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, March 1, 2011

from Atlantis 3 (poems)


(1)   Knoll: In Place of Elegy

Held together
and to haze over the meadows
by pain’s prick of oneness

we waver,
keep lips moving,
ask weeds what they were.

Like pierced hawks sewn to last light’s
cloud circle, seeking place to fall
tethered and back into the boulders’ rest

we stay unable to stop seeing
bent poppies, crumbling and cow parsley,
plants loose, even in name hapless,

that we had so much wanted
to call our mountain:
song standing, word one.


(2)   Hurt Big Bird

High fliers hurt – tallest maybe
nastiest when beak breaks,
gullet comes back cut.

Syllables their pain’s told in sound
stiff, rasp like tall gaunt
shrubs they grazed

weeping from wind’s fastness and
(nettle to eyes) sharp song rising:
smoke wrung of earth’s stunt.

When their blood drops touching what is
under it is not to mark, write,
prettify some wry stand of sumac,

help some dwarf thing shine.
They bleed because they could not help
finding: taking far things’ cry.

Not bewildered: hurt. Bright
is their knowledge of the drear they breathe:
sky from which, to which they fly.

--Lloyd Haft (from Atlantis, Querido 1993)