Author Topic: A Wolf in Firefly's Clothing?  (Read 22799 times)

Adam Traynor

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Re: A Wolf in Firefly's Clothing?
« Reply #30 on: April 21, 2011, 06:25:50 PM »
For sure Paul Cordeiro is entitled to his preference for one approach to haiku. However, I find nothing dishonest about Kaneko Tohta's poem.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2011, 07:22:39 PM by tray »

beagset

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Re: A Wolf in Firefly's Clothing?
« Reply #31 on: April 21, 2011, 09:02:17 PM »
hi Jim,
  In answer to your question, I would say the poem is powerful. Of itself, I only have a wolf, which
may roam at night to hunt and possibly in packs--and the equally strong firefly that clings to the wolf.
Both singularities are so naturally combined as phenomena.
   What disappointed is to hear that this was an imaginary wolf possibly and a scene that the poet only
desktopped or used in his imagination. of course, he is entitled to his method of creation but nonetheless
it weakens the experience for me knowing that this isn't an actual moment the sensei came across in the woods or a field. Just a simple take: don't like desktop haiku much. Just my preference for masterwork
that fly on a walk rather from the seat of ones pants. I was fooled. cheers, paul cordeiro

Gabi Greve

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Re: A Wolf in Firefly's Clothing?
« Reply #32 on: April 21, 2011, 09:17:00 PM »
from the seat of ones pants. I was fooled.
 cheers, paul cordeiro


Hi Paul, I think this wolf comes right from the "seat of his pants".  :)



He was still quite "acitve" until old age, as I remember him saying, and this haiku is about himself.

Gabi

Mary Stevens

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Re: A Wolf in Firefly's Clothing?
« Reply #33 on: April 23, 2011, 04:24:25 AM »
Thanks for posting the haiga, Gabi. I had pretty much pictured the firefly where it is depicted in the picture, but instead of on its leg, further up on on the wolf's side, as if it had picked it up when lying down in a meadow.
"A word that breathes distinctly
Has not the power to die..."

            —Emily Dickinson

beagset

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Re: A Wolf in Firefly's Clothing?
« Reply #34 on: April 24, 2011, 05:21:32 AM »
Hi Jim and All,
  enjoyed Gabi's link to the pic. But without the sensei's own comments would anyone have a clue that the subject of this haiku was the author himself? The haiku is stated objectively and without any self-referential clues. Personally, I don't read anything into a poem that is not there. The author didn't
write:

    I am the wolf

or

  The wolf
  is me.

Perhaps Gabi could say if the Japanese look for something other than reality between phenomena in
their ku? A philosophical or other clue that lies behind the mere objective words.

 
  I am afraid that the allusion to the author being a wolf in a haiku would be missed by anyone used to poems refering to the world rather than to something other than what the words actually say. It seems a sly game this wolf in sheep's clothing gambit.

    It would be like me writing the word sheep, and you knowing that Cordeiro means young ram, little lamb, or someone who was a Shepherd. You would have to know Portuguese to understand where the allusion would come from as translation, and that everytime I use that sheep in a poem that it would mean I am alluding to myself rather than an actual breathing sheep.
   just my take, paul

AlanSummers

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Re: A Wolf in Firefly's Clothing?
« Reply #35 on: April 24, 2011, 10:39:01 AM »
I partly agree with Paul, although a poem stating: A wolf followed by the colon could be recognised as metaphor by a non-haikai poet, as other poets tend to contantly write and search for metaphors.

Alan

Don Baird

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Re: A Wolf in Firefly's Clothing?
« Reply #36 on: April 24, 2011, 10:53:57 AM »
Alan,

That's an interesting point.  The colon does add light to the resonance of the poem (metaphor). I wonder what indicators there are in Japanese?

... a growing and interesting thread ...

Don
I write haiku because they're there ...

through
the hole of a cheerio,
spring!

beagset

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Re: A Wolf in Firefly's Clothing?
« Reply #37 on: April 25, 2011, 06:51:44 PM »
hi Folks,
   then like Alan said, if I am hearing him correctly, the ; stands in for a kireji which means something more
in Japanese than it does in English. In English, the semi-colon would link "the wolf" to the next phrase
as being separate but somehow the second phenomena would correspond in some way. I was unaware of
a colon signifying metaphor. I used to use it widely--having put a ; in lin1 or in the middle of L2 to create a pause and to link the first phrase and the second phrase as equal corresponding phenomena. My examples
from Modern Haiku:

      she waves goodbye;
      the autumn moon, the crickets
      are all one voice


      resort umbrellas
      folded in the rain; a swan
      slips beak under wing


Does anyone know why this practice of semi-colon usage has fallen out of favor with many haiku
poets? Many ku have breath units shorter than these nowadays.

      Paul Cordeiro

Gabi Greve

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Re: A Wolf in Firefly's Clothing?
« Reply #38 on: April 25, 2011, 06:58:03 PM »
狼に蛍がひとつ付いていた  
 
ookami ni
hotaru ga hitotsu
tsuite ita

ookami ni hotaru ga hitotsu tsuite ita

The Japanese does not have a kireji anywhere ...  it is in fact just one sentence ...

