KEATS AND SHELLEY AND "DE NIEUWE GIDS"
before the end of the nineteenth century we begin to witness the final subsidence of that great and indubitably Romantic wave which had traversed the century — and more — and of which the "Beweging van Tachtig" in Holland may be said to mark the ultimate high-level mark; and, faced once more with a collection of individual writers, must seek at last to dislimn the special ideals, hopes, dreams, illusions, which had for a brief period inspired the many tones and moods of the national poetry. There is, of course, no end to art or to the poet's endeavour to interpret phenomena to man; and we must simply face the fact that among men so strongly original as the Tachtigers, the development of life was bound to lead to some such sort of poetic impasse. In Kloos, the leader, "pure poetry" thus wilted to some extent when his mind was confronted with the insolubility of the cosmic problem. He was not the type of man, of course, to surrender easily; but even he was forced to find a way of escape. And this he did by slipping back — through a sort of tentative classicism — into the serenity and sanity of the Greek spirit. For Gorter, in turn, there supervenes the question of his Socialism. I shall not say that a prophetic mind like his was unable to find expression on the political level, but the position is vastly complicated by the necessity to decide how far a poet's political opinions must be understood before his poetry can be fully enjoyed. In Van Eeden, obviously, it was the preponderance of the religious element that occasioned the break-down, for I do not know that — like Mathew Arnold here — he ever found any considerable connection between poetry and religion.
From the fact that, in this way, the "Nieuwe-Gids" poets failed to settle the paramount question — the relationship of art to life — it might be thought that the end had been disastrous for them. Such a reading, however, would be in no sense justified. The "Beweging van Tachtig", while it may have been one of the most definite of its kind — planned, that is, before it was created