Together with Karel van de Woestijne and Jan Hendrik Leopold, Boutens was one of the great poets of the generation that succeeded the writers of the Eighties Movement and also one of the most productive symbolical poets ever to write in the Netherlands.
In his time, Boutens was often called the undisputed ‘emperor of poets’. None of his contemporaries could express the desire for Absolute Beauty as he did. His exceptionally personal style of writing is characterized by a profuse use of adjectival structures, suggestive and tautological compounds, obscure metaphors, paradoxes and equivoques.
In his lyrics Boutens tried to set ajar the door to eternity. Late in his life, he achieved this by adding a mystical dimension to his religious feelings. This is what makes his work as a poet so unique. Without Boutens, Dutch literature of the early twentieth century would have been inconceivable.