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Per Diem Archive: C. Patchel April 2013, Sehnsucht

Between the Words, Beyond the Senses

Christopher Patchel has come down with a case of 'sehnsucht.' The German word sehnsucht [zane-zuhkt] has no adequate equivalent in other languages, though the feeling it attempts to name is universal. 'Longing' or 'yearning' is the closest English translation. An "inconsolable longing" for Cwe know not what" is one way C.S. Lewis describes it, and another, ”the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited." 

Being elusive by definition, sehnsucht can often be taken for wanderlust,homesickness, nostalgia, or other wistful desires. But however indefinite the object, the desire itself can seem more significant than all else, as expressed in the closing lines of Walt Whitman's Song of the Universal: Is it a dream? / Nay but the lack of it the dream, / And failing it life's lore and wealth a dream / And all the world a dream.

Haiku is rooted in sensory perceptions of tangible realities in the here and now. How then does it fare with the indefinable? The 30 poems that make up this sequence suggest or evoke some sense of sehnsucht for me. Perhaps some of them strike a similar pang in you as well.

Author: Christopher Herold
autumn sunset
the wake of a tugboat
sloshes ashore
Author: Peggy Willis Lyles
wind in the pines
I reach past
my fingertips
Author: Carolyn Hall
wild iris—
the blazed trail stops
short of the meadow         
Author: John Wills
and in the distance 
Author: Allan Burns
climbing in shadow
the canyon rim
brightly lit
Author: Scott Mason
childhood home…    
   my climbing tree’s
      phantom limbs
Author: John Stevenson
without knowing what for
autumn colors
Author: Pamela Connor
snow angels
almost invisible 
under new snow
Author: Bob Lucky
the sound of bells
wishing I believed
in something
Author: Marianne Bluger
Ash Wednesday
as I dust the piano
faint notes
Author: Carole MacRury
I drive on past
my destination
Author: Vanessa Proctor
night kayaking
never quite reaching
the moon
Author: Caroline Gourlay
writing at my desk
I look out across the sea…
words slip their moorings
Author: paul m. (Paul Miller)
squatter's shack
fireflies rise 
from the bush
Author: Yu Chang
faint stars
the flapping of canvas
on a grape truck
Author: Ferris Gilli
a curtain billows
before the rain
scent of roses
Author: Peter Yovu
sunlight through
the thin white blouse she
holds up folds and puts away
Author: Mark Harris
Author: Jim Kacian
looking out the window
long after
Author: Katherine Cudney
heat lightning
the weight 
of a sparrow
Author: John Crook
ebb tide
the shell I keep reaching for
carried further away
Author: Martin Lucas
summer's end
the ice cream van
plays 'Greensleeves'
Author: John Stevenson
childhood home
as I arrive
Author: Cor van den Heuvel
on the bathroom hamper
morning sunlight fills the sails
of a toy boat 
Author: William Cullen Jr
migrating geese
the canoe pulls
at its rope
Author: Nick Avis
night curtain
    the autumn moonlight
    finds a small tear
Author: Gary LeBel
goldenrod fields…
the rags of curtains
blowing in the wind
Author: R.C. Matsuo-Allard
passing clouds only a stand of aspen is in light
Author: Fay Aoyagi
a forever stamp on a letter to the ocean
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