Haiku review: New Year dawn

In this post we review this haiku by Susumu Takiguchi:

winter rain…
wetting the sound
of the bugle
 

(Excerpted from The Works of Susumu Takiguchi, World Haiku Review, Jan 2014)

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Brijesh Raj

For me winter, rain and the bugle combine to bring up the Last Post, a farewell/remembrance piece dedicated to the brave military personnel martyred on the battle field.

They also evoke an image of their loved ones in black, standing tall… proud and teary eyed. Perhaps L2 is meant to convey the choked feeling they are bound to feel on such an occasion. L2 ensures a beautiful deepening of emotion and is a truly special juxtaposition in the context.

All in all a wonderful ku.

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Raamesh Gowri Raghavan

At first, this haiku appears as a very ‘so what’ shasei ku, simply a bugle sounding in the rain, purely a description. But as with all good haiku, the insight is always below the surface.

Look at the fragment: winter rain. What is so special about sounding a bugle in the winter? But think again: is it the literal winter (which it is on one level), or is there a metaphorical meaning that arises in the space between ‘winter’ and ‘bugle’?

In the phrase: the bugle sounding reminds one immediately of the last post (a haunting tune if one has ever heard it), an army sounding the passing of a veteran. Thus the bugle loops back to winter, and Death raises his ghastly cowl. So is it rain anymore, or is it now tears, the bugler tearfully bidding a fallen comrade farewell? Susumu leaves it unsaid, leaving the reader to complete the semi-circle.

In terms of phonic structure too,  this haiku is euphonous. The first line (win-ter rāīn, 2 short syllables and 1 long) resonates with the third (of-the-bu-gle, 4 short syllables) in a uniform beat, or taal as we say in Indian music theory. The middle is visually longer, but just four English syllables (wet-ting the sound), but applying my Indic music sensibility, the stress wet-ting and the sonorous so-und give me five beats, a nice contraposition to the lines 1 & 3.

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Paresh Tiwari

I have always been a fan of synesthesia and melancholy in poetry. As far as synesthesia goes, how can one be a poet and not really taste the scent of a rose or be able to touch the warmth of the colour yellow. There is something exceedingly romantic about it. And melancholy, well let’s just say, it stays by your bed like a trusted old friend. This haiku manages to get both bang on.

The one thing, this haiku doesn’t manage to get right however, is a clear distance between two images. Reading and re-reading the haiku, makes me wonder if there even are two images in this haiku. May be not. Then what are those ellipses doing at the end of the first line? Are they simply meant to allow the reader for a longer pause in a bid to provide him the much needed mindspace that would eventually lead the sense of hearing and touch blend together seamlessly.

I would like to believe so.

Do I think, a different fragment would have done more justice to the phrase? I doubt that. I believe despite of not having two clear cut images, this haiku could not really be bettered in a tangible manner.

Or should I wait, is the poet trying to tell us something else entirely with the ellipses. Is the deep chill of loss, brought to fore by that evocative winter rain meant to lead us into the pain (and may be the tears) of the bugler, and by extension the poet and the reader too?

A satisfying if a bit mystifying haiku. A verse that I would always like to come back to for it presents me with a delicious ambiguity.

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Sandra Martyres

a very evocative write. there is a certain finality associated with the sound of the bugle. It seems as if even nature aware of the solemnity of the situation is sending rain showers..

Brijesh this is a wonderful choice of haiku…

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Haiku review — Sunday afternoon

The haiku we choose to review this week is the following one by Johannes Manjrekar:

Sunday afternoon
the silence heavier
after the barking

Sandra Martyres:

In what is normally supposed to be a relaxed Sunday afternoon – the protagonist seems to be clearly uneasy. There are two possibilities here – either his dog’s incessant barking distracted him momentarily or a heated exchange with his spouse akin to barking left him more upset. 

In both situations, the silence that follows becomes even more stark when the noise stops…

Gautam Nadkarni:

Touching upon the technicalities, as I am wont to do, I note the tell tale words ‘afternoon’ and the word ‘barking’ [which implies the presence of a dog] — both terms being Summer kigo.

L2 says the silence is heavier, which means there was a heavy silence even before the barking started. Immediately the question arises: Why this heavy silence?

Could it be the silence which accompanies a Sunday afternoon nap? Could it be something deeper, a more serious reason? Then again, perhaps the poet persona is alone at home, with only a dog keeping guard at the doorstep or gate, and an intruder comes along to set off the barking.

And on a more morbid note, which cannot be dismissed — Could there be a mourning in progress? 

As can be seen, there is a lot more lateral space for interpretations than meets a less perceptive eye. A less perceptive reader would take only the interpretation most obvious to him and make a grandiose judgement. But for the more perceptive among the readers, there are a myriad nuances and meanings to be read and deciphered, nuances that enrich a haiku which would otherwise have been rendered insipid and shallow with a naïve ‘directness’ at best.

Raamesh Gowri Raghavan:

There are few things more precious than a Sunday afternoon. So to have your society-given license to laze shattered by the paranoia of a suspicious dog is doubly tragic. If you’re a pet owner, especially in a pet unfriendly neighbourhood, your dog barking his head off at a perceived slight to his dignity or security, is added pain. That it is also often comical, when your dog’s offender is a neighbour’s pajamas fluttering in the breeze, only as to the disquiet.

That I could read so much into Johannes’ piece must weigh as a tribute to him. I’m not quite sure he leaves a lot of lateral space, the barking and the silence stand in sharp contrast to each other, and the reclamation of the Sunday afternoon resonates.

Rohini Gupta:

When we were looking for a haiku to review with enough lateral space to give us room for interpretation, this one stood out.

Presumably, it is a silent Sunday afternoon, a peaceful and restful time of day, broken by loud barking. Was the poet dozing and interrupted by the barks? Perhaps. 

Is it the poet’s dog or is it a stray outside the window? No idea, but it leads to that lovely second line and the weight of the silence.

The simplicity of the haiku is appealing. Everyone has experienced silence after sound but it takes a poet’s sensitivity to describe it’s heavier quality.

A beautiful haiku with a meditative feel about it.

Brijesh Raj:

‘Heavier’; a three syllabic word that adds so much weight to a potentially banal Sunday siesta. Eyelids heavy with sleep? The silence after a crime witnessed by dogs alone?

A delicious lateral space to be coloured by the reader in the nuanced shades of his/her own life experiences. Not to mention the synaesthesia between sound and substance, used to describe the silence. All the tell-tale signs of a master at work.

What is the cause of the intrusion in the haijin’s consciousness? Only he can tell. But the imagery of a hot summer afternoon punctuated by disturbance serves up a good contrast, pivoting around the one word ‘heavier’ that makes the Ku so effective to me.