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).



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 most recent book of poems (in Dutch) is Deze poelen, deze geest (2008). 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 8, 2011

Psalm Poems (9-11)


(1) After Psalm 9

When I think of you
all other wars,
all other weapons fade.
Was ever fright here deeper
than your face? – that is
but is not seen.
What hands can touch and kill
is easy; harder
is to be the seen alone.
Hardest: to be never seen,
alone.

 

(2) After Psalm 10

Have I confounded you?
thought you out of sight?
Did my thoughts go too far?
Was my heart too warm for you
where it burned, raged,
wanted you only?
Did you think my heart
was glad when I said:
there is no One?
I had plenty thoughts,
time enough to think,
think you this,
deem you that,
damn.
Words like a drool
that lathered my lips.
Were you afraid when I was so afraid?
But all my thoughts were nothing,
are nothing, do
nothing!
Knower of fear am
I, not
you!
I that think you could not be!
Leave my thoughts beside me now
and see. Me. You.


(3) After Psalm 11

When the little bird senses
the dart on its way, he flies –
away! over the hill!
When I hear the snicker
of the heckler, I stay –
sheltered in the thought of you,
dead on the spot in the marksman’s eye,
deep in your eye alive.

--Lloyd Haft