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 June 2019 he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of National Taiwan Normal University. 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, July 6, 2012

Two prayers from Where Is the Body...(poems)

(1)   In Place of Stone

Be it Thy light,
Lord, I falter in
when day, the long fright,
safely’s been.

When the leaves’ long fall
that I was here to see
is over, may they all
gather over me,

in Thy light shown
single as sun,
their many and mine done

over in one,
needer and known ungone,
together in dawn.

(2)   After This Manner

‘So be it’ – my only real prayer,
soundless and shapeless as what anguishes,
spoken only when the empty air
is all that’s left of all the languages –

not ‘Thy will be done’ but ‘will be done’ –
spoken not to man, woman, child,
only the many that’s the only one,
only fire, pyre on pyre piled.

Little in form as what consumes my form,
weak in words as I am weak in all,
nevertheless it raises one warm
breath to help a heaven not to fall –

mine or thine, or in whose ever hearing
there comes, even in smoke, this little clearing.

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