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.



Thursday, February 24, 2011

from Atlantis 2 (poems)


(1)   On the Way

Isn’t it true I tried?
Didn’t my fingers burn with sun
even inside the window,

even beside my flat face
merging with the glass from long looking?
That the train keeps moving is
cliché, tracks rusting etcetera.
Those I know. What I have never known

is how to sing with the weeds even
after they pass, right on the pane

take on what’s left of light:
one big dried smashed still-gold flower
matching my face for wideness.


(2)   Terrace Lunch

Upon my very lips the hornet
wanders, seeking sweetish crumbs
in what the sun has baked of blood.
With my hump of bread
at terrace tabletop, I represent the loaves
and fishes of one lone.

Dry, certain her tread
on what so red can still be traced
in silence’s environ,
sweeping tail and talon soft
across the two where all my truth issues.

Beast, help me. Hunger with this man
who hopes and whispers in an offal wind:
flesh fades on blueing grains
of what I needing leave behind. Seek:
bite, but keep me coming red.


(3)   When I Sent You Off

You looked at the fountain, saying
I was most myself where spray leaping
tried to merge with sky and failed,

where the rising arc nearly fitted
into such terribly descending
reds and bones, old stiff-standing rainbow

our ancestors worshipped as promise,
patter, anything but dead water
falling in place, painting my white beer

brown and your tea subtle.
We were waiting and knew it, watching
passersby under the same plane trees

my forebears had no name for even.
I was about to bring you away,
wish you away like wishing

spatters at least might hit, stain somewhere
skies, seekers.

--Lloyd Haft (from Atlantis, Querido 1993)