Maurice Polydore Marie Bernard Maeterlinck (also called Comte (Count) Maeterlinck; 29 August 1862 – 6 May 1949) was a Belgian playwright, poet, and essayist who wrote in French. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911. The main themes in his work are death and the meaning of life. His plays form an important part of the Symbolist movement.

Maeterlinck was born in Ghent, Belgium, to a wealthy, French-speaking family. His father, Polydore, was a notary who enjoyed tending the greenhouses on their property. His mother, Mathilde, came from a wealthy family.

In September 1874 he was sent to the Jesuit College of Sainte-Barbe, where works of the French Romantics were scorned and only plays on religious subjects were permitted. His experiences at this school influenced his distaste for the Catholic Church and organized religion.

He had written poems and short novels during his studies, but his father wanted him to go into law. After finishing his law studies at the University of Ghent in 1885, he spent a few months in Paris, France. He met some members of the new Symbolism movement, Villiers de l'Isle Adam in particular, who would have a great influence on Maeterlinck's subsequent work.


Maurice Maeterlinck Poems


My soul her unused hands to pray
Folds, that hide the world away:
Lord, my broken dreams complete,
That Thine angels' lips repeat.... more »

Stagnant Hours

Here are the old desires that pass,
The dreams of weary men, that die,
The dreams that faint and fail, alas!
And there the days of hope gone by!... more »

The Passions

Narrow paths my passions tread:
Laughter rings there, sorrow cries;
Sick and sad, with half-shut eyes,
Thro' the leaves the woods have shed,... more »

Maurice Maeterlinck Quotes

They believe that nothing will happen because they have closed their doors.
Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949), Belgian author. Old Man, in Interior (1894). In this play, the old man is looking in on a family who have yet to discover that one of their number has died.
Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves.
Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949), Belgian author. "Silence," The Treasure of the Humble (1896), trans. by Alfred Sutro (1908).
No great inner event befalls those who summon it not.
Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949), Belgian author. Wisdom and Destiny, p. 32 (1898), trans. by Alfred Sutro (1912).

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