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.



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Live Bird Verses 1 (poems from Where Is the Body...)

(1)   No Bird Known

End of day. Across the hundred yards
I still can see, there is a single bird
appearing. Overliver of the herd,
sole survivor of those louds and hards

that own the earth, now scrying heavenwards?
Or is it – wing and dusk so closer blurred
at last they have no name, there is no word
for him among the darkened men and marreds –

a dove, his white no longer to be told
from crow-clothing, here now no better
than grain-grabber, canny late baptizer

come and among our done and beaten fold
not for to help but know – greediest getter,
through seer, no mere riser?


(2)   Bird Trying to Land

See how the place he tries to set his claw
and stand is never the ripe fruit-clotted
sodden under bough, but in the flaw,
barren branch and open, nothing-knotted,

twisted to the weight of nothing seen,
bent as if supporting from below
the heaviness of heaven, where the green
leaf, here for the falling, will not go.

His wings, bent as a branch but of no tree,
bearing the eyes that will be his only seed,
arch above him, brows of the widening see
that calls him back in its ever greatening need.

O, but the branch of after! How it stays
quivering, waiting, waking both the ways!

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