"The spring is new and new the sound it brings."
May describes the magical journey of adolescence against the background of Holland's flowery dunescapes. In brush strokes of wonder-filled impressions a stunningly unspoiled girl, May, explores the promise of springtime and the intense spiritual life of youth. However, the cycle of life always moves on, and as May matures and returns to earth, she finds it readying for summer.
When Herman Gorter published Mei (May) in 1889, this spontaneous and vibrant epic poem was immediately recognized by his peers as a landmark of Dutch literature. Inspired in part by John Keats' Endymion (1818), the poem touches upon a wide range of themes, including the innocence and wonder of childhood, the hubris and disillusionment of adolescence, unattainable divine love and the inevitability of transience, The work suggests that poetry itself may be the only way to preserve for eternity the essence of nature and of music.
Mei was perhaps an inevitable product of the artistically revolutionary and highly lucid spirit in The Netherlands of the 1880s. While Gorter's contemporary, Vincent van Gogh, had just completed the groundbreaking Sunflowers series of paintings, Gorter succeeded with Mei to compose his own artistic monument of innovative and colourful power.
The reader is drawn almost breathlessly onward through magnificent word-groups ... The result is a gripping story full of surprising turns of phrase ... Before you know it, you'll be reading it out loud! - Lloyd Haft, prizewinning poet and translator
This thoughtful, lyrical translation will stir the imagination and invite consideration of what makes the heart sing, even if the joy, like May, is only temporary. The poem, though, will endure. - Editor's Pick, BookLife
The translation has been done meticulously ... with an intensity of language which reveals intuitive clarity of vision and profound empathy ... I recommend that you begin this journey without loss of time. - Anne Walter, editor, ex. Birmingham University
Translating Mei, the epic poem by Herman Gorter, requires musicality ... A great achievement by [translator] Kruijff, with lots of inventive rhyme. It is possible! - Arjan Peters, Dutch literary critic
May has been published in illustrated, bilingual and annotated hardcover edition in The Netherlands and Belgium on 24 March 2021, and has been advertised locally through a press release, mailings to bookstores, freecards and Facebook ad campaigns,
It has been pre-published in the United States as ebook and paperback in English-only, revised edition as of 26 May 2021. Marketing is through reviews, mailings to bookstores and Facebook ad campaigns.
May will be published in illustrated edition in the UK with Stour Valley Publishing, autumn 2021. At the same time, we hope to publish an exciting new translation of Selected Poems of Herman Gorter.
A reading of May and some Selected Poems as an audiobook by performance artist Simon Mulder is under preparation, and readings of Gorter's work in the UK are in the works for 2022. See https://bit.ly/3BHRmgv
Please contact us for venue offerings.
Average rating from 8 members
You might expect that to read a poem over 150 pages long would be a grueling undertaking. I suppose if you hate poetry and clever wordplay and beautiful symbolism and gentle syllables, it would be a terrible experience. However, if you enjoy even one of these things and are committed to reading the entirety of section 2 in one sitting, you'll likely be delighted by this book. I was continually surprised and delighted by the intricate word choices and the foamy imagery. I'll never think of the month of May quite the same way again.
This story envelopes you in a cocoon of May. You get lost in her tale and of the tale of the one who loves her most. Vivid sceneries transport you across the springtime and beyond, telling the tale of the rise and fall of "May". A most enjoyable tale in verse.
I really like the front cover it’s beautiful and the colour blue really drawn me to the book. I found May hard to get into myself but some of the descriptions are really good and you can really see what the writer is portraying. Thank you NetGalley for letting me read this book.