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 book, a liberal modern Dutch reading of Laozi's Daode jing, was published as Lau-tze's vele wegen by Synthese in September 2017.



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.



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. He sings in the choir of a Roman Catholic church of the Eastern Rite in The Hague.



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

from Atlantis 1 (poems)


(1)   Coffee on the Lawn

That the chair is white; that a cigarette
package is green is not my joy. Blues,
clouds heaving off-white,
skies are not my truth. What I remember
is shaped, holds as a garden.

There you came with cups and tray,
all my strength a tremor finding
place in your pulse. Like the magpie’s tail
your wrist moved as a rudder in silence,
ebbing me to where I dwell knowing.


(2)   Pledge

You opened wide your hands
and spread them linen-bright across
the wind-smooth table of your knees

the way thick bloodleaves of the maple
 place where even the dust reposes –
open their veins a net,
breeze-chimed hammock at the sun’s wayside.

Unlike that gold-fatigued old rover
I laid my face frank in your keeping
– rest, highwayless at last –
finding in your breath my pillow

as my palm rounded perfect to fit
your anklebone’s immeasurable coin.

--Lloyd Haft (from Atlantis, Querido 1993)