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re:Virals 213

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

     only a drawing
     of a labyrinth, only
     the moon’s pull
          –Mark Harris, Noon 8 (January 2014)

For Radhamani Sarma, the artist enters and exits from deep attraction:

The  first  two lines — “only a drawing /of a labyrinth” — emphatically abound with so much compressed meaning. Possibly, the artist, painter, or a creative writer draws or sketches or visualizes a labyrinth, implying many designs and layouts.

The second and third lines — “only/ the moon’s pull” — takes us to another aspect: A visual image of the moon’s attraction. In the artist’s view,  after the final round, going deeper into the labyrinth, there is a lady love or lover shining cool on the surroundings. The image of the moon with its pull is the attraction impacting the speaker.  

It could also mean that by the time artist has completed his sketch, his involvement is so deep and undistributed, that  it is like a cool night with a cool moon and awaited by the lady love.

As this week’s winner, Radhamani 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 214:

     a blade of grass
     between my fingers
     father’s whistle        
          – Rachel Sutcliffe, Human/Kind Journal, Issue 1.2 (February 2019)

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. The most interesting word here in the poem is – drawing
    Because: drawing is a sketch
    but we also can be drawing water out of a well…

    and then we have the word: pull @ only the moon’s pull

    A labyrinth has only one way in which is also the only way out, unlike a maze. Which means, that it is a rather meditative journey as one weaves towards the centre and away from it and finally back into the centre. After which one tries to find the way back out.

    The pull of the moon: tidal or gravity or astronomical. If it is a covered labyrinth, then the light of the moon is the beacon that guides us back to the outside.

    If I were to say that the inner ear which is the labyrinth contains fluids that control the way the physical body maintains its balance.
    And if the moon were to dictate the way the fluid responds, then it would be something like vertigo.
    But I did not really say it…( I have merely thought it out and typed it…)
    And that is too far-fetched for me, ( even me…)

    my fav. way to read this is to look at the left over linguini on a plate in moonlight … the moon shining on the porcelain of the plate as I try to unravel the puzzle.

    It is an emotion that I am hearing in the poem, it is definitely not an Escher work of art … and that said, what makes me sad is that if it is possible to let the moon draw me out of the labyrinth, because it holds my mind even though it is just a drawing, it has drawn me in, and I need the moon to pull me out

    how did I arrive at this? By reading the pattern or style in which Mark Harris pens in Burl.

    And no, I do not need to understand the reason for the poem to arrive, just glad that it did and I am here, reading and sharing … I feel the need for a kind of resilience to walk my way out of the process …

  2. That blade of grass that my father taught me and which I am now passing on to mt grandson. Rachel at her timeless best. What a gifted and humane writer we lost in Rachel.

  3. .
    only the drawing
    of a labyrinth, only
    the moon’s pull
    –Mark Harris, Noon 8 (January 2014)
    I wanted to point out that in the published version of this haiku, the first line reads
    “only a drawing”
    seemingly a small difference, however even a small difference in the article can change the interpretation/reading of the haiku.

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