Gezelleplein is named after Bruges’ most famous poet, Guido Gezelle (1830-99), a Catholic priest. Although he tried to develop an independent Flemish language, he is considered one of the greatest Dutch poets and a pioneer of literary Impressionism.
Bruges – Fact Check

Guido Gezelle, Bruges' priest-poet

Photo by Jurjen Drenth

Bruges – Fact Check Guido Gezelle, Bruges' priest-poet

Bruges, like so many other places in the Flanders region of Belgium, has long sought to define its linguistic and cultural position: balancing the French and Flemish parts of its identity.

Kieran Meeke
Kieran Meeke Travel Writer

For centuries, poets and writers have tried to create a distinctly “Flemish” literature; most prominently among them Guido Gezelle (for which the central Gezelleplein square in Bruges, pictured above, is named).

Gezelle, a Roman Catholic priest born and bred in Bruges, sought to create a distinctive West Flemish language distinct from the Dutch to which Flemish is closely related: writing deeply religious and mystical poetry inspired by local dialects. He is also famous for translating Longfellow's “Song of Hiawatha” into Flemish.

Today – despite his efforts to divorce Flemish from Dutch – he is widely recognized as one of the greatest poets in the Dutch canon, as well as a significant figure in Flemish letters.

One of his most celebrated poems is the deeply sensual “The Night and the Rose” which reads in part:

“I have many a flower for you

read and given, and, like a bee, with you, with you,

drank honey from it; but never an hour as sweet with you,

as long as it could last, but never an hour as sad for you,

when I had to leave you, as the hour when I close to you,

that night, sitting down, heard you talking and said to you

that which our souls know.”

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