alskuefhaih
asoiefh

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Autumn haiku

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how many times you try
to land right
but you forget the wind

    ~

my mother's mind
a leaf in the air
blowing away

    ~

a leaf stem
held by a wet stair
allowing the leaf to watch below
like a turkey vulture

    ~

a floating petal
caught on a spider's shaft
a crane stutters overhead

    ~

caught in his arms
late in life
she said, I do


Have you tried haiku? Though the strict form is 5-7-5, meaning five syllables on the first line, then 7 on the second and 5 on the third (a syllable is on in Japanese) modern haiku is less structured. Haiku in Japanese means "playful verse". The most important elements in haiku traditionally are the kigo, or season word (such as frog, which indicates spring) and the kireji, which is the cutting word. The cutting word, which comes somewhere in the middle, creates the playfulness between the first part and the second, maybe a tension or a revelation. Also, the poem should invoke images, which is what Robert at The Solitary Walker did in his poem "aeolian"-- very imagistic and haiku-esque, as in this couplet: 

     black crows strut on black earth
     tricking the eye

Thank you, Robert, for the inspiration. I was writing haiku in my mind all the way to work after reading that poem. It's nice that your treks inform your inner journey, something I've enjoyed from George at Transit Notes and Lorenzo at The Alchemist's Pillow as well.

Good haiku is not easy, I think. I like going back to the "old" haiku poets for studying their skill at capturing so much in just a few words and sounds, like Basho:


An old silent pond...
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.

~ Basho (1644-1694)

. . . or Soseki:

Over the wintry
forest, winds howl in rage
with no leaves to blow.

~ Soseki (1275-1351)


For more inspiration, a nice site for modern haiku is modernhaiku.org.

Reading or writing haiku is an illuminating way to meditate.



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57 comments:

Lorenzo said...

A lovely haiku rendering of the story you tell in the two photos. In their lightness and suggestiveness, the haiku stanzas seem to go so well with the wandering beauty of a falling leaf. I feel like the frog in the silent pond as I haven't done a haiku in ages. Perhaps your beautiful 'playful verse' will get me started again.

Lorenzo said...

Forgot to add, thanks for the mention!

The Solitary Walker said...

I like your haiku, Ruth - especially the last one, and I'm glad my own imagistic poem inspired you!

I agree - it may appear easy at first sight, but actually it's very difficult to write a good haiku. The Basho one you quote is a paradigm of perfection, and probably can not be bettered.

I quoted this one - written by a local Lincolnshire poet - on my blog a while back: 'Spire and crescent moon / So close in this autumn sky / They form one ikon' - which, on reflection, has all the classical Japanese elements you mention.

Thanks for the link!

Ruth said...

Thank you, Lorenzo. You are welcome, and deserving. I don't think I've seen a haiku of yours, or maybe something in an early post at The Alchemist's Pillow.

I was thinking of your poetry also when I wrote these (I had you, and George, and Terresa, and Steven, and others besides Robert, thinking how differently we would all do these). About you, I imagined your humor . . .

Ruth said...

Robert, thanks, I'm glad you like these. Yes, I like the last one the best too, and that's why I posted it last. :)

I can envision the scene in that Lincolnshire poet's haiku. Lovely, isn't it?

You are welcome. Thank you again for the inspirational poems you have been posting.

George said...

What a lovely post, Ruth. I loved all of the poems, especially yours. I also love the spare form of haiku; it fits well with my larger philosophy that less is more. Thanks for the link, and rest assured that I will be returning with a new post very soon.

Pat said...

Thanks for making me smile this morning. I love your poems, and your photos to go along with them. :)

Dan Gurney said...

I love haiku also. I particular enjoyed the first two. For me I go in little bursts of haiku energy when they just flow. I'm between bursts now.

Char said...

i love traditional haiku like you have here - too often people forget the aspects of nature and the juxtaposition.

the bird lands above
the fallen leaves crumpled brown
autumn wind chills me

(sorry - had to try, yours are prettier)

ellen abbott said...

I like haiku. They are so evocative when done right. I've played at writing them in my head but never written any down. Enjoyed this post.

Cait O'Connor said...

Your photos are exquisite as are your haiku. Thanks for the info too and the suggestion for experimenting with it as an aid to meditation.

Meri said...

The one about your mother's mind is haunting. I love "caught in his arms" because it's so hopeful.

ds said...

Beautiful. I don't know where to begin. Thank you for the explanation of true haiku, as I learned only the syllabic part. Big difference, for you have taught me not only how to write haiku (should I dare) but also how to read it. Which is much more important.
I agree about the meditation. Perhaps poetry (of any sort) is meditation set to word (must, ahem, meditate on that. Not facaetious!).
I love Basho's frog; I love your mother's leaf. I love "caught on a spider's staff." I love the last entire.
I love this post. Thank you.
Guess I figured out how to start :S

Margaret Bednar said...

