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 18, 2011

Psalm Poems (97-100)


(1) After Psalm 97

Joy will be the earth’s when,
if you come.
And if you come with clouds about you,
still you come. Beyond our hearing
almost is your name, with all the fire,
all the swords that came before you here.
And yet we’ve heard of you.
A flash has broken through the earth to us:
of you. It had to do with longing:
that you were not contented
with your height: you longed for us:
for even me you longed,
your joy was stronger even than my fear.
A flash, a joy
has been enkindled here:
my little lamp of thankfulness
to light your way through darkness
if you come.



(2) After Psalm 98

What could I say that would be new for you?
if ever I really knew of you, I’d be.
What’s an earth, an ocean?
What are the rivers, serpent-like
arising from their beds and falling back?
What is a mountain rising into snow,
melting again in wind?
Not water, not stone –
I would be the new thing
if I knew of you.



(3) After Psalm 99

Where you rest on high’s
too high for me to see.
It’s here in print I see your name
and read aloud: say he.
Higher than I can read they say
you seemed to your seekers –
your Moseses, your Aarons.
They wrote us,
wrought us what you seemed to say
on high, high on a mountain
in a cloud of do’s and don’ts.
That they said was you.



(4) After Psalm 100

Look for Whose face where joy is:
wherever, whenever you can sing –
there are the eyes
that open as the heart,
as gates,
as portals almost opening
from here.

--Lloyd Haft