Hans Lodeizen

Dream and Reality, the Poetry of Hans Lodeizen

by Peter Lowensteyn


The paper discusses the poetry of the Dutch poet Hans Lodeizen in terms of the dream and reality conflict within the autobiographic character of the author's work. The paper analyses this theme through the various metaphors used by the poet.

The conflict grew out of the author's inability to find himself a place within a society, which in the late 1940's was rather intolerant of homosexuality. The disease leukaemia which killed Lodeizen in 1950 at the age of 26, strongly contributed to his feeling of alienation.

Lodeizen's work is a constant interplay between his quest for inner freedom and his fear of confinement. His poems reflect an escape into the daydreams of a future without disease, without social confinement, and with acceptance of love.

In Lodeizen's poetry nothing really "happens". Life is cyclical and measured in terms of life and death, evening-night-morning-afternoon, and the seasons. It is a common concept in literature that change is meaningless, since all is change. In Lodeizen's work change is meaningless because there is no future.

Lodeizen's poetry is a reflection on a single theme, the author's withdrawal into farthest selfhood which is expressed in encapsulated notions. This has invited the criticism that Lodeizen's poetry is interchangeable, that parts of one poem can be exchanged for other parts without much difficulty. Such criticism, however, shows lack of understanding for the single nature of Lodeizen's work.

Lodeizen, like his friend at Amherst College, the American poet James Merrill, uses the vocabulary of daily activity and conversation in his verses which make his poetry highly accessible. As Lodeizen was also a romantic poet who appealed to young poetry readers, this in part explains his success in Holland.