Amsterdam is a city of wonder. And outside of the bars, the coffee shops, the “Red Light District” and the five star Amsterdam hotels, there is a rich artistic history. Writers, painters, sculptors and poets travel to this city for inspiration and bit of the life that is worth painting about or writing about or ideas and visions that are sculpted out of stone or set into Bronze. One such poet, not traveling to the city, but born there in 1798, is Isaac da Costa. Costa was born in Amsterdam, lived there and died there at the age of 62. He wrote in Dutch, many poems, papers and essays. He was born into a Jewish family of Portuguese stock, the son of an aristocrat. His father was a successful businessman and his mother was related to a high ranking political economist. Costa love books, loved to learn, and as many parents seeing this tendency in their children, law school was considered his destiny. He spent four years at the Latin school, studying law, and it was during this time he started writing poetry. His math professor at the time took notice and introduced him to a variety of Dutch poets, one of which was Bilderdijk , the most well respected and published of the art form. The two eventually became dear friends, but while he was young he was under the constant supervision of Bilderdijk, per his father’s request. His father wanted to insure his continued and very fine education.
While studying Costa received two PhD.s, one in Law and the other in Philosophy. He then married his cousin, who was a Christian, and soon was baptized into the Christian faith. He was becoming quite known for his writings, and upon the death of his beloved friend and mentor, Bilderdijk , he became known as the next Dutch fine poet. His poems reflected society and religious views, those expanded upon and due to his friendship and his faithful loyalty to that friend. He did write also of Judaism and of Israel , and his writings were so passionate and severe there were many times that censorship threatened to quiet his artistry. He was interested for all of his life, about different religions and while they may not have held the same truths that he held to be true, he always wrote with a sense of respect and awe and dignity. His work has been translated into many different languages and he is well loved and respected to this day as one of the very finest poets, and one of the gentle men, a gentleman of the written and spoken word.