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.



Sunday, July 17, 2011

Paintings by Joseph Yen 1 (poems from Formosa)


(1)   Autumn River in Moonlight

In later light
(that is the only light)
we see above the river
what hid so long within:

fin, claw risen,
eye that opened wide above
the reds and roofs,
over the clay and tin

our warmth was never in,
warmth we tried to gather
from the sun whose day was shorter
than our ever-going river,

river that we always said
would end in light. But what,
what is the light of ever?
What is the color of risen?

gleam of a gill,
cry of a gullet
when Eye the ever-famisher
is fed and at last filled?

What but the form of our hunger
rises, is our light?
Over the rock and the river
hunger, hunger is.


(2)   Dwellings by a Giant Rock

The hand that rises here in stone –
the over and above –
is it the rock’s own,
rising over the river

in green we see but seldom
say – so over,
so other than the river,
shaped as the living

but over and on, reaching
where we seek but seldom
say? Is it ours? reaching from our little
slope of roof and bone, our little

shadow where we come to live, beating
our heart against the mountain
till a light is seen,
a hand is given?

--Lloyd Haft (from Formosa, Querido 2005)