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Guido Gezelle
(May 1, 1830 - November 27, 1899) Belgium

Guido Gezelle

Priest and poet

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Gezelle, a Flemish priest, teacher, and poet, born in Bruges, a Roman Catholic priest is seen by the Belgians as one of their greatest poets. A forerunner of the Flemish literary revival, he was the leading poet of the Flemings. In six volumes of lyrics, especially Rijmsnoer (Necklace of Rhymes, 1897), he combined a love of nature, a championing of the Flemish cause, and an intense feeling for religion. He wrote in the popular idiom of his region.

Guido Gezelle also voiced strong feelings for some of his pupils. Gezelle expressed the "spiritual twofoldness" between master and student in some of his best poems. His homoerotic feelings may have been platonic. Certainly, some of his admirers resist any suggestion that his feelings for his pupils were sexual.

Nevertheless, his relationship with Eugène van Oye, whom he admired for his "angelic innocence" and whom he tried to comfort in his loneliness in the seminary, was deep indeed. It struck him as a tragedy when van Oye left the seminary in Roeselare in 1859. In his lamentation To an Absent Friend, published in 1862, he called his loss greater than that of a mother missing her child.

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