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 (8-15)

by Lloyd Haft

(8) [Matthew 16: 13-19; John 2: 14-21]

Who shall we say it is
we are becoming?
a witness only?
reborn only,
living again the life a dead one did?
Can flesh and blood believe they are
the longed-for, the awaited?

And after all the years the temple’s waited –
who could see the body
standing here and resurrected
that sold itself so long,
paraded here in hoofs and pigeon wings?

(9) [Luke 10: 17-20; Matthew 18: 12-14]

Better than scaring devils out of heaven,
stronger than stamping poison bugs to earth
is knowing our becoming,
even if it’s devils,
beetles we’ve become.

Slowly as the ugliest
of what’s along with us
we go.
Nothing stays beyond us
where the mountain’s under us.

(10) [Mark 10: 32-34]

Ever going, bound for the city of peace, comes
the human, the child.
Threading the way through chasers,
following and faulting from behind.
They’d put the child behind them,
make it tarry, talk.
They’d love to see this baby dead.

(11) [Matthew 21: 23-27]

Ever the heckler’s question –
out of whom, and in whose name
the one we are is coming?
(Every answer asks again.)
When those who went before us stood
between the waves and prophesied
the child was yet to come –
did heaven hear their hope?
did earth?
And yet the hope,
the flow comes on.

(12) [Matthew 23: 37-39]

Not in the heavy shadows
of a peace that cannot waken
comes the one we are becoming.
We come in longing’s name –
the only one that still will sound
where all the walls are gone.

(13) [Matthew 26: 26-29; I Corinthians 11: 26]

The one we are becoming
takes us, holds us up
and broken as we are,
feeds us through all falling,
all becoming:
all of this is body.
One becoming breathes with us,
brimming, breaking over
into heart on heart that cups the blood,
eye on eye that sees,
knows the one becoming.

(14) [Matthew 16:21]

Joined, bound to know,
to carry and to bear.
Held to the death that brings together
into the wider knowing we become.

(15) [Matthew 27: 51-53]

Out of the graves we stride wherever
the veil of the holy of holies
no longer holds –
no longer holds together.
It is together or it is no hold.
Together where they told us we were dead.
Where the one becoming breathes with us,
leaves the sky behind
and falls to us, arisers
in the richer, deeper vault,
our widening, our Now.