Tokubetsudesu #67 – Haiku – January 27, 2016



from the dust heap
he rescues an old straw hat
the woman shivers

walking alone
sporting an old straw hat
[sea gulls squawk]

© G.s.k. ‘16

wearing a fancy straw hat
mature rice

in dosso ‘na paglietta
riso maturo

© G.s.k. ‘16

(The above Italian haiku is actually a good deal different from its original and it couldn’t be any other way and here’s my explanation:   for convenience sake (well, mostly a problem of syllables) I used spauracchio (five syllables) which  is something that is used to scare and it can be a story or a physical object .. a spaventapasseri (scarecrow) is a spauracchio  but a spauracchio is not necessarily a spaventapasseri.  I wrote the second line in Neapolitan (Napolitano) which permitted me to hyphenate the article “una” (two syllables and in English “a” or “an”) and I used the word paglietta (three syllables) which was a particular sort of fancy straw hat used in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century .. I think it might be called a “boater” in English but I’m not sure (the hat in the illustration is simply  “un cappello di paglia”  or straw hat but at seven syllables far too long to use in a haiku) ( the line is seven syllables long) and finally  the a-ha line in Italian has a double meaning – riso in Italian is both rice and smile or laughter (so the haiku becomes mildly humorous).  Writing this I remembered how many times over the past couple of years I’ve read a Japanese haiku  referred to as “humorous” and I found nothing humorous at all in it.  I think maybe sometimes the humour gets lost in translation.  😉 )

Carpe Diem Tokubetsudesu #67 Van Gogh’s Shoes: Thingness in Haiku by Jim Kacian (an article about commodity)

But the consignment today is:

“In the above (see below) article Jim shares a haiku by Basho, which Basho wrote as a response on a challenge which he was asked for, a kind of bet so to say.

shichikei wa kiri ni kakurete mii no kane

seven views
hidden in the mist –
the (temple) bell of Mii

© Basho (Tr. Jim Kacian)

A nice one I would say, especially the idea of the challenge behind it, And that brings me to your challenge for this episode of Tokubetsudesu. In the haiku by Basho he describes the 8 views of Omi in just a few lines, and the painting by Van Gogh shows you how simplicity can work. That brings me to the following challenge:

Try to tell a story, like the haiku by Basho and using the simplicity of the description of the painting by Van Gogh, for a haiku … only a haiku!

I have given it a try too, but I don’t know for sure if I succeeded.

snowflakes fall gently
slowly the black earth becomes white
even the scarecrow

© Chèvrefeuille

The article written by Jim Kacian for:

Valley Voices: A Literary Review 8:1
Mississippi Valley State University
Spring 2008, pp. 60-61.

Reading this article is without a doubt a very interesting experience that can help the reader understand and interpret the philosophical/intellectual meaning of haiku.  The article is an interesting academic discussion on the philosophy behind the reading of haiku. In the first lines, after establishing haiku is not narrative he goes on to write:

“Haiku are not so much opposed to narrative as beyond it not telling tales, but encompassing them. Haiku have neither past nor future, and are not strictly narratable. As narrative fails, description takes over, bits and pieces obtrude. A description of bits and pieces is concerned with neither memory nor desire. It insists on the presence of that presented.

Of course bits and pieces may stir memory for an instant: they are signs. But they are never inclusive, and though selected, cannot aspire to conjuring the world whole in any individual poem. They are, instead, the meaningfully random, and only taken as a whole that is, the entirety of all haiku ever written does anything like comprehensiveness arise. The bits and pieces are not more than bits and pieces they will remain for the duration of the poem exactly what they already are. But in accumulation they approach fractally the sum of reality, of mind. As I’ve written elsewhere, haiku, the world’s shortest poetry, agglomerates to haiku, the world’s longest poem. Read enough haiku, then, and the world will work in that special sense that literature permits. …”

Lovely .. there’s much more to this article which you can find clicking the link above – it’s an article I’ll read again and think about, but which probably won’t be of any immediate help in writing haiku … I do like the idea though that understanding art is achieved by looking at art in its totality .. a short haiku is just a splinter in the wood carving of the complete production of haiku – a pair of painted work shoes just a brush-stroke on the canvas of life’s paintings and the sum total is the literary/artistic understanding of life’s narrative.


8 thoughts on “Tokubetsudesu #67 – Haiku – January 27, 2016

    • Maybe you’re referring to translating the Italian (?) but of course this applies to haiku in general. Basically there is a lot more behind a haiku than meets the eye. It seems that learning to read haiku is just as important as learning to write it. When you begin to know about season words, juxtaposition, subtle moods (wabi and sabi) and all that jazz .. you realize that haiku is really an amazing art form indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

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