Thank you for the lesson. I am slowly learning to understand will have to discuss with my son who holds my hand along the "poetry trail". Each one is beautiful. Btw, my son has his own blog now and has posted one he wrote last year after seeing a performance of Snow White and he "fell in love" upon first glance with the girl playing the lead. He was told by friends after, and found out later, that she wasn't the nicest or brightest. His blog is songsforanewmillennium.blogspot. He came home for the weekend and he loved your son's band and we are running out to buy an i-tunes card for both of us. Your son is in a wonderful band!

Ruth said...

Thank you, George, it really pleases me that you love my haiku, especially.

I'm extremely glad to hear you will be posting something soon. The old adage Absence makes the heart grow fonder is true in this case, though I wouldn't have thought it possible.

Ruth said...

Pat, you make me smile so often that I'm tickled to be able to return the favor!

Ruth said...

Thank you, Dan. It is fun to connect through these things, and I see you are back in a haiku burst with that vapor post. Glorious!

Ruth said...

Char, I was hoping someone would post haiku responses here, and you rose to my hopes! Thank you for yours, which honors the traditions very well.

Ruth said...

Ellen, I think that writing them in our heads, which is what I was doing while driving Friday after reading Robert's poem, is valuable for its meditative nature.

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, Cait. It would be fun to have themed haiku prompts and see what people come up with.

Ruth said...

Meri, I'm glad you like those two, because I am also drawn to haiku that tell people stories.

Ruth said...

Dear DS, I so love how you receive my posts, and I understand it because I receive yours in like kind, with my deep heart.

All the best travels while you visit the CS abroad. What joy.

Ruth said...

Hi, Margaret. What a treat for you to explore poetry with your son! There is nothing quite like sharing the arts with our children. His poem is really something, and shows all sorts of artistic skill and sensibility. I wish him all the best as he launches that site, along with his other creative outlets.

I'm curious if he loved Peter's April to Fall band (the one in the blog post a while back), or Lord Huron (lordhuron.com)?

cathyswatercolors said...

Hi Ruth, Great pics.

O.K. here's the dirty details of the wedding thus far. Let's see we had rehersal dinner last night at Nikkis in greektown. Greektown was packed with the marathon and other events it was really fun to see. The kids are staying at the Athenium, College friends of Nick's have arrived from Greece and all over the country. So nice to see and of course some of his friends are having babies! In fact my girlfriend, who is suppose to come to the wedding, son is expecting today!She may have to leave the wedding to drive to Chicago.)
So the ring bearer is going to ride in a white wagon pulled by the flower girl. Well the ring baby is soooo young (16 months) and he likes to arch his back and turn to jello when you pick him up... This is so fun, Im just watching and smiling... you know mother of the groom:) So rehersal goes well, the ceramony is today, official greek style wedding, and well I get a call at 9:00 a.m. from the bride's sister, to inform us that our son Nick is missing! That's par for the course. Yeah he has a phone but of course it's not charged. (did i tell you that my son if a ton of fun but likes to party sometimes a bit tooo much?) So where did he sleep, well they say he slept at the hotel with his buddies but we haven't seen him since 7:00 a.m. WHAT!. Meanwhile, the bride's hair dressers all canceled except one, and remember this is a Greek wedding and there are 17 million bridesmaids that need their hair done! Where is My NICK???? Oh and we have two trays of extra greek pastry and 4 bottles of champaign that need to get to the limo and the Colony Club, but the roads are closed because of the race! ( actually i'm not that stressed about this i'm enjoying the drama except WHERE IS NICK) So I get a call that Nick returned, he drove to Dearborn to get the maidens donuts.The roads were closed so it took him a long time... no cell phone, Riiight. Nick told Nikki and the girls to choke on the donuts:) with a smile of course. So glad I'm not at the hotel, yet. Such a cozy morning,coffee, dog , dave and oh yeah Andy is home:) The quiet son who doesn't go missing and has a cell phone that he uses. I don't even like cell phones but geez.
Well off to puff up my frizzy hair:) No hat or purple shoes, couldn't find them and i want to just fade into the background and watch the show. Now to find those darn wedding rings....ANDY!( he's the best man)

Oliag said...

I am reading and commenting on this post just before leaving the house for a nice autumny walk. I will be meditating with haiku in mind as I walk today. I love the appearance of simplicity of haiku and the wonderful images they conjure up....Love your "mother's mind a leaf in the air"....My mind may be a leaf in the air as I walk:) Maybe I will come back with a haiku....

Marcie said...

I guess I wasn't really aware of the structure behind haiku. Such a wonderful challenge..and - yes - form of focus and meditation. Love how you've come up with yours.

Gwei Mui said...

A pure delight. I have tried and I think somewhat failed at Haiku.
But it's a form that I have always been drawn to and enjoyed.

Babs-beetle said...

Full of beauty
A place I love to visit
Synch-ro-ni-zing

rauf said...

He had a train to catch
flying full speed
he is somebody's breakfast.

Oh said...

the leaf photo...the first three haikus...each different, each an "aha" moment as you translate the world around us through picture and poetry (haiku).

just lovely as I stop here on Sunday evening , loathe to call the weekend (nearly) over and witch gears.

Ah, poetry by a poet that I know (albeit virtually) - all the better!

Arti said...

