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, April 12, 2013

Zhou Mengdie 周夢蝶 : Two Poems

(1) Thorn Blossoms 荊棘花[1]

They were supposed to blossom on Jesus’ head
but they blossomed here.

Wherever they blossom they’re in twos:
desolately flashing that Radiance of the Other.
Is it the blood in the eyes
of a willing martyr?

Blood is contagious:
where it’s reddened, wherever someone’s
warmed and reddened for, against another,
this radiance of tears
that hovered lonely in the sky
will finally come gushing, shed
for all the endless longing under Heaven

till someday the longing eyes
be caught up in each other; till
Heaven’s and what’s under Heaven’s
keeping their distance
mutually end up mutual:
and what was water-born
be water-minded.

(2) Wild Geese II 雁之二[2]

Human human human

Singly or in pairs, forming lines or not
at the heart of the river, the end of the sky
when the autumn wind arises:
however lean and long the autumn wind is
that’s how lean and long your shadow is.

Are you writing words in the air, or
are words in the air writing you?

Human human human –
When endeth the same? only if
(moans the autumn wind in the highest heights of height)
only if the river’s flow reverses, goes back West:
and when will the river’s flow go West?
Ay! only if you can write the human human to the full.

--Translated by Lloyd Haft

[1] Original in Zhou Mengdie, Shisanduo bai juhua 十三朵白菊花, Taipei: Hongfan 洪範, 2002, pp. 80-81.
[2] Original in Zhou Mengdie, Yuehui 約會, Taipei: Jiuge 九歌, 2002, pp. 131-132.