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.



Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dead Bird Verses 2 (poems from Where Is the Body...)


(1)   Heavy Hawk

That he has been in light binds him
home to the circle, ever aloft and going
wherever a dawn’s faint ray finds him,
held to his height, orbiting his knowing

as so many rivers under his straining quills,
so many fading shells lying broken
over the valley that his shadow fills,
every break one breath’s token.

How could he fall, and leave the glint behind
that singed his feathers into spreading wider,
waiting harder, lone enough to find
home in what finally lifts the truth-rider

out of the wind and into farther birth,
tracing a coming ring around the earth?


(2)   Dead Thrush 2

Now every morning, since the time I found
a thrush dead by dawn, day-broken,
lying beside my window man-bound,
downed before his warm word was spoken –

now every day at dawn I look to see
if I can find another – if there come
a brother breathing out and down for me,
saying it nearly: friend, so close and dumb.

Is it an end they come to me to find?
Or is my eye an opening, a ring
through to a heaven, giving out of wind
and into quiet’s wider beginning?

I’d rather see them dead than not at all:
brothers that tried, tried to more than fall.

--Lloyd Haft (from Where Is the Body That Will Hold?, 1998)