Emile Verhaeren

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Émile Verhaeren by Stefan Zweig (1914)

Emile Verhaeren (21 May 1855 – 27 November 1916) was a Belgian poet. He wrote in the French language. He is one of the chief founders of the school of Symbolism.

At the age of eleven, he was sent to a strict boarding school in Ghent run by Jesuits - The Jesuit College of Sainte Barbe. He then went to study law at the University of Leuven. He did his first writing here in a student paper.

Having gained his law degree, he became a trainee (1881–1884) with Edmond Picard. Picard was a renowned criminal lawyer, who also was involved with the Brussels artistic scene. Verhaeren tried only two cases in a courtroom before deciding to dedicate his life to poetry and literature.

He soon became the spokesperson for the artistic revival at the turn of the century. He enjoyed the works of the painters of the artistic circle "Les XX". He wrote many articles in La Jeune Belgique and L'Art Moderne. His articles brought many promising young talents, such as James Ensor, to the attention of the public.

Through these articles, he became a lifelong friend of Belgian painter Théo van Rysselberghe.

Verhaeren was one of the most prolific poets of his time. His first collection of poems "Les Flamandes" was published in 1883. It was an immediate success in some settings. But it caused a great deal of controversy in Catholic circles. His next book "Les Moines" (1886) was not the success he had hoped for.

On 24 August 1891 he married Marthe Massin, a talented artist from Liège.

He wrote his first play "Les Aubes" in 1898. In 1898 he moved to Saint-Cloud, near Paris. By the turn of the century, he had become world-famous. His works were translated into more than twenty languages.

Emile Verhaeren died on 27 November 1916 at Rouen station by falling under a train.

Principal works[change | edit source]

  • Les Flamandes, 1883
  • Les moines, 1886
  • Les soirs, 1888
  • Les débâcles, 1888
  • Les flambeaux noirs, 1891
  • Les campagnes hallucinées, 1893
  • Les villes tentaculaires, 1895
  • Les heures claires, 1896
  • Les visages de la vie, 1899
  • Les forces tumultueuses, 1902
  • La multiple splendeur, 1906
  • Les rythmes souverains, 1910
  • Les ailes rouges de la guerre, 1916
  • Les flammes hautes, 1917 [written in 1914]

Other websites[change | edit source]