Meditation and Poetics – 96 – Haiku – 9 (Haiku continued)


AG: One (haiku) that suggests space:

      Oh, snail
      climb Mt. Fuji,
      but slowly, slowly.
That’s Issa, who is the most like William Carlos Williams in temperament – that is to say, he includes himself as a solitary, lonesome, weepy object, a sort of objective picture of self.  He was the one that had for a brushwood gate, for a lock, the snail. He also was the one, 
      The young girl 
      blew her nose
      in the evening glory
      at battledore and shuttlecock
      the beautiful maiden’s anger.
That’s like a tiny novel, too.  
      An autumn night,
      Dreams, snores
      The chirping of crickets.
That could lead to a (Walt) Whitman line, “The old man sleeping in the Oklahoma night, dreaming, snoring, amid the chirping of crickets.”  
      Angry and offended
      I came back
      the willow tree in the garden.

 This is one that I’ve always liked, because it conjures up a whole geography and a season and an emotion and an objectivity that follows the emotion and a gap.

      Not a single stone      
      to throw at the dog
      The wintry moon.

Ground all frozen.  He actually couldn’t pick a stone up off the frozen ground because the stones were frozen to the ground.  And there he was in the frozen ground, suddenly noticing the wintry moon, also, and his anger.  “Not a single stone to throw at the moon” — gap, breath — “Not a single stone to throw at the moon? The wintry dog.”  The dog at the wintry door.  “Not a single stone to throw at the dog.  The wintry moon.”  


      The Rose of Sharon 
      by the roadside
      was eaten by a horse.
That’s one of the funniest, actually.  That’s Basho, again.
      You light the fire
      I’ll show you something nice,
      a great big snowball. 
This is the first Basho composed one snowy day when Sora, another friend, haiku maker, called on him.
      You light the fire
      I’ll show you something nice,
      a great big snowball. 
      A shower came…
This is again in the region of almost synchronicity [and] indefineability: based on synchronicity and yet some tricks of nature that sort of confound the mind, or confound logic:
      A shower came
      Running inside,
      it cleared up.
All the activity responding to the shower, vain.  But the playfulness of it and the harmlessness of it.  – A shower came/Running inside,/ it cleared up.
The next is an exemplar of, again, no ideas but in things”, dwelling in materiality, or suggesting powerful emotions through presentations of purely material objects.
      The departing servant
      umbrella in hand
      she gazes out at the evening.
Student:  Say it again.
      The departing servant
      umbrella in hand
      she gazes out at the evening.
Sort of a great space-out blank.   And then, an alternative to that:
      The change of servants
      her tears splash 
      on the tatami mat.
      Some scraps of paper
      after she’d gone.
      A feeling of lonesomeness.

Then to get some sense of sacred mystery, again through purely material means:
      The travelling altar just set down,
      Swayed with an earthquake
      On the summer moor.
You have all of the awe of nature in that – The travelling altar/ just set down/swayed with an earthquake on the summer moor.  You really couldn’t get more cosmic, actually. 

Back to Issa, relating to anger and emotion and then a gap and realization.
      Striking the fly
      I also hit
      a flowering plant.
So he’s again, like Williams, totally material in a sense and personal – the most personal of the haiku artists.
      The thunderstorm having cleared up
      the evening sun shines on a tree
      where a locust is chirping.
That’s quite a jump.  The thunderstorm:  Having conjured up a thunderstorm in the first line – “The thunderstorm having cleared up/ the evening sun shines on a tree/where a locust is chirping.” – So you have this vast thunderstorm and attention narrowing down to that single sound, through the slanting rays of the sun, on a tree and the single chirp of a cicada.  Beginning, then, with Wagnerian majestic cloud and ending on a very tiny note. 
This for a suggestion of pathos or compassion or without mentioning, without mentioning pathos, compassion or any abstraction:

      Mountain persimmons..


Mountain persimmons,  that is to say, obviously, uncultivated. Somebody’s up there gathering wild persimmons, perhaps out of hunger.  But, anyway:
      Mountain persimmons      
      the mother is eating 
      the astringent parts
So who got the sweet parts? – “Mountain persimmons/ the mother is eating/ the astringent parts

Then the one of space that I mentioned before:
      It walked with me
      as I walked
      the scarecrow in the distance.


That’s a funny kind of common optical perception that’s exemplified in that.  

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