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 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.

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.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Poems by Herman Gorter (Part 4)

[This is my English adaptation of the first of three long ‘parts’ or books comprised in Gorter’s Liedjes, first published posthumously in 1930. For technical reasons, the second book appeared earlier; it can be found directly following this post or in the December 2013 archive. 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




Unto me came shining
a Lady in the all of All –
tender as crystal,
image of a new humankind.


And her I loved with deepest love,
gently and with her I danced
in sight of all the deep All’s glance
and she became my highest Love.


And her I loved with deepest love,
gently and with her I danced
through all the deep and high All’s glance
and she became my only Love.


Sweet the unseen sound of distant strings
of light, dream-like glancings –
and while we’re dancing
under us we see a One – our limbs.

Your bosom and that softer something
over you and under streaming –
is it Love? an almost nothing
everywhere, and you it’s dreaming,

and the reed-like of your body, gowned
in waving dancing, up and down –
that’s the only thing
that dances:
for me, it is that dance
and music – nothing else exists.

And in a wistful singleness
of joy in dancing motion
the spirits, sensing happiness
so near, join in devotion.

Dance is love’s portal. Dance is holy.
Dancing is tender adoring.
To dance with you, so safely gliding –
every sense at peace, in you abiding.


Love, star in the night –
shine my heart through
that the thwart-shadowed world
be lighted too.


It’s winter
far above the earth,
ice clearing,
stars like cinders.
It’s lonely but a music’s here.
O lonely music, be my guide:
beauty, let your wing not veer
but lead me farther, wider.


Love, star in the night –
shine my heart through
that the thwart-shadowed world
be lighted too.


The sea is lilywhite,
the sea is lilygreen,
bluegreen is her mirroring,
every sound her whispering.


In the sun
mirrored in the sea,
in the source
swinging in the moon,
in the dawn
in the dark
what I see is you,


See how she’s there
in her tender limbs,
in stillness, see:
beholding her beauty.


I was present at your womb,
my head nearby your bosom,
and your knee was there, full blossom
of your tenderness.


You can’t know what to me
your breath, your lips are:
as if through darkness
dawn found a way.


When I think of love
it’s love I love.
And it’s love for you, my Love,
that brought me here above.



Never leave me, Love,
you are all I have.
You are the flood;
I am the ebb.


Nights, Beloved, I hold fast
your image with my eyes
as the seaman holds the mast
lest he go under.
But then it is I do go under, Love,
with your image in the dark of love.


That you should love me
could not be.
But you to me are lief,
believe – o nothing but believe!


After the deepest love
the heart is weak,
nearly believing in,
truly dying in – the Beloved.


Let me approach you tenderly,
beautiful spirit of new Music,
as my Father and my Mother,
having nothing but you only.


Gently you commence again, to dance
with me, gentle as Mother,
Spirit of Music –
all of All’s bright glance
from you arising
while I’m dying
in your shadow of delight.


And all of All becomes for me one Beauty.
Dying in it I live: within Your Beauty.


And all of All becomes one Light around me.
I hover silent by your brow.


Beloved! a bright dance
here: light of step
in March light still sparse
by the many-colored ponds
with each other enarmed
in the colors, warm,
purple, green,
bursting with sheen

that we’re together in:
naked flames twin.


Beloved, great is the dance
far, far from the earth –
far beyond the Shore
of Stars, beyond the stellar barrier.


Love, it’s a deep
dance together through the night
meshed in each other –
dance from which neither
awakens: light
as of death holds us tight.


When you dance, it’s a rose
dancing, a greeny shrub of red roses:
joyful dance is what they freely chose!
You dance in breathings, scents and blushes all
your own – that your downy poll
in wizardry arisen is
the fairest blossom over.


All the rest fades
where you dance into day.


Your soft-blushing poll
in its hair-tangled toss
is the bud of a rose
peeping from moss.


Wondrous of beauty, a girl
is dancing, keeping her robe of blue
above the ground of the earth,
thinking a song: it’s new,
her mouth dreaming
in the blue of the heavenly.
She dances by beauty’s shore,
deep before her
billows cloud by cloud
out of the round about her knees
booming surf, gentle hem –
upon her breast
it rests, a blossom
never before in sight,
a peach-red bloom, her lineaments
above it lightfulfilled.
Without a thought
she dances by beauty’s shore
lost to herself
in light, the
of the sun.
She’s going, o!
in the source
of the sun.


she nears
and all else disappears
fading before her appearance
veined through with silence
in air



Her oval head
as the fruit,
her eyes sending
song to the beloved,
her bosom
an arching blossom,
her feet tender,
the bride
pokes them into night
and waits.


Her eyes appear
as flames. We speak
in what so softly warms:
her arms.


Heavenly high
star, someday I
will be one ray of you. In flames of kisses
rising in you: a single shine
of beauty and of light.
Over all the earth
alight with love,
with you astir
unto eternity.


A calling comes from seaward, soft, unworded,
as if she’s come. Or if I’ll come to her.


As if an endless longing blows
along the dunes – gleaming gold
along the dunes.


Far Bride,
gentle beauty Bride –
out of the bournless
your face pearls
through this world.


Pearling in your eye
is all the world –
every figure, every tint.
Sky. Sea. Spirit.


that the drift eternal
hot or cool
is driving to.


Longing –
that the womb always
farther, higher from


depth without end,
farther even
than ever the longing gets.


Deep in your body I am,
in your soul:
endless whole.


Glorious body,
endless soul
surrounding me.


Gone into you
and with you one,
so high and hale,
heart in a phase
returns into
oneself its gaze.


But you are whole.
Your majesty
illumines all.
In you I be.




Her eyes
sending light.


To rise disappearing
into her high
that no name knows.


In her golden Light,
her golden Mind,
my mind.


A golden world
in which my mind’s a pearl.


Now I’ve been immersed
in your golden body’s fathoms –
shining as a pearl
within your golden Mind my mind.


The inner you
is now the outer me.



The inner you
is now the outer me.


Like a reservoir
in which a star
is shining,
gently, from afar.


Like the glance
of a star
on a lake:
her dance.


in daybreak.


of grace,
of love –


High in you,
deep in you.
Around me is no day or night.
Around me is a single light.


A single light! You around me, I’m in you,
Spirit of the Future Music.
It’s out of the All, out of Humanity you now descend:
the widest wings.
You surround me, I’m in you.


You are beauty. Gazing within you,
winning over me, I see –
you, beauty moving, living
in what’s now being.
You are in me, I am in you.
Spirit of Music! I am in you,
you’ve opened you for me.


It is not true that this is sunlight.
This is you.
This is not the wind that blues
across the water:
that is not so gentle:
this is you.
This is not the earth and not the heavens –
so beautiful they’re not.
This is you.


O blossoming sunlight,
blossoming water!
Unending thirst
that’s love’s flowering!
To the showering sound
of white sourcelight
my Love lies
on my breast.


It’s when I peer
into your eyes, my Love,
I see the mystery clear
that’s Love.


Won over!
Love’s sun
striding bright before me –
won over!
Love’s source
guiding me along her crystal course.


It’s said the absolute of Love’s
a super-human quandary –
and yet my love for you, Spirit
of Music, knows no boundary.

[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