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.



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.