Brief bio sketch

Lloyd Haft (1946- ) was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin USA and lived as a boy in Wisconsin, Louisiana and Kansas. In 1968 he graduated from Harvard College and went to Leiden, The Netherlands for graduate study in Chinese (M. A. 1973, Ph. D. 1981). From 1973 to 2004 he taught Chinese language and literature, mostly poetry, at Leiden. His sinological publications include Pien Chih-lin: A Study in Modern Chinese Poetry (1983/2011; published in Chinese translation as 发现卞之琳: 一位西方学者的探索之旅 in 2010) and Zhou Mengdie’s Poetry of Consciousness (2006). His most recent sinological book, a liberal modern Dutch reading of Laozi's Daode jing, was published as Lau-tze's vele wegen by Synthese in September 2017. His newest book of poems in Dutch, Intocht (Introit) has been available as a POD from the American Book Center since June 2018.

He has translated extensively into English from the Dutch of Herman Gorter and Willem Hussem, and from the Chinese of various poets including Lo Fu, Yang Lingye, Bian Zhilin and Zhou Mengdie.

Since the 1980s he has also been active as a poet writing in Dutch and English. He was awarded the Jan Campert Prize for his 1993 bilingual volume Atlantis and the Ida Gerhardt Prize for his 2003 Dutch free-verse readings of the Psalms (republished by Uitgeverij Vesuvius in 2011). His newer poems are published (some republished) on this blog. His newest book of poetry in Dutch is Intocht (Introit), issued by the American Book Center in June 2018.

After early retirement in 2004, for a number of years Lloyd Haft spent much of his time in Taiwan with his wife Katie Su. In addition to writing and translating, his interests include Song-dynasty philosophy and taiji quan. For many years he sang in the choir of a Roman Catholic church of the Eastern Rite in The Hague.

Monday, January 24, 2011

New Testament Poems (1-7)

by Lloyd Haft

(1) [Mattthew 1: 1-17]

Our workings, our wrestings
are knowings from ever.
Ours was the name, ours the sense
the fathers, mothers suffered.
Not in one of all the lives
was longing not along.
The generations brought us
this longing that wrought us.

(2) [Luke 1: 26-35]

A virgin longing
on beyond the ties and bonds
in all the shames and shadows.
Ever is longing on beyond all shame.
Ever in shadow comes the voice
no law has ever led:
‘Let me give you this I am.’
We carry through, we hand along
a felt, a heard,
a shadowing of longing.

(3) [Luke 9: 23-24]

We that the image falls to,
falls upon,
weighs upon –
we walk with it,
talk in its direction,
try to keep the measure
of the one we are becoming.
Every day we shove that shadow,
shove God’s shadow on ahead.

(4) [Mark 4: 30-32]

What’s in us is
a mustard seed,
of all our seed
the most invisible –
until the bird
discovers us
and roots us up.
We’re the ones whose branches,
whose leaves the birds of heaven fall
to earth to find:
shadow that they need.

(5) [Matthew 13: 3-7, 24-29]

Our image is a seed:
a trash along a roadside,
on gravel,
in thorns.
But once the seed is broken –
is opened! –
there is another in it.
An ugly one along,
a with us in becoming,
an also-comer in us, by us, through.

(6) [Mark 2: 1-12]

‘Am I bad, or am I mad?’
Which is lighter,
which more light?
The one we are becoming lights,
shows us through,
knows us through,
is us through whichever.

(7) [Luke 12: 49-53]

‘I come to bring not peace
but light.’
Clarity: you are the fire;
you’re also someone’s brother, someone’s
weak sister.
Faltering father, mute mother?
        that’s where you’re the fire.