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.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

In memoriam Li Shenquan (poems)

'Blest Are They That Stay...'
in memoriam Li Shenquan


'Blest are they that stay.'
So the trees would say:

see how the tallest longest of them
leafless at the end

receive the good,
reap the golden traces

of the longest-setting sun.
What we say is other: say

young, stay young.
'Later comers longer last' -

and what is last?
Ask it not of us who waver,

ask it of the wind.


No one writes them in.
Wind it is that blows,
blights them in:

pine's dark green,
bough's down bend.
Wind it is that makes,

takes: breath that comes
and in it was,
out it is

quicker than the light
that came and was,
quickly ending as the twig it wrung.


What you see of the wind that was
is the tree
that it gutted,

like every form an after:
trace of a could,
wreck of a would -

stump where the winged of a moment
glowed and did not stay.

--Lloyd Haft (for Dutch version and painting by Li Shenquan, see the post 'Li Shenquan 李神泉 in memoriam (gedichten)' with label 'NieuweGedichten', in the February 2011 archive)