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, March 21, 2011

Psalm Poems (139)

After Psalm 139

You’ve taken me on.
I wake, and my rising
stands in your knowing.
You follow my going
onto my streets and over,
out into your distances.
Where will my walk,
my circle end
except in your opening eye?
Wide enough’s your Eye
for all my ways.
Be ever so strange
the word that tries my lips:
you’ll be the sayer.
You wait me all around,
ahead, behind –
where do my fingers reach
but into deeper knowing
that is yours of me?
Where could I go
that wouldn’t bring together?
Ever our face is wider, meets
opener. If I could climb your heavens,
so would you.
If I preferred your hell
you’d wait in hell.
If I took the wings of morning,
flew the ocean – when I landed
it would be into your hand.
If I called down all your darkness
all my darkness
would be light to you:
my dark you never feared.
My innards hang within me
and within your knowing;
down in my mother’s belly
you began with me.
Was fear, was wonder yours
before it settled in my soul?
You’re implicated in my very under.
Deep within your earth the faults
become with me.
Gleaming in my bones
they are my lines and characters,
your mind’s to lighten them,
to see how you shall read them.
How can I tell you what they mean
to me – your thoughts by me?
I feel them all around me, more
than sands around the sea.
And when we both awaken
they’ll be there for us.

--Lloyd Haft