A temenos1 is a place in space: the establishment of a ritual architecture — a mandalic precinct as sacred ground in which to work. As Jung discusses, we may propitiously find our authentic selves within this protected space. Landscapes of sanctuary can present themselves in a multitude of forms, which may be why haiku (and the short poem) act on consciousness with immediacy: they provide ephemeral, spontaneous scenes arising in the specious present, as places of temenos. To enter and explore a temenos requires attendance upon psyche; “making the darkness conscious” is an attendance to mystery, a deepening of psychological distance between meaning and unknowing. (Poetry as Consciousness, 110-111)
I see “poetry and protection” more as a notion to further investigate (temenos, mystery, risk, sanctuary) than as a definitive concrete particular of psyche. As such, it’s difficult to write on this topic with brevity. The above quotation offers more a hint than a scenario, leaving the poems themselves to breathe images of temenos into life.
even, if, because plum blossoms in the courtyard midnight mockingbird Allen Ginsberg in my bed Just enough of rain To bring the smell of silk From umbrellas. [Miriam Sagan, The Disjunctive Dragonfly (2011); Kath Abela Wilson, Haiku 2014; Richard Wright, Haiku in English (c. 1958]
In Sagan is seen a neologistic phrasal collocation: “even, if, because”; such language-play is often light‑hearted as well as explorative, conjuring novel worlds through semantic unusuality. In a most playful and lightly mocking haiku by Wilson, Beat poet Allen Ginsberg makes a sudden, irruptive appearance “in my bed.” In this mise-en-scène, who mocks whom in “midnight mockingbird” rhythm? In Wright is a most‑nuanced haiku, which begins its emotional journey with “just enough” — a sensual poem in which the lightest touch of rain yields scent on silk, evoking the colors of Parisian umbrellas, perhaps on a street not far from his home, near the time of composition.
Please freely comment on these below (as well as those above) using the Reply Box at the bottom of the page:
curtains of light the wave inside flowers (Mark Harris, Otata 10, October 2016) a breath inside the dusk glass house (Sabine Miller (haiga), Otoliths 35, 22 October 2014) psilocybin a silo of self in a forest (Agnes Eva Savich, Bones 18, 15 November 2019)
Creative Blooms will appear every other Tuesday. Three poems will be provided with commentary, and an additional three offered for creative interaction by our readership. With every third installment, Gilbert will introduce a largely unknown Japanese poet, translated into English with annotations, for the first time. We look forward to a lively discussion of these fascinating and challenging poems.
Richard Gilbert, professor of English Literature at Kumamoto University in Japan, is the author of Poetry as Consciousness: Haiku Forests, Space of Mind, and an Ethics of Freedom (illustrated by Sabine Miller, Kebunsha Co. Ltd., 2018, ISBN 978-4-86330-189-4), The Disjunctive Dragonfly (Red Moon Press, 2008, rev. 2013), and Poems of Consciousness (Red Moon Press, 2008), among others. He is also director of the Kon Nichi Translation Group, whose most recent book is the tour de force Haiku as Life: A Tohta Kaneko Omnnibus (Red Moon Press, 2019). In January 2020, he announced the creation of Heliosparrow Poetry Journal, an evolution of the Haiku Sanctuary forum.