Your photography is visual poetry, Ruth. I'm particularly fond of foliages... and I just love your first photo of the leaves. Yes, maybe I'm partial to Autumn leaves ;) Thank you for the link to Friko's beautiful post. I've left a comment there... it's not fiction but real life account she has written, and that makes all the difference.

deb said...

I'm trying to like Haiku. I suppose I need to read more of the traditional ones . I wrote one, to join some other bloggers , but honestly that was it.

thanks,

and yours are wonderful,
as are your photos .

I have to say I am completely taken by the autumn weather this year.... nice gradual dip in temps, mix of rain and blue blue.

spent the last few days reading the diaries of sylvia plath... will need to go for a hike to shake the dark.

Friko said...

I have recently bought a book of classic haiku.
Playing with it in my mind and actually committing my efforts to paper or screen are still very much two different things.

I love the apparent simplicity yet how very difficult it is to tell a story in just a few syllables.

So far, I can only manage 'clumsy'.

Ruth said...

Cathy!! It was like sitting with you at coffee in person, holding my breath and listening. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this rundown of nerve-wracking anticipation. I hope the day itself was full of wonder and joy, and much peace-within kind of observation and absorption.

xoxox, my friend.

Ruth said...

Oliag, I imagined your walk, how wonderful. I like how haiku calls me to contemplate the high, and the low.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Marcie. Your photographs are meditations, and I imagine what you do to capture them is too.

Ruth said...

Gwei Mui, thank you.

All the best for your second week of rehearsals, and for your health.

Ruth said...

Babs, that's a haiku I love. :)

Thank you.

Ruth said...

rauf . . . . yikes!! Sounds like the train caught him . . .

Ruth said...

Oh, thank you. Poems as a form are already short. With haiku it is such a challenge to tell a story in so few words. It's a fun challenge.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Arti, fellow leaf-lover. I'm glad you went to Friko's outstanding essay on the foreign women who found comfort in each other. Your review of Namesake was also brilliantly rendered.

Ruth said...

Deb, thank you.

I hope your hike (in nature, presumably) did your spirit good. The reds, oranges, yellows against the blue sky have been just incredible here too.

I appreciate your heartfelt visits here.

Ruth said...

Hi, Friko, you have such a gift for crafting words, I believe that when you attempt it, you can't help but find success.

And is "clumsy" in the haiku, or just describing it . . . ?

Gwen Buchanan said...

...and with this presentation Ruth, you help us meditate so well... frogs and spiders and vultures... nature all around.. calm...

Ruth said...

Gwen, your deep presence is always a blessing.

Margaret Bednar said...

Yes, Ruth. The first FEW NOTES he LOVED it! Going to purchase it vie i-tunes. Will said he will make it popular on campus - he doesn't lack confidence, that's for sure. You have a very talented son and I can't wait to hear more from the band. Will said he would love to here just you son jam on the guitar... Will is pretty good to. He also plays upright bass. :)

Margaret Bednar said...

lordhuron.com I haven't checked that out yet. Will do :)

Pauline said...

this was a splendid post!

your words like bright leaves
tumble in a breath of wind
and color our hearts

Loring Wirbel said...

Haiku is difficult, but you make it easy and free. Have you seen Twitter haiku? Some of it is good.

Ruth said...

Margaret, please tell Will he's the bomb! I'll tell Peter he has new fans for April to Fall. Will plays upright bass, on top of acting and singing? He's something else!

Sometimes, when Peter plays, I stand at the stage and close my eyes and go into another world . . .

Ruth said...

Pauline, thank you, and thank you for your autumn haiku of thanks, which is just beautiful.

Ruth said...

Loring, you are kind, thank you. I have not seen Twitter haiku, though I've heard about it. I haven't been on Twitter since I started my account back when Iranians were protesting . . . .

Susan said...

I had no idea there was so much more to haiku than 17 syllables. Makes me feel foolish about my paltry attempt a while ago. Yours are quite beautiful, exactly what I would expect of you. The first two are perfection, with the mother one being especially poignant.

Thank you for this.

Ruth said...

Susie, I would never take your right to feel foolish away, because I think we need it now and then, but please don't feel that way about haiku. I had to do a little more study myself to find out these key elements. But just as traditions are there for a starting point, we've learned in the modern and postmodern eras to be free of them when inspiration calls!

Thank you for your sweet words, Susie.

Ginnie said...

I love the memories from school days, Ruth, when haiku was part of the English lesson. Remember Louise Greenaway? She was a Michigan graduate in her 60s, I think, with silver-grey hair...almost too-wonderful for our GLHS. I loved her to death and sat at her feet for two years, learning everything I could. Truth be known, I think she's one of the reasons I chose UofM for university. Don't you love what a post on haiku can conjure up!?! :)

Terresa said...

Blessed nod to the haiku.

I enjoy haiku for its brevity. And I find myself preferring poetry writing and reading (haiku included) to short stories and novels.

Poetry is shorter, more digestible, fast food words so to speak, but when well done (as in your post here), enough to fill, even to overflowing.

Jeanie said...

I'm wretched at haiku. I should take lessons from you. We tried to have our kids in Ele's do it -- they were better than I!