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.

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.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Poems by Herman Gorter (Part 3)

[This is my English adaptation of the second of three long ‘parts’ or books comprised in Gorter’s Liedjes, first published posthumously in 1930. For technical reasons, I am posting this before the first and third books. The numbers in square brackets before each poem refer to the page numbers in the Dutch original as reprinted in 1981 by Uitgeverij de Arbeiderspers.
Two earlier postings, both under the October 2013 archive of this blog, have contained translations of Gorter’s highly experimental, often erotic Verses. The Liedjes represent his supreme effort to combine the love for a woman with the love for humanity as he conceived it in his Socialist and Communist political ideals. Here, the beautiful woman, the ‘Lady’ or ‘Maiden,’ stands both for herself and for the ‘new humankind’ whom Gorter hoped the Revolution would bring into being.[1] – L.H.]

from Lyrics (Liedjes)
by Herman Gorter (1864-1927)

edited and translated by Lloyd Haft




Light of all the All!
Once you came here living,
seeking, quivering,
tall and slender skimming,
pearl of crystal,
out of all unsureness
to the shore dividing
and unknowing.

And you lived, swaying
whichever way the inner would,
beauty-feathered reed, bending
into every wind.
Beautifully high, inclined
to Love!
Inclined to love,
to love as crystal!

Light! clear
light! in which the human clears,
in which I slake my thirst
o Mistress.


And now you slowly
come to know,
through strife,
yourself the Light of all of All!
Softly shine your crystal eyes
in which are all the brightnesses
of water and of light:
the way to your heart
a valley,
a woe of clarity.

Someday you’ll be one
with all of All,
your golden limbs extending
through all knowledges,
all shores...

Light! clear
light! in you humanity,
in you I slake my thirst
o Mistress.


O endless golden
spirit radiant,
it’s you we love.


Rejoice on earth! Rejoice!
Lift heavenwards your mouths
grown up to one in joy
for Love is found.



Over the white ice
in the sun’s golden shine
between the green of trees,
over that dark spring,
gliding through that palace
is the Music of Dreams.


Over the white ice
in the sun’s golden shine
between the green of trees,
gliding through that unseen
palace is the Source of Dreams:
the Music.


Silent we stand, two gulls
on the ice –
around us nothing stirring:
the palace of the world.


Up from the source
through fire
to the sun.


A snowy hill
white as a gull
blue and bold
in the pure gold.


A snowy hill
white as a gull
dizzily bright
with sparkling light.


The sea one blue meadow,
grassless, greenpale,
and one white wave – a flowering
in wideness without end.


Close by the sea
in the high dunes
a stream arises –
gentle is that tract
gently slanting,
full of flower is that clime.


I see you from afar,
image writ in stars
of naught but love.


Like a bird
through the pearling light
I soar through the height,
the light of the world.


Great the white gull goes
in freedom bred,
wings fine as snow
in wideness spread.


White as snow
a gull goes
flying where the sea
and the blue cease.


As the dove
soars in the light –
so I soar in the light
of love.


Even the finest crystal,
finest atom, seem –
stuff that All’s built of –
by light of beauty, love’s dream.


In the blue water
a strand of silver sand:
on this blond coast
the gulls come to rest.


of sea, blue land
with no end,
never enhemmed,
source beshone
by stars alone.


Over the wave-rich sea
goes the lonesome wind
till he can find
another kingdom, wider, new, free.


she nears
and the rest disappears,
fading before her appearance
veined through with silence
in air


You near,
veined through with silence
now, Beloved
in clouds of fire and blood...
all one love.


O Golden Spirit
of freedom –
now I’m coming,
thrusting ever clearer, whiter, golder
into Joy, your golden body.



And wordlessly I feel myself
becoming one with her – in common
that was long in coming.


That deep far beaming
by night and by light – translating
All of the All into feeling:
blessed she, face upward,
from foot on up to visage getting
me, as after endlessless of veering
I pour myself into my net –
of Light.


The Spirit of Music
came down and lay
as a soul all of crystal
under blue day.


Like a lightcrystal feather,
a crystalline soul
here in the blue weather
of harmony, All in the All.


On her back she lay
backward gazing
into herself. Into joy.


My Beloved
as water pure
came into the fire
of love.


The glistening fount
became the sky,
the gentle sun.


In downy repose
she naked lay;
her thought arose
like a bloom in the sky.


Soft as a velvet
was her gaze
of joy.


‘My thoughts...
Where have they gone?
gold and white beyond all bourne,
tender, full of love, disrobed...

when love came into me
my Love
I welled

But what is that in there?
What is within?
How could I know. The peace my soul is in
is all of light

and what I see
is naught but light,
naught but love,
the light is my beloved.’


all her body still,
in her averted gaze the firm,
the gentle moment’s will.


She lay supine,
her head full high,
and on her eyes, unopened, glinted
gladness given.


The radiant Maiden
bright as if in dawning
from the deepest fount
grew golden in the light of sun.


The all-radiant
pearl of all the years
grew heaven-white and gold
with her Beloved.


The all-radiant
that the years had seen
in water, mountain, wood –
became white light of Love.


Deep into the fount
the sun finally fell.
And the fount
rose to heaven.


In my arms
the luminous fount
turned to heaven.
I saw her face swimming
with heaven all around it,
saw her spirit swimming
in heaven.


Out of the dark of earth
arises light –
all of All suspended in the light
of love.

[1] My post ‘Poems by Herman Gorter (Part 1),’ in the October 2013 archive, includs a brief introduction. For a good overall introduction to Gorter’s life and work by Paul Vincent, see

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Waterwegen (twee gedichten)


Daar stroomt het:
waar kolk naar kolk,

wiel naar wiel doorwil,
leeg in leeg doorlengt,

lus aan lus reikt,
oor naar oor open, door-

zwijgend horend.


Van kolk naar kolk beschrijft de stroom,
laat de lijnen komen

die ontbindende verbinden,
wissende doen weten:

waar het komt
daar zal ik zien,

waar het klinkt
daar zal ik zingen:

ademend beamende
van oog tot oog.

--Lloyd Haft