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re:Virals 216

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

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

Theresa Cancro considers the vastness and timelessness of the universe:

For me, there is a sense of wonder that pervades this haiku, yet Dietmar Tauchner conveys it with a light touch. At first, I wanted to read Line 1 as “speed of light.” However, “speed of night” emphasizes the briefness of a single night and by extension how short our lives are when placed beside the vastness of the universe and time. Then, we have mention of the “big bang,” that cosmic event that created all — the stars, the planets, our Earth, ultimately us. “i am a unicorn” beyond this event could be interpreted variously. I’m seeing the infinitesimal ways the “big bang” could have gone such that anyone, anything for that matter, might have ended up in their present state as a unicorn (although what is “present”? One could write a whole piece on that alone!). The infinite possibilities allow for anything, even a fantastical beast.

Sanela Pliško delves into the possibility of parallel universes:

I love space-themed haiku! L1 makes me immediately think about the speed of light, the speed of darkness, but just as it says – it refers to the speed of night, the absence of the day. Where am I? In L2 I am already just “somewhere.” When and where, “a place” and “time,” as we know them, have not yet been born and it would be impossible to know. Why beyond the Big Bang? I can only suppose that “beyond” is a time reference, and only this orientation gives the author the possibility to be, who he chooses to be, in L3. In any other position, he would be someone or something else. There are many theories about the origin of the Universe, about what happened before or after the Big Bang, and L3 makes us aware that the author chose a theory that supports parallel universes. One