As you will realize from this, translators have a way of "interpreting" things for their readers ...
The whole discussion about semicolon and metaphor does not apply to the original haiku.

here

on the wolf
a firefly
attached itself

http://www.haiku-hia.com/rireki_tohta_en.html


Gabi

beagset

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Re: A Wolf in Firefly's Clothing?
« Reply #39 on: April 27, 2011, 07:48:44 PM »
Hi All,
  like Gabi's one breath unit translation or should we also say complete sentence. so much for two phrases
and the ; idea. Thanks Gabi for setting us straight.
   The poem reads objectively unless someone can shed light on a self-referential thought in its wording. Otherwise, the wolf association attached to the author only appears outside the context of the poem-- if you know the poet's inclination to identify with wolf or overheard his prose statements. The poem itself seems to read as if the poet saw the wolf and the attached firefly in a moment. The firefly is the aha moment where a special something happens. The firefly seems of brief and lasting importance.
   If I am wrong on this, does the wolf association arise from reader understanding based on prior knowledge of a history of haiku poetics(posssibly not practiced outside of Japan) or is the conclusion reached from some other source. Do certain haijin always associate themselves with native specie as a matter of course? I'm speculating simply because, except for some limited knowledge of kigo, I have no
idea about an allusion that illicits from a reader this response when the ku appears straighforward and objective. Does the pic cause the layered connection?
   Once again, I defer to Gabi or other knowledgeable haijin aware of haiku practice in Japan. cheers, paul

Lorin

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Re: A Wolf in Firefly's Clothing?
« Reply #40 on: April 28, 2011, 03:36:44 AM »
"If I am wrong on this, does the wolf association arise from reader understanding based on prior knowledge of a history of haiku poetics(posssibly not practiced outside of Japan)..." Paul

Paul, I would say, though Gabi explicitly denies it,

"The whole discussion about . . . metaphor does not apply to the original haiku." - Gabi

that this haiku does rely on metaphor. . . metaphor in the broad sense of 'verbal metaphor' or trope. . . and also that to 'get' the trope a reader would need to be familiar, not with the history of Japanese poetics so much as the history of Japan itself, and the romanticized history of Japan at that.
 
(There's no hint here, that I can see, of the fact that the little Japanese wolves are extinct because the last of them were poisoned with strychnine bait, government approved, despite the fact that there are shrines and statues etc abounding. That should be enough, in itself, to show that the wolf in this haiku is not a real wolf but a symbol of something more important to the Japanese than the real wolves. )

Both 'wolf' and 'firefly' are richly metaphorical in Japan. I'll have a stab at it and say that this haiku probably relies on the kind of trope or verbal metaphor that we usually call metonym, but it could just as well be mixed metaphor, including both metonym and personification as well as alluding to the 'history' or the literary history of Japan. I think we need to remember that 'metaphor' is actually a continuum, including metonym, literal symbol, pun, personification, certain types of allusion... any means by which words come to connote something other than or as well as what they denote.

ie...it ain't 'shasei' ;-) anymore than if I were to write a ku about an emu with its head buried in the sand, or even the dreaming.

That Kaneko Tohta is associated with journal titled 'Wolf' ( see Gabi's blog) and the quotes from the author himself on the same page indicates that the haiku is intended to be metaphorical and that an educated Japanese audience could be expected to 'get' it. For non-Japanese, it seems to need a lot of explanation if we are to read it as anything but a noted observation, however it's translated. It probably needs, for a non-Japanese audience, as lengthy footnotes as the whole of Eliot's The Wasteland.

"Kaneko Tohta comments:
I was born in Chichibu. There used to be wolves in the area a long time ago. And they have been the subject of religious belief, like deities."

"In Chichibu there are still many legends about wolves. In many shrines are stone images of wolves. Wolves are extinct in Japan, but they are still alive (in the memories of people). Especially inside myself, they still live in their original wild form."

http://wkdhaikutopics.blogspot.com/2011/02/kaneko-tohta-wolf-haiku.html


- Lorin

Mark Harris

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Re: A Wolf in Firefly's Clothing?
« Reply #41 on: April 28, 2011, 06:43:33 AM »
also, and although Lorin alludes to this, I think it's worth emphasizing: In Japan, where haiku is more popular that in other countries, Kaneko Tohta is a public figure. His haiku is taught in the schools, he appears on television, etc. He was an integral figure in the artistic reimagining of his country in the postwar period. As such, he can rely on his audience's familiarity with his history, and theirs, in a way that most of us could not.

Whether that's good or bad is a discussion we can thrash out. When it comes to understanding this particular poem, imo, this particular poet's relationship to his primary readership can't be ignored.


[small edit to correct a mispelling]

beagset

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Re: A Wolf in Firefly's Clothing?
« Reply #42 on: April 28, 2011, 07:11:53 AM »
Hi folks,
  Thank you Lorin and Mark for the detailed explanation of poetry practice and understanding of the circumstances--the playing field (so to speak) in which the poem resonates in Japan. It seemed that the ku's power has to exist in a realm where the reader has information given(outside of the poem) that wouldn't be available to someone unfamiliar with the culture or confusing perhaps to an outsider peeking in.
   appreciate the follow-up, paul cordeiro
   
   
   don't worry
   horsefly
   I've read Issa
   

chibi575

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Re: A Wolf in Firefly's Clothing?
« Reply #43 on: April 29, 2011, 10:27:23 AM »
"u" can make a difference housefly or horsefly: Issa's spiders

firefly in the web... in the spider (I've wondered if a spider eats a firefly where the glow goes?!)

idle minds...
the haijin's
playground
知美

Don Baird

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Re: A Wolf in Firefly's Clothing?
« Reply #44 on: April 29, 2011, 07:52:49 PM »
@Chibi:

"I've wondered if a spider eats a firefly where the glow goes?"~chibi

This kind of thinking hurts my brain!  LOL   :o

best to you,

Don
I write haiku because they're there ...

through
the hole of a cheerio,
spring!