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re:Virals 138

Welcome to re:Virals, The Haiku Foundation’s weekly poem commentary feature on some of the finest haiku ever written in English. This week’s poem was

 
     Final de agosto.
     A un tiempo: sol de ocaso y
     naciente luna llena.  

     The end of august. 
     At the same time: sunset sun                      
     and rising full moon.  
                                                                                                    
          — Ana López Navajas
Moon in the River: International haiku contest of the University of Law of Albacete, Dec. 2016

Alan Summers sums up summers:

Is this all about the end of an actual summer, or a little of both literal and symbolic? Of course early in our youth we might be, as I was, stunned that the sun and moon can appear in the sky at the same time. But in life many things can occur at the same time, such as love and hate, life and death, peace and war, and relationships that end physically but not emotionally.
The end of august might be the end of a summer romance or adventure, and the next month is back to business as a supposedly normal and sensible, and responsible, person. Bring back august!

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As this week’s winner, Alan gets to choose next week’s poem, which you’ll find below. We invite you to write a commentary to it. It may be as long or short, academic or spontaneous, serious or silly, public or personal as you like. We will select out-takes from the best of these. And the very best will be reproduced in its entirety and take its place as part of the THF Archives. Best of all, the winning commentator gets to choose the next poem for commentary.
Anyone can participate. A new poem will appear each Friday morning. Simply put your commentary in the Contact box by the following Tuesday midnight (Eastern US Time Zone). Please use the subject header “re:Virals” so we know what we’re looking at. We look forward to seeing some of your favorite poems — and finding out why!
 
re:Virals 138:

 
     early dark
     the cathedral visible
     only as windows

          — Karen Hoy Another Country: Haiku Poetry from Wales (Gomer Press, 2011)

This Post Has 7 Comments

    1. It was a pleasure to think about and comment on this beautiful haiku, Alan and Karen. Warm wishes, Marietta

  1. Hi Karen, I really enjoy the imagery and the religious undertones of this haiku. The low sun reflected in the church window. Almost blinding you… Like, for many the word of the church is blinding them/us. The wording of the phrase is perhaps a bit too staccato. Did you cut out a little too much of the phrase? I think so, and the phrase would be stronger and flow better with an additional something like ‘…just visible’ or ‘now’, or … I wonder what you think. Fondly, Michael

      1. Hi Michael,
        .
        Karen isn’t big on social media I’m afraid. 🙂
        So here’s my thought process. Karen is away with a writing group, discussing how to finish chapters. 🙂
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        Michael Smeer says
        May 5, 2018 at 6:58 am
        Hi Karen, I really enjoy the imagery and the religious undertones of this haiku. The low sun reflected in the church window. Almost blinding you… Like, for many the word of the church is blinding them/us. The wording of the phrase is perhaps a bit too staccato. Did you cut out a little too much of the phrase? I think so, and the phrase would be stronger and flow better with an additional something like ‘…just visible’ or ‘now’, or … I wonder what you think. Fondly, Michael
        .
        .

        Interesting commentary. As this is one of my many favorites, I’ll try to respond. 🙂
        .
        .

        ORIGINAL:

        early dark
        the cathedral visible
        only as windows
        .
        .

        Michael’s suggestions?
        .
        .

        early dark
        the cathedral just visible
        only as windows
        .
        .
        early dark
        the cathedral visible now
        only as windows
        .
        .
        early dark
        the cathedral now visible
        only as windows
        .
        .

        If I stretched the original phrase out as one line:
        .
        .
        the cathedral just visible only as windows
        .
        And as a sentence:
        .
        The cathedral just visible only as windows.
        .
        .
        I am not sure I’d call this phrase I’ve shown as both one line and a sentence seems to work fine. There is no abruptness to my eyes or ears.
        .
        .
        If we incorporate the rest:
        .
        .
        early dark the cathedral just visible only as windows
        .
        .
        We know it can’t work well as a sentence though, and that’s because of the ‘cut’ where the verse is two pieces “placed” together or “put side by side”.
        .
        .
        I see that the evening has closed in early suggesting a transition from the long daylight hours of Summer, to the few daylight hours of Autumn.
        .
        .
        I see both capturing the purpose of stained glass windows which glow in the dark when the church lights are on. A kind of electric window display/advertisement. We see only the windows, not the rest of the builidng. In fact the building is obscured, from a distance, and we can only know it must be a building because of the lit up windows. Just as we might see far away, out in the countryside, a glowing window suggesting a house or cottage.
        .
        The cathedral becomes its own negative space, just as the poem shows negative space without too much telling, and mostly showing.
        .
        .
        I’m tempted to add the poem to my feature and spotlight on negative space:
        http://area17.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/negative-space-in-haiku-writing-poetry.html
        .
        .
        You said:
        .
        “the phrase would be stronger and flow better with an additional something like ‘…just visible’ or ‘now’, or …”
        .
        .
        ORIGINAL:
        .
        early dark
        the cathedral visible
        only as windows
        .
        .
        Of course the poem could be written many ways, and if I take your suggestion, I can create other versions, such as:
        .
        .

        early dark
        the cathedral
        just visible
        .
        .
        I feel, although it’s certainly the current popular version of minimalism, leaves out the heart of the poem.
        .
        .

        early dark
        the cathedral now
        only as windows
        .
        .
        Feels too telling, over telling, a bit bossy towards the reader perhaps?
        .
        .

        early dark
        the cathedral now visible
        only as windows
        .
        .
        It feels a little ugly visually, and using both “now” and “only” seems to be both overtelling and perhaps patronising the reader by being overly directive?
        .
        .

        early dark
        the cathedral now
        visible only as windows
        .
        .
        Hmmm, a little ugly, and feels odd perhaps?
        .
        .
        early dark
        the cathedral now
        visible only
        as windows
        .
        .
        Feels clunky to me.
        .
        .

        early dark
        the cathedral now
        only as windows
        .
        .
        Sort of works, but feels more like a statement than a poem.
        .
        .

        early dark
        the cathedral
        now
        .
        .
        Might work for those who love super minimalist haiku, but feels too clever, with not enough heart. And the subtext feels reduced down to wordplay.
        .
        .
        An interesting journey created by your suggestions.
        .
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        I feel the original has the cut, the act of splitting the small verse into two smaller segments, often considered vital for a haiku. I feel it has heart, and the layering, as in different meanings and suggestions on closer readings.
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        .
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        ORIGINAL:
        .
        early dark
        the cathedral visible
        only as windows
        .
        Karen Hoy
        .
        .
        I like how ‘visible’ and ‘only’ work together to suggest more than just a big building showing light through its windows at night.
        .
        .
        In fact reading it several times now, due to your interesting challenge, I see other depths to the poem. As more and more churches and cathedrals are locked at night, is a place of spiritual solace and safety reduced to looking at windows from the outside now? Or is the person having a crisis, either of religious faith, or just of society? That line “only as windows” can be read either as a suggestion of the beauty of artwork of stained glass:
        http://saltairedailyphoto.blogspot.co.uk/2018/03/modern-stained-glass.html
        .
        or
        .
        The building is only windows, with no access through its doors.
        .
        It is of course also a literal description of a religious building at night, and that Autumn has come, in a literal seasonal sense. But the two parts together seem to suggest more and avoid making a statement.
        .
        I certainly look forward to the commentaries next Friday! 🙂
        .
        .

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