As a young man Diepenbrock greatly admired the poetry by Willem Kloos and at a later age he was often moved by the beauty of his verses as well. However, he never set any of Kloos’ many poems to music. When he was a Latin and Greek student, the budding composer became friends with the poet who was three years his senior and came to mean a lot to him. Being the editor of the poems by Jacques Perk (1859-1881) who had an untimely death, Kloos opened up the world of modern poetry to Diepenbrock:
That small booklet was the first to disclose the beauty of the Dutch language to me [...]. (VG:334) It was Kloos who brought Novalis to his attention in their conversations.
In a retrospective of 1910 Diepenbrock remembered the impression Kloos had made with his unusual appearance and his
wonderful Delft blue eyes in the student circles they both belonged to:
an appearance that did not fit in there, but which to me felt inexpressibly benevolent [...] and to which I was irresistibly drawn by a mysterious feeling of being some kind of soul mate. (VG:333)
Diepenbrock soon discovered that the music he was so full of, meant nothing to Kloos and left him cold. Therefore the composer hardly ever invited the poet to performances of his compositions and from 1894 onwards, kept up the friendship through a regular correspondence, mostly on classical and literary topics.
Homage to Kloos
On 6 May 1909 homage was paid to Willem Kloos in his hometown The Hague on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday. Due to circumstances, Diepenbrock could not attend the celebrations, so the next day he wrote him a cordial letter:
For you revealed and conjured up before my eyes and imagination the image, the living image of the Poet, the vision I needed and which gave me strength when I was full of doubt and I, as the prodigal son of the Muse, was looking after the swine in the philology, although these impressions remained in a certain sense fruitless, as I was not a poet of the word! I still have vivid memories of our first meeting, and how long I walked through the city with you one spring evening in 1884 and you then took me to your room in the “Pijp” district, put on the light and explained to me the difference between good and bad poetry. I cherish all those memories, and also the manuscripts of your poems that I have and that I reverently hold on to. (BD VI:111)
On 19 May 1909 Diepenbrock received his numbered copy of the bibliophile edition in a gilded cover of Honderd verzen en “Okeanos” van Willem Kloos (A Hundred Verses and “Okeanos” by Willem Kloos), a selection made by the poet of his works from the past 30 years. On 20 May Diepenbrock set the beginning of the sonnet Liedren als klinkende luiten (Songs as Sounding Lutes, no. 66 in the collection) to music. He had conceived the melody before, as it is notated on the back of a sketch of Carmen saeculare (RC 52) from 1901. It turned up again as part of Der Abend (The Evening, RC 90) that was eventually discarded. Diepenbrock’s composition, which did not go beyond a setting of the first two lines of the poem, might have been intended as an homage to his long friendship with Willem Kloos.