Skip to content

Per Diem for November 2019: Celestial Bodies (Monoku)

 

Per Diem: Daily Haiku for November 2019 features Pravat Kumar Padhy’s collection on the theme of ‘Celestial Bodies’. This is what Pravat has to say by way of an introduction to this theme:

The reference of celestial bodies has been associated with the social and religious causes since time immemorial. The earliest Chinese farmer’s calendar can be traced back to 5141-5042 B.C when the farmers refer the cycle of the moon and other celestial bodies to determine the farming activities. In the book, “Yu Tu Bei Kao Quan Shu” the motions of the sun and moon, the stars and constellations have been depicted. Astronomy cards of Zodiacal constellations, designed by Jehoshaphat Aspin (assumed name), are dated back to the early Babylonian period, possibly to the Sumerians time. Tibetan astrological Thangka, hung in the home for protection from evil, is characterized by nine magic squares and symbols of the eight planets.

The references of Astronomy are found in the Rigveda, the ancient Indian literature (most likely 1500-1200 BCE) of Sanskrit hymns. Astronomy (Nakshatravidya) is elaborated in the Chhandogya Upanishad. The Vedic Seers in Sanskrit literature often cited cosmological mentions like the light in the sky, stars, planets, etc.

Petrus Apianus (1492-1552) described the cosmos according to the 1400-year-old Ptolemaic system and believed that the sun revolved around the earth. It was later challenged by Polish astronomer Nicolas Copernicus (1473-1543) who opined that the earth and other planets revolve around the sun. Thirty-seven years after Galileo (1564-1642) made the first drawings of the moon, the Selenographia, the first lunar atlas was published by the Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius (1611-1687).

References of celestial objects in the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, John Donne, John Milton, William Wordsworth, P B Shelley, John Keats, W B Yeats, T S Eliot, W H Auden, and others have been poetically exemplified.

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Appareled in celestial light,

(William Wordsworth, Intimations of Immortality)

The cosmic bodies related to astronomy or heavenly phenomena (tensoo) have been included in the seven Japanese categories of haiku and related kigo reference. According to Basho, there are two planes in haiku: fueki ryuko ie. Eternal and Current. The cosmic plane relates to haiku that is associated with nature and landscape. Shiki in his classification has mentioned ‘Nature and Celestial and Earthly’ aspects of haiku.

The following classical hokku by Basho has a brilliant celestial reference.

ara umi ya
sado ni yokotau
ama no gawa

R H Blyth translates it into English referring ‘heaven’s river’ as ‘The Milky Way’:

A wild sea,
And stretching out towards the island of Sado,
The Milky Way.

Issa, long ago, had referred about the concept of astronomy in the following haiku:

how beautiful!
the milky way
through a hole in the curtain

Monoku is a one-liner poem in brevity and clarity in expression and its hybridity in origins: a Greek prefix wedded to a Japanese suffix to create a new English term as put forth by Jim Kacian. According to Jim, “Multiple stops yield subtle, rich, often ambiguous texts which generate alternative readings, and subsequent variable meanings. Each poem can be several poems, and the more the different readings cohere and reinforce each other, the larger the field occupied by the poem, the greater its weight in the mind.”

Some examples of monostich (one-line poem) were created by classic ancient Roman author Marcus Valerius Martialis (c. 38 and 41 AD – c. 102 and 104 AD). Edward Hirsh in his book ‘A Poet’s Glossary’ narrates, “As the Greek Anthology (tenth century) illustrates, the monostich can be a proverb, an aphorism, an enigma, a fragment, an image, an enigma.” Valery Bryusov, Walt Whitman, Edith Thomas, Guillaume Apollinaire, Bill Zavatsky, Emmanuel Lochac, Matsuo-Allard, Ralph Hodgson are the pioneers of early monoku poems. Valery Bryusov published the single line poem in 1894 in the Russian language. Guillaume Apollinaire is known as the first poet to write a one-line poem in his 1913 book Alcools : ‘Poems 1898-1913’ in French.

Emmanuel Lochac published one-liners in French under the title Monostiches in a literary magazine in 1929. Breunig translated it into English in 1936 and there has been a celestial reference ‘sun’ in his monoku:

Voilier emportant le soleil dans les vergues

Schooner bearing away the sun in its arms

Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s one-line poems (monoku like), “The Stray Birds” (1916) are more of proverbial expressions with poetic lucidity having occasional reference of celestial bodies:

If you shed tears when you miss the sun, you also miss the stars.

Late Australian haiku poet, Janice Bostok, also referenced celestial bodies in her early groundbreaking and influential experimentation with monoku:

first venus then star by star the night deepens

The heavenly bodies are associated with social festivals, beliefs, auspicious occasions, protections from evils, etc. The celestial entities of haiku writing can broadly be correlated to poetic inquisitiveness, human behavior, historical events, spiritual credence, and socio-cultural aspects.

