André Henri Constant van Hasselt was a Flemish poet. Born at Maastricht, Van Hasselt was first educated in his native town. He studied his Atheneum (school for 12- to 18-year-olds) at the University of Liège (Hoogeschool van Luik), then in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands,
where he earned his doctor in rights. From 1827 up to 1832 he
established himself as a lawyer in Maastricht. In 1833 he left
Maastricht, then blockaded by the Belgian forces, and made his way to Brussels, where he became a naturalized Belgian, and was attached to the Bibliothèque de Bourgogne.
In 1843 he entered the education department, and eventually became a
provincial inspector of normal/elementary schools in Antwerp. Two years
later he was appointed special inspector to the normal schools and kept
this job until he died at Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, a suburb of Brussels, on 1 December 1874.
His native language was Dutch,
and as a French-writing poet André van Hasselt had to overcome the
difficulties of writing in a language foreign to his home land. He had
published a Chant héllenique in honour of Canaris in the columns of La Sentinelle des Pays-Bas as early as 1826, and other poems followed. His first volume of verse, Primeveres (1834), shows markedly the influence of Victor Hugo,
which had been strengthened by a visit to Paris in 1830. His relations
with Hugo became intimate in 1851-1852, when the poet was an exile in
Brussels. In 1839 he became editor of the Renaissance, a paper founded to encourage the fine arts.
His chief work, the epic of the Quatre Incarnations du Christ, was published in 1867. In the same volume were printed his Études rythmiques,
a series of metrical experiments designed to show that the French
language could be adapted to every kind of musical rhythm. With the same
end in view he executed translations of many German songs, and wrote
new French libretti for the best-known operas of Mozart, Weber and others.
A selection from his works (10 vols, Brussels, 1876–1877) was edited
by MM. Charles Hen and Louis Alvin. He wrote many books for children,
chiefly under the pseudonym of Alfred Avelines; and studies on
historical and literary subjects. The books written in collaboration
with Charles Hen are signed Charles André. A bibliography of his
writings is appended to the notice by Louis Alvin in the Biographie nat. de Belgique, vol. vii.
Van Hasselt's fame has continued to increase since his death. A series of tributes to his memory are printed in the Poesies choisies
(1901), edited by M. Georges Barral for the Collection des poètes
français de l'etranger. This book contains a biographical and critical
study by Jules Guillaume, and some valuable notes on the poet's theories of rhythm.