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re:Virals 215

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

     all the ways
     to find a meaning
     autumn sun
          — Marietta McGregor, Wales Haiku Journal (Autumn 2019)

Radhamani Sarma notes the effects of the autumn sun on all life:

The first line, “all the ways,” leads to the second line, “to find a meaning,” implying flora, fauna and humans are in search of the sun’s warmth during autumn. In autumn the leaves and changing colors have a special impact on all. The autumn sun taken in its totality adds a flavor and newness.

“all the ways” implies a journey of despair, a soul in despair, or a dejected lover, even a poet, cozy in his chamber. Perhaps the poet is inspired by a morning coffee, looking through the window, into the mist or towards the tender sun peeping through. He has a new lease on life, seen in the fast-changing colors of leaves, all impacted by the autumn sun, a beautiful image in our day-to-day life. For each of us, autumn’s sun has its own meanings to interpret from our own perspective.

Cezar Ciobîcă observes the poet meditating in the autumnal stage of life:

This wistful ku seems to leave a bad taste in the reader’s mouth and invites him to speculate. A meaning for what? For the irreversible passage of time which, if we reach a reasonable age, causes us to meditate on our lives, to run in search of lost time, to recall those beautiful moments that have filled gaps.

“all the ways” shows despair, but not resignation. Maybe it’s about grief, a distress that has left deep traces in the the author’s soul, and that’s why he continually looks for a sense which would alleviate his suffering. Furthermore, the autumnal sun with its diminished power and hues of rust suggests a wabi-sabi atmosphere, that imperfect beauty which blooms at the edge of nothingness.

As this week’s winner, Cezar 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 216:

     speed of night
     somewhere beyond the big bang
     i am a unicorn
         — Dietmar Tauchner, bones, no. 4 (2014)

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Wanting to fill the void left between the two emists, I would say that everything returns to the present, to the “here and now”: until someone is able to write even a single fragment of poetry. It is not important to know or want to be there or not to be there, but only “to feel” to be there.
    Very interesting and suggestive.

  2. So interesting that the two who commented both found sadness and despair in this poem by Marietta McGregor. My reaction was just the opposite, that life has so many levels of meaning and the poet, having reached her autumn years, continues to explore paths to different meanings even in the fading light of the autumn sun. I see from Marietta’s comments that this is not far from her intended meaning. It just shows once again that half of the creative process in any poem lies within the readers who can find so many different levels in a single haiku. Thank you Marietta for your poem and thank you Radhamani and Cezar for your comments.

    1. Hi Peggy, I did not think of it as sad at all. Rather I saw myself/ the speaker/ someone sunning herself under an autumn sun: just enough warmth to warm the chair and the person, just enough warm to let the person journey back into memories and queries and understanding and perspectives… an autumn sun is always a welcome …it is not the bleak sun of winter…
      and for once, i did not want to mention the autumn years of life, everyone suns herself in the sun patch under an autumn sun, even the cat that was a kitten yesterday …

      1. Pratima, I love the sense you’ve found in this haiku! it makes me go back and read it again!

  3. Dear Editors,

    Not sure how I go about submitting for the daily haiku post. I would very much like to submit the following hokku:

    autumn horse . . .
    along this path you become
    my eyes

    1. Hi Veronika,
      I believe you are asking about the Per Diem poems that appear at the top of THF’s web page each day. Please note that there is no submission process for that feature. Each poem is part of a monthly, themed collection created by a guest editor.


  4. May I take the opportunity to thank first, Marion Clarke for doing me the honour of selecting my haiku for discussion in re: Virals. And I would like to thank those haijin who took the trouble to comment. You have come up with some perceptive insights into my haiku, thank you. My haiku originally appeared in Wales haiku journal as part of a photo-haiku, or shahai. The image with which it was juxtaposed was of a beautiful birch tree with curling bark, which I photographed in deep autumn. The bark was exfoliating in layers, one upon the other, back to the smooth trunk. For me it called to mind the way we may read life’s experiences in certain ways at particular times, then, as more and more layers are peeled back either through our own understanding or others’ revelations, that meaning may continue to change, until it may becomes very different to the initial understanding. And of course, that understanding deepens with our advancing years. While it was set in autumn, it was not necessarily intended to be a sad haiku, merely reflective. Thank you again, Marietta

    1. Thank you, Marietta, for sharing your notes about your haiku. It’s always insightful to read background from the point-of-view of the poet. The pairing of the poem with the photo sounds quite effective.


    2. hi,
      I did like your poem and have a better understanding of it now that you have told us how you composed it, Marietta. TY

    3. Thank you Marietta for sharing your thoughts. You’ve helped me get a better handle on my response to this lovely haiku.

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