The monoku have been selected to showcase the poetic spirit associated with the celestial bodies.

–  Pravat Kumar Padhy

This Post Has 40 Comments

  1. An amazing read! It was a delight to read all the monoku chosen and the commentary.

    The intro by Pravat Kumar Padhy is interesting and beautiful in its content, scope and depth. Celestial bodies continue to cast their magic on us humans and inspire us.
    Pravat’s deep knowledge as a geo-scientist shines through his poetry.

  2. Dear Poets,

    I express my gratitude to Jim Kacian and Rob Scott for rendering me the opportunity to guest-edit the Per Diem, November 2019 issue. I remain thankful to all my poets who generously offer permissions to showcase their brilliant monoku on the special theme, “Celestial Bodies”. The poetic interaction with my dear friends is respectfully acknowledged. Indeed it has been a memorable poetic journey: Ku to Cosmos!

    The essence of poetry nestles in the diligent fragrance of the flower, simplicity flow of the river, the spread of leaves with gentleness, the calmness of deep ocean and embellishment of soothing shadow. I aspire to present unison of poetic-scientific effervescence to usher in a pristine social renaissance and wish celebration of a beautiful tomorrow of the universal truism.

    The art of poetry glimmers the symphony of love and peace and epitomizes the culture through ages. The philosophy of poetry keeps on flowing like ripples of rhythm through time and space. It muses with the innocence of the animals, songs of the birds, swinging branches of the trees, braided rhythm of a waterfall, shifting shadows of mountains, breezing touch of the dunes of desert and silence of the azure sky!

    Wishing you and your family a happy and delightful New Year.

    With gratitude

    Pravat

    1. Dear Radhamani,

      I am happy to read your beautiful monoku symbolizing the age-old socio-cultural assimilation with the celestial bodies, and the moon in particular. The Moon is fondly gestured by kids in India as “Chanda Mama” (Uncle Moon). According to Hindu mythology, Lakshmi ( the Hindu goddess of wealth, good fortune, prosperity, and beauty) and Chandra ( the Moon) emerged as sister and brother during the churning of the ocean (Ksheer Sagar Manthan). Thus the kids warmly call Chandra (the Moon) as “Chanda Mama”. From the time immemorial, Indian mothers lovingly narrate folklores about “Chanda Mama” to their kids.

      The widely accepted hypothesis of the Moon formation is related to the giant impact of a Mars-sized body known as Theia (a hypothesized ancient planet) with the Proto-Earth. Based on the rock samples of Apollo Missions, Geologist Edward Young proposed a head-on collision with the Earth and the debris of the Theia around the earth subsequently formed the Moon.

      It has been fascinating to unveil the beauty of the long-standing beliefs and socio-cultural practices by correlating with the modern scientific milieu through poetic exploration.

      *

      moonlit sky
      the kids pick up slices
      of the star fruits

      -Pravat Kumar Padhy

      Credit: The Mainichi Shimbun, 30.8.2018

      *

      moonrise the sky from the oncology wing

      -Pravat Kumar Padhy

      Credits: Presence #61, 2018
      a hole in the light: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2018

      *****

  3. Delighted to have my monoku up today, Friday, 22nd November 2019! 🙂
    .
    .
    snow on the sun navigating childhoods
    .
    Alan Summers
    .
    Anthology & First Credit:
    Yanty’s Butterfly Haiku Nook: An Anthology (2016)
    ed. Jacob Salzer & The Nook Editorial Staff ISBN-10: 1329915410. ISBN-13: 978-1329915411
    https://jsalzer.wixsite.com/yantysbutterfly
    .
    Essay Credit:
    Monoku: An Experiment with Minimalism in Haiku Literature
    by Pravat Kumar Padhy pub. Under the Basho journal (November 2018)
    .
    .

    “An excellent monoku: “snow on the sun” is unique as I don’t think people would normally think of it that way, and “navigating childhoods” leaves plenty of room for the reader to participate. There is a balance of concrete and abstract in this one-line haiku.”
    Jacob Salzer, Managing Editor, Yanty’s Butterfly anthology
    .
    .

    1. Dear Alan,

      The aesthetic art of haiku dwells in the layers of creativeness it creates in the mind of the readers. In the first read, the monoku of six words (10 syllables) appears as if a bit inclination towards abstract reality. But the contrast image and subtle word phrase ‘navigating childhoods’ set it to sail into different horizons manifesting poetic elegance (miyabi) of vertical axis of the haiku.

      The monoku contains the elements of creativeness (zoko) and mystery (yugen). It brings the nostalgic life of childhood days to the readers’ mind. The word pharse ‘snow on the sun’ holds the key of the haiku. It can be interpreted as the beauty of the rising sun behind the snow-capped hills and spreading a zen-feeling. The image could be a sunny morning with broken patches of cirrus clouds in the sky and kids cheering and clapping around! Interestingly, it may turn out to be a juxtaposed image of French vanilla ice cream on the hot chocolate and reminiscing about the childhood days running after mother!

      crowing cocks reach the morning sun

      -Pravat Kumar Padhy

      Credit: EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2015: Years of Light, Haiku Foundation

      1. Dear Pravat Kumar Padhy,
        .
        Many thanks for your tackling my poem!
        .
        .
        snow on the sun navigating childhoods
        .
        Alan Summers
        .
        I love how you have got inside my poem and that “[t]he word phrase ‘snow on the sun’ holds the key of the haiku.”
        .
        .
        A delightful monoku from you, that I just had to highlight! 🙂
        .
        .
        crowing cocks reach the morning sun
        .
        -Pravat Kumar Padhy
        .
        Publication Credit: EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2015: Years of Light, Haiku Foundation

  4. .
    This was originally a monoku but placed over three lines for space constrictions, but here it is as a monoku:
    .
    .
    snowing through the blizzard particles of me
    .
    Alan Summers
    .
    .
    Winner, The Haiku Calendar Competition 2011 (Snapshot Press)
    Anthology: Earth in Sunrise: A Course for English-Language Haiku Study (Kumamoto University, Japan, textbook for teaching university-level English-language education) ed. Professor Richard Gilbert and David Ostman (Red Moon Press 2017)

    1. Dear Alan,
      It is a very beautiful monoku by the ‘Abruptive method’ of expression embedded with poetic word phrases. It portrays something beyond and special. This is the art of poetry.

      I wish to post the my e-mail to Jim on 26 August 2019 regarding the possible exploration of monoku writings: monosyllabic expression, Monoku sequence, Monoku strings etc.

      “Poets, in sublime consciousness, are guided by the psychological phenomenon. The sub-genre, Monoku, has a long journey since its beginning encompassing various techniques and poetic expressions. It has its wide range of structural fabric, tonality, range, and embroidery of multi-imageries. At times, some express in such brevity, I wonder it may be metamorphosed into mono-syllabic manifestation and finally as Monoku-silence (. . .)!

      I have the pleasure of reading the outpouring enthusiasm of poets contributing monoku to the recent Poet’s Choice: Haiku Dialogue, HF with an opening example of yours by Craig.
      I wish there could be an attempt at the concept of ‘Monoku Sequence, Monoku String’. Equally, there could be an adventure by two or more haikuist writing through a poetic style or collaborative dialogue by imparting it as a Dramatized form in monoku poetry.

      The classification of the contemporary monoku writings can be made based on the wide range image connectivity-both vertically and horizontally- interconnected image building: contraction and expansion, maneuvering of word arrangements, literary engineering of linguistic elements and others…..”

        1. So nice, Sir. Innovative ideas would enrich our literature and make the path of poetic journey perennial. I have the pleasure of reading the scholarly article ” Travelling the single line of haiku” by you and referred it in my essay “Monoku: An Experiment with Minimalism in Haiku Literature”, published in “Under the Basho’, 2018.

          Warm regards
          Pravat

    2. TO Alan Summers,
      Dear esteemed poet,
      Greetings.

      “snowing through the blizzard particles of me”

      When we experience winter, the monoku resonates well with
      experience almost with individual aura

      with regards
      S.Radhamani

      1. Dear Pravat Kumar ,
        Thankfully acknowledging your encouraging words of appreciation.

        …….
        my shadow bites
        a bit of your light
        great visual image.
        with regards
        S.Radhamani

  5. A neat write and interesting collection PKji…. Am reading it everyday. When you say Nakshatravidya…I have to bring up the seven sages… also the Big Dipper which is a pattern of the seven brightest bodies in the Great Bear or Ursa Major

    No, the theme does not have to have all the stars shining in the monoku, I love Brendon Kent’s one liner, it is popular.

  6. It’s lovely to read your intro0duction, P,K. 🙂 and I look forward to reading al of the haiku you’cve chosen.
    .
    Jan Bostok, who you mention, was the first to publish my first one-liner / ‘monoku’ efforts (as haiku editor for the Australian online poetry journal, Stylus )
    .
    My first “celestial bodies” monoku:
    .
    s p a c e d o u t o v e r t h e e s c a r p m e n t t h e s t a r s
    ,
    paper wasp Feb. 2008
    .
    – Lorin

    1. Dear Lorin,
      I feel humbled by your inspiring comments. I have preserved with delight all your communications and e-mails in my digital library. Your first ‘celestial bodies’ monoku of equally-spaced letters is very poignant.

      With gratitude
      Pravat

  7. Dear Pravat Kumar Padhy,
    Greetings. Thanks for your kind words of appreciation. Delighted to read your insightful introduction to this week’s choice.
    ‘ Celestial bodies’ amazingly inspiring!

  8. Per Diem: Daily Haiku for November 2019 features Pravat Kumar Padhy’s collection on the theme of ‘death’.
    Shouldn’t be “on the theme of “celestial body monoku”?

Comments are closed.

Back To Top