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.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Poems from the River Way (from Where Is the Body...)


The river joined us in its overtones,
woven in what we heard but could not hold,
sharing it only as the river stones
darkening let it further. We are told

in light that sings above remembrances,
gleaming over what white salt hands
opened to reach after. Land sense is
lost but the overgiven understands.

Only the over stays. It is a hearing
more than any form, song of assent
ever, ever again new nearing
of yes, yes as we were, and as we went –

home in the only lived and only known,
the light, warmer than winter-whited bone.


Hard to believe the deepening toward sunset
is deeper light. But here we met: a room
windowed in and to ourselves: here, yet
open on a river. And through all gloom

of ending day a ripple, glimmer came
of where we were, what that water was:
seen in leaving’s darker-sounding name,
deeper its flowing on was in, to us.

Waves rise but it is to us they fall,
falling into view that all is love.
We are the seeing where we are at all,
seeing that all love’s believing of:

love that is believe, as I believe
river is ever, light we’ll never leave.

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