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.



Friday, March 11, 2011

from Atlantis 4 (poems)


(1)   Flat Ground

On the plane established
for whitebeams and for names

this morning it is said to be May.
On the street called Beatrix

my soles suddenly encounter
clumpish, creped before all worlds,

one fallen crow:
big bright black dead bird.

Flannely leaves linger,
cling about the keening line of light
with the sweet open curling
of corn-meal-colored pajamas.

How can jackdaws die?
How hit pavement faster
than the morning shadow?


(2)   Creditor

‘To whisper your name is a kiss’
where my lips
shining clear in winter cold
open like a blossom

and the mantle of my members
rises, one hungering human
(golem of my long and living need),
stalks over day’s grubbed swath,

claims last word limber
as even now my bones:
and will the hazel come to hear
her name, the flake her destination?


(3)   On Re-Reading My Own Verses

What was this longing
to speak the thorn,
call into the valley of waiting
what prodding writes my blood?

Was never rose
drubbed in dayfall
fellow,
shadow enough?

No, for there must,
would be another
heard over hoofprints’
rain and straggle and sputter:

more than a me,
so that my flesh broke
welcoming,
took cut with glee.

Word was a bulk,
rock hereward burdening,
breaking to give river’s
glisten over lips pried wide.

Whose was this homeward heightening?
Fish knew, neared in passing,
flashed at such times with
rainbow fins my sharp lone yew

standing where water moved
solemn over stone.

--Lloyd Haft (from Atlantis, Querido 1993)