"an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Haiku challenge

Ok, now for something completely different!
Do you like poetry? From limerick to ballad, sonnet to clerihew, ode to rondel, there's an amazing variety of style and topic to choose from. In school we had to memorise poetry, get up in front of the class and recite! Not one of my favourite exercises, and this was what probably put me off this genre for many years! I vividly remember getting stuck on "Barbarossa" and classmates furiously  (and rather loudly) whispering the next line... I did like hearing the cadence of poetry, especially the ballads. One of my favourites was Goethe's "Erlkoenig", and its haunting words can still stir me.
More recently, I've become interested in Haiku, a Japanese form of poetry. Now, I'm usually not in favour of things Japanese (my personal boycott because of whaling), but being somewhat of a language geek, I like the pared-back simplicity of haiku. According to a rather gorgeous book I found recently (Haiku Inspirations by T. Lowenstein), haiku was established as a form of poetry many centuries ago. It is however, not the history but the form that interests me. Lowenstein describes a classic haiku as "three lines long, made up of 5-7-5 syllables. It contains a kigo word....alluding directly to a season....and a kireji (cutting word), placed at the end of any of the lines ...denoting a pause or full stop - their presence implies a moment to reflect on the preceding lines".
An example - a haiku by Basho -
                                                   Temple bells die out.
                                                   The fragrant blossoms remain.
                                                   A perfect evening.
Obviously, something is lost in the translation, but you get the idea. There are several websites on the net for haiku aficionados, with many of them not conforming to 'rules' which is ok. They can be humerous, witty, sad, joyous, philosophical, but they get the message across in 17 syllables!
So, dear ones, I propose a haiku challenge - everybody can write poetry! Send me your haiku!
I'll start off with one of mine -
                                                 Antares rising.
                                                 A diamond on black velvet,
                                                 in icy splendor.


  1. Perhaps not quite so sophisticated but here is my contribution:
    Sapphire blue, frost rimmed,
    Penetrating soul and heart,
    The eyes of my cat.

  2. Nice!! Don't you find that some words have 'power'?! Like Sapphire.
    Keep 'em coming!