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 24, 2011

Poems from Formosa 1

(1)   Near Amersfoort

Wherever we walked –
wasn’t it a bridge?
Didn’t we see gates, tall
stones opening,

rising before us?
Water risen to wave,
streets risen in widening sun,
goldening stones

opening into the wind –
together we saw.
There we were carried,
there we were borne

over. Gates: we saw them,
saw them here and risen,
saw them go before us
over the stone, the flow.


(1)   Cherry Blossom, Plum Blossom
for Fou Wei-sin

Like roofs of human houses
patterning sky,
writing over emptiness,
suddenly the trees

branch out flowering where nothing was.
Plum of the East, cherry
from over the ocean – how do they know
to warm with us here?

How in the dusk of winter show
bright petals, bring
fingers of light through?
You point, want me to see

the ways: how cherry
rising grows and plum across, both
reaching. Yes, but they won’t:
only we reach.

When you drive me to
the station I will reach you
a hand and be gone:
gone as the cold from the trees.

--Lloyd Haft (from Formosa, Querido 2005)