Émile Verhaeren, poet of the Honnelles
When Emile Verhaeren, the illustrious Belgian poet, walked on the Honnelles soil for the first time, he thought he would die of boredom. A century after his death, you never tire of reading the texts written in the municipality that he finally ended up loving, time and time again. The Museum Verhaeren in Roisin revisits that amazing story.
It is a little bit by chance that Émile Verhaeren discovered Roisin. While visiting a friend who was resting in the inn of Léon Laurent following the death of her husband, he discovered the landscapes of Roisin, the Caillou-qui-Bique and Angreau and literally fell in love with the place. From 1899 to 1914, he stayed at the inn of Léon Laurent many times. He even over time started to call it 'my home'.
'Verhaeren was walking in the forest but also in the great plains' explains René Legrand, President of the ASBL Mémoire d’Émile Verhaeren and guide at the Espace muséal Verhaeren. "He would be talking to the trees, plants, branches, birds... '. He was nicknamed the fool of the forest. Contrary to what one might think, he did not live as a recluse in the village, he socialised with the farmers, the clog makers and did not hesitate to chat with people. He has forever marked the history of Roisin" says the guide emotionally.
Part of the old inn where the poet stayed hosts a museum space dedicated to the artist and the intimate story that linked him to Roisin. You can discover his texts, his wanderings, his life here, but also the cultural effervescence of Roisin at the beginning of the past century. At the dawn of the 20th century, the poet achieved world fame. Verhaeren travelled throughout Europe he gave lectures and King Albert I proclaimed him national poet. In 1911, he narrowly missed the Nobel Prize for literature.
The Emile Verhaeren museum presents a series of reproductions of historical documents and paintings reflecting the privileged contacts between the poet and the greats of the art world of the time: Seurat, Verlaine, Van Rysselberghe, Rodin, Ruffin, Destrée or Camille Lemonnier... "Some came to visit him, there was a time when the whole world came to Roisin!" says René Legrand not without pride.
A pacifist activist, the poet denounces the warlike madness in 1914. Ironically, Verhaeren died accidentally in 1916 in Rouen, under the wheels of a train, pushed by the crowd.
Espace muséal Verhaeren, 23 rue Emile Verhaeren, B-7387 Roisin-Honnelles, 00 32 65 36 04 64. Open on Sundays and public holidays, from 3 pm to 5.30 pm, from the 1st weekend in April to the 1st weekend in October.
Great Idea: The circuit of the Rocks. Departing from the Verhaeren memorial near the Museum, a signposted 4 km circuit follows in the footsteps of the artist. On the circuit, rocks display the most beautiful verses of the author.