Kleengedichtjes - (1991)    

Guido Gezelle

Seven songs for high or medium voice and piano 

i.  o Vrije, vlaamsche poësis     [ 1 page, circa 1' 00" ]

o Vrije, vlaamsche poësis,
gij sprankel van de dichterziel
die brandend uit den hemel viel,
gij blomme en blinkend veldgewas,
gij orgeltaal, gij wierooktas,
gij..., al dat ik niet zeggen en kan,
men kent u niet in 't eigen land
der vrije, vlaamsche poësis!            


ii.  Als de ziele luistert     [ 2 pages, circa 1' 15" ]

Als de ziele luistert
spreekt het al een tal dat leeft,
't lijzigste gefluister
ook een taal en teeken heeft:
blaren van de boomen
kouten met malkaar gezwind,
baren in de stroomen
klappen luide en welgezind,
wind en wee en wolken,
wegelen van God's heiligen voet,
talen en vertolken
't diep gedoken Woord zoo zoet....
als de ziele luistert!                                                        


iii.  Janneke    [ 1 page, circa 30" ]

mijn manneke,
mijn hert-en hemeldief,
wel een ander,
neen, geen ander! - zijn zoo lief?   


iv.  De winden     [ 1 page, circa 1' 00" ]

Hoort, de winden buischen,
ruischen door den blaarden boom:
ze huischen,
ze ruischen,
ze buischen,
lijk peerden zonder toom!                                               


v.  Nar Hem     [ 1 page, circa 1' 30" ]

o mocht ik
o mocht ik
voor 't heilig Tabernakel staan,
o mocht ik
o mocht ik
darr brandend als een keerse staan,
o mocht ik
o mocht ik
ontsteken daar en uitgegaan,
o mocht ik
o mocht ik
naar Hem en in den hemel gaan!    


vi.  De snee     [ 2 pages, circa 1' 15" ]

De snee lag op de daken,
de snee lag achter 't land,
langs wegen, landen, straten,
't was snee al dat men vand,
al snee,
't was snee al dat men vand!   


vii.  In de blijde mei     [ 2 pages, circa 30" ]

't Was in de blijde mei,
ei, ei,
't was in de blijde mei!
En, kommend achter 't land gegaan,
'k zag all de blijde blomkens staan:
't was in de blijde mei,
ei, ei,
't was in de blijde mei!  


[ Total duration - 10 pages, circa 7' 00" ]

Guido Gezelle


Guido Gezelle (1830-1899) was  a Flemish poet and priest, who both was born and died in Bruges, Belgium. He studied first at the Klein Seminarie in Roeselare, then at the Groot Seminarie in Bruges. After his ordination in 1854 he became a teacher at Roeselare. He later became assistant director at the Seminarie in Bruges and assistant pastor at the parish of St. Walburgis in Bruges. He was moved to Courtrai in 1872. In 1899 he was recalled to Bruges and he died the same year. 

Even in his first collections of poems Dichtoefeningen (A Poet's Etudes) and Kerkhofblommen (Graveyard Flowers), both from 1858, Gezelle showed his mastery of the art of poetry. He wrote simple poems in Flemish to awake the spirituality of his pupils at the college in Roeselare. His Gedichten, gezangen, gebeden (Poems, Songs and Prayers, 1862) and Kleengedichtjes (Little Poems, 1860) are lyrical expressions of religious feelings. 

Across a 30 year span Guido Gezelle did not publish. Then in 1893 Tijdkrans (The Crown of Time) and in 1897 Rijmsnoer (A String of Rhymes) appeared. Typically, the poems in these volumes deal with nature, religion, and Flemish nationalism and display an original use of rhyme, metaphor, and sound.  These collections once again confirmed Gezelle's linguistic virtuosity through which he expressed his mystical love of God and creation.


These "small" songs were written during my work at the Monnaie/Munt in Brussels, and afterwards upon arriving back in California.


i. O free, Flemish Poetry


O free, Flemish poetry,

you spark the poet's soul

that fell burning from the sky,

your flowers and shining fields,

your organ sounds, your incense,

your...  and all I can neither say nor do,

they do not know you in your own native land,

this free, Flemish poetry.


ii. When the soul listens 


When the soul listens,

it speaks a language that lives

and softly whispers,

making itself heard:

leaves of the trees

swiftly babble to one another,

birthed in streams,

they applaud loud and happy,

wind, sorrow on clouds,

comes from God's holy feet

to talk and translate

the profound words, so sweet

when the soul listens.


iii. Janneke



my little man,

my heart and heaven's thief,

could there be another?
O no, no other as sweet as you.


iv. The Winds


Listen, the winds rush

through the tree leaves,

they listen,

they rustle,

they whisper

like horses running free.


v.  Near Him


O, if only I could,

O, if only I could

stand before the holy tabernacle.

O, if only I could,

O, if only I could

stand there burning like a candle,

O, if only I could,

O, if only I could

burn and fade away.

O, if only I could,

O, if only I could

go to Him in heaven.


vi.  The snow


The snow lay on the roof tops,

the snow lay on the land,

on roads, countryside and streets.

It was all snow that men found,

as the snow,

it was all snow snow that men found.


vii. In the joy-filled May


It was in the joy-filled May,

ha! ha!

It was in the joy-filled May!

And coming from beneath the land

I saw the happy flowers stand!

It was in the joy-filled May,

ha! ha!

It was in the joy-filled May!

In Guido Gezelle's Mijn dichten, mijn geliefde, (My Poems, My Beloved)
Piet Couttenier/Poeziecentrum/Gent

The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score, currently available in an edition for high voice.



Kleengedichtjes                         Kleengedichtjes

  for high voice                          for medium voice