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re:Virals 145

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

 
     crow's inner circle
     the dark part of my eye
 
          — Stephen Toft, Is/let 

Hansha Teki cites Hughes’ mythic trickster:

Stephen Toft’s ku hit me as if it were a newly discovered annotation in my copy of Ted Hughes’ 1970 book, Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow (Faber & Faber).

Anyone familiar with Hughes’ Crow will know well Crow’s elemental manifestation of all that is blackest in ourselves and the world we have fashioned for ourselves sealing our membership of Crow’s inner circle.

Toft succinctly brings “Crow blacker than ever” and our shadow selves eye to eye.

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As this week’s winner, Hansha 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 145:

 
     dark sea
     surging to the brink
     of words

          — Eve Luckring, The Tender Between Ornithopter Press (2018) 

This Post Has One Comment

  1. crow’s inner circle
    the dark part of my eye
    .
    Stephen Toft
    First published: Is/let (APRIL 29, 2018)
    https://isletpoetry.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/1853/
    .
    .

    Crows are at once both gregarious and cliquey, while highly intelligent and intuitive. I should know, one of them saved my life once. Crows have amazing eyesight, and can recognise from an incredible distance individual humans who have either been helpful or spiteful: Coupled with an excellent memory, it pays to be a responsible human, especially as crows pass on the information to other groups of crows.
    .
    The first line neatly connects with the second line, when inner circle is read alongside the other part of the eye.
    .
    Regarding that second line, the dark part of our eye, physically, is a hole, and the red of the eye (retina) stays within a certain amount of darkness: You’ll see the actual red eye in some flash photography. The pupil is a hole in the centre of the eyeball, allowing light to enter, passing through the lens and connecting with the retina, which is light sensitive, that lines the inside of an eyeball.
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    More and more I witness that people, in all areas of life, and that includes me, should open up our eye holes, and hearts, so the darkness of the eye doesn’t reflect and absorb just the current and increasing darkness of world events.
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    The lack of an article in the first line…
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    crow’s inner circle
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    …may make some of us think of Ted Hughe’s Crow: http://ann.skea.com/Trickstr.htm

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    And we even call the wrinkles around our eyes by the name of crow’s feet. So I feel the verse has a lot of humour and wordplay, overt, covert, and subvert. Conversely, the second line, with an article, could sound sinister or judgemental, about ourselves, but perhaps it’s a call to go from dark to light, in our outlook, our lives etc…
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    But all in all, I just love ‘crow’s inner circle’ and its Hughesian touch jostling along with ‘the dark part of my eye’
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    That line “the dark part of my eye” makes me want to read a parallel version where dark is a verb, so that I read “the dark part” and then is it the dark part my eye, or part the inside of my eye, or they, the crows, of dark colour, part my eye, and make me see at least as half as clearly as they do? It’s a lovely fun feeling of words conjuring up more for me as a reader, as a participant.
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    The poem also appears in Stephen Toft’s recently released Deer Heart collection by Yavanika Press as a free PDF: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/21d2c2_d365c439370649008a51445119cbcbe1.pdf
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    Stephen Toft travels a wilderness, adding warmth to shadows and wrestling with rainbows in the havoc of daylight. In life we may well encounter enjambments, and not just on paper: This author engages us with his deeply poignant and mysteriously mythical poetry.
    .
    .
    Alan Summers

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