In this post we review this haiku by Susumu Takiguchi:
wetting the sound
of the bugle
(Excerpted from The Works of Susumu Takiguchi, World Haiku Review, Jan 2014)
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.
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.
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.
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…