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Poems of Guido Gezelle: A Bilingual Anthology

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Guido Gezelle, translated by Paul Vincent | November 2016

Format: 216 x 140mm
Open Access PDF
ISBN: 978-1-910634-94-3
ISBN: 978-1-910634-92-9
ISBN: 978-1-910634-93-6
ISBN: 978-1-910634-95-0

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About the book

The Bruges-born poet-priest Guido Gezelle (1830-1899) is generally considered one of the masters of 19th-century European lyric poetry. At the end of his life and in the first two decades of the 20th century, Gezelle was hailed by the avant-garde as the founder of modern Flemish poetry. His unique voice was belatedly recognised in the Netherlands and often compared with his English contemporary Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889).

In this bilingual anthology, award-winning translator Paul Vincent selects a representative picture of Gezelle’s output, from devotional through narrative, to celebratory and expressionistic. Gezelle’s favourite themes are childhood, the Flemish landscape, friendship, nature, religion and the Flemish vernacular, and his apparently simple poems conceal a sophisticated prosody and a dialogue with spiritual and literary tradition. 

However, an important barrier to wider international recognition of his lyric genius up to now has been the absence of translations that do justice to the vigour and musicality of Gezelle’s West Flemish idiom. Two of the translations included here go some way to redressing the balance: ‘The Watter-Scriever’ by Scotland’s national poet Edwin Morgan and ‘A Little Leaf . . .’ by Francis Jones. Both translators make brilliant use of their own vernaculars (Glaswegian and North Yorkshire respectively) to bring Gezelle to life for the non-Dutch-speaking reader.

About the translator

Paul Vincent studied at Cambridge and Amsterdam, and after teaching Dutch at the University of London for over 20 years became a full-time translator in 1989. In 2011, having twice won the Reid Poetry Translation Prize, he was awarded the Vondel Dutch Translation Prize for his version of Louis Paul Boon’s My Little War. His translation of a selection of Gorter's Poems of 1890 was published in open access by UCL Press in 2015. He is an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Dutch at UCL.