You see, I love you

You see, I love you

Herman Gorter (1864 – 1927) is one of the most important Dutch poets of the nineteenth century. This is the translation of the poem “Zie je ik hou van je” (“You see, I love you”).

Herman Gorter in 1926 (Dutch National Archives)
Image source: Wikipedia

Who was Herman Gorter?

Gorter was one of the members of the group of poets who are known as De Tachtigers (The Eighties). His debut was quite the work. The poem Mei (May) is still very famous. This poem sealed his faith as a great poet.


He was very much interested in a new political movement: socialism. He became the Dutch Sociaal-Democratische Arbeiderspartij (not to be confused with the national socialistic party of Adolf Hitler). His poem Pan that he wrote in 1912 was all about a global war, that eventually would lead to a socialist revolution. At the time the socialist movement decided to follow the steps taken by the Russian communists and changed the name of the party to the Communist Party of Holland, he left this party (1919). He founded the Communist Workers Party of Germany in 1921 in the German city Essen. Eventually, he died in 1927 in the Belgian capital Brussels.

About "You see, I love you"

About the poem

Gorter wrote a beautiful love poem. It describes the many reasons why he’s in love. But there is one problem: he knows how to describe his love, but can’t tell her about this love. Is that because it’s a one-sided love or he feels that his words are never enough. Never enough, because he finds these words not good enough. When reading this poem, you can only conclude one thing: Gorter was able to describe his love, because of his word choice.

You see, I love you

You see, I love you

You see, I love you,
I think you are so sweet and so light
your eyes are so full of light
I love you, I love you

And your nose and your mouth and your hair
and your eyes and your neck, where
your collar is and your ear
covered by your hair

You see, it would be so dear
but i can’t be that,
the light that surrounds you, you are what
you are eventually

Oh yes, I love you, endlessly*
I love you so practically,
I wish I could say that,
But I this I’m not good at**

— Herman Gorter

* Strict translated: I love you so much.

 ** Strict translated: But I cannot say this to you.

Zie je ik hou van je

Zie je ik hou van je,
ik vin je zo lief en zo licht –
je ogen zijn zo vol licht,
ik hou van je, ik hou van je.
En je neus en je mond en je haar
en je ogen en je hals waar
je kraagje zit en je oor
met je haar er voor.

Zie je ik wou graag zijn
jou, maar het kan niet zijn,
het licht is om je, je bent
nu toch wat je eenmaal bent.

O ja, ik hou van je,
ik hou zo vrees’lijk van je,
ik wou het helemaal zeggen –
Maar ik kan het toch niet zeggen.

— Herman Gorter

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