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.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Risen Rock (poem)

Risen Rock[1]

There is no other being than being other
-Carry van Bruggen

1. Viewing an errant boulder on the shore at Dai Kee, Taiwan, I see in it a human face.

Nearing the rock
at last I see its eyes,

seemingly an I’s,
more than of dust that lies,

spray that scatters.
Marker of the morning

where I see it now
it comes to light,

joins me in the going.

2. If the stone’s name is ‘errant,’ the stone is human...

nearing mine

above the sea
that never knew to say

but up and under,
up and ever down again.

Stone that earth refused –
earth that gave no ground,

showed no place of peace –
stone arising, weight along with me,

stay me here in light against the wind.
Be along in standing

never to dissolve,
never to resolve

into a wave among the waves.
Open as mine your eye,

open as one the other,
skull and stone one likeness.

Over the unbespoken and asunder,
out of the lightless wallowings

and echoings of ends,
out of the seething settlements

now here:
one seen.

3. ...and obstinate...

Not to save the stone –
I came to see it rise

where I arrive,
rising as I rise against the setting,

the lying of land’s end.
Leaving the very sea behind

to stand and sign and be:
that where we were denied we rise

in countersign and coming:
peer and counterpart.

4. ...and odd.

Stave or stela
staying in this light,

staying more than saying,
rather tall than told,

better with than worded,
rather along. Here beyond proscribing

I am seen in what I see:
over the dumb and boom and doom

of all the sea
and all that was surrounding.

5. The stone will never ask me what I am, or if I am.

Over I stand,
standing ever over.

Behold the stone:
housing not on land,

not in the word-enwalled stockade
but here in overstanding,

here in the not inhering
that is ours,

open that is own.
Standing out against the wind:

here against the setting sun,
here against all setting.

6. Blessed are they that stand.

So be I ever, seeming
in a distance that is near,

and yet a part,

touching on whatever
is to touch

and now is near,
with in waiting,

waiting in the wind
for more of wind.

--Lloyd Haft
October 2015

[1] This is my English version of a poem I originally published in Dutch in De gids 2011: 4.
For Katie Su’s Chinese version, see