Selected Poems : Translated by Lloyd Haft [The Essential Gorter]
Gorter, Herman; Polakovičová, Eva; Kruijff, M.; Haft, Lloyd
Arimei Books, 2021
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Paperback: EUR 14,99
The most extensive selection in English of poems by one of the all-time great Dutch poets, Herman Gorter (1864-1927), incl. selection from the sensitivist Verses, the socially engaged Pan and Lyrics.
OVER DE AUTEUR: Herman Gorter (1864-1927)
Gorter was born in Wormerveer, a rural town in the north-western Netherlands. His father, a pastor, died when he was six years old. Gorter studied classical languages in Amsterdam and became a teacher at a high school.
In 1889, after three years of work on his epic poem May (in Dutch: Mei), Gorter finally could proclaim “the thing is done.” May was published in the contemporary periodical The New Guide (De Nieuwe Gids). It was a retrospect of Gorter’s youth, borrowing both form and theme from John Keats’ Endymion (1818), yet tracing its way through a wide range of impressions: of nature, music, love, the search for the divine, disillusion, transience, and melancholic reflection. Spontaneous and full of vibrant imagery, May quickly became a landmark of the 1880s literary movement in The Netherlands, the so-called ‘Eightiers’ (Tachtigers), which attempted to reclaim aesthetics for art.
In 1890, the even more innovative Verses (Verzen) were published, in which Gorter digs further and tries to let his spiritual and sensual emotions express themselves. Always in search of the ultimate form of poetry, Gorter would gradually distance himself from the individualistic ‘Eightiers’ movement. He became increasingly politically engaged and turned to expressing his Marxist ideals through his work, for example in the epic poem Pan (1916) and Lyrics (Liedjes, 1930). Gorter however never gave up his identity as a poet. Love remained a key theme in his work until his death.
This is the most extensive selection in English of poems by one of the all-
time great Dutch poets, Herman Gorter (1864-1927). A companion volume to M. Kruijff’s translation of the epic May, this book welcomes the reader to the rich spectrum of Gorter’s lyric verse.
The selection traces the stages of Gorter’s career as a poet. It opens with 22 poems from his introvertive ‘sensitivist’ Verses (Verzen, 1890) which have been called the beginning of modern Dutch poetry. These are followed by poems from later collections in which Gorter was transitioning to a less self- and more world-focused perspective. In the subsequent passages from the long epic Pan (1912/1916), he has clearly become a ‘socialist’ poet, albeit in a unique visionary sense. He is now pursuing a theme which will obsess him for the rest of his life: how to address the object of his love as both an individual woman and an incarnate summation of all humanity.
The rest of the book comprises the first publication in English of Gorter’s little-known last work Lyrics (Liedjes,1930). Haft’s judicious abridgment preserves the structure, erotic themes, and lyric high points of this outstanding sequence which originally occupied three volumes.
Translator Lloyd Haft (1946) grew up in the USA and graduated from Harvard. Graduate studies in Chinese took him to Leiden, and he has lived in The Netherlands since 1968. He soon discovered a fascination with modern Dutch poetry, starting with Herman Gorter’s famous (or notorious) Verses.
He became a regular translator for Poetry International and published ten volumes of his own poetry in Dutch, including a free-verse adaptation of the Psalms which won the 2004 Ida Gerhardt Prize.
Professionally, for many years Lloyd Haft taught Chinese language and literature at Leiden University. Since retirement he has spent much of his time in Taiwan with his wife Katie Su, a writer on theater arts in Taiwan. His collected translations from the metaphysical poet Zhou Mengdie are scheduled for publication in 2021.
Volume 2 of The Essential Gorter collection.
In Haft’s version, Gorter sounds the way he should sound: musical and sensitive, at times groping, at other times jubilant, always sure of himself and amazing. For readers of English it will be a feast to be able to make
his acquaintance via this translation. - Piet Gerbrandy, winner of the Herman Gorter Prize
bloemlezing één dichter
vertaalde poëzie ééntalig (in vertaalde taal)
Gestorven aan angina pectoris
'Een nieuwe lente en een nieuw geluid'
'Zie je ik hou van je'