geniale intuitie dan door moeizame, logische redeneeringen gevonden." 1 It is no exaggeration to say that, with its various restatements, it has done for Dutch poetry what Wordsworth's famous Pref aces have done for English poetry. After fifty years it can confidently be said that its importance remains undisturbed. Its recognition by his contemporaries and successors is indeed striking in its unanimity. "Die Inleiding van Kloos," says Max Kijzer in one of the most 1 "Willem Kloos en de Dichtkunst," p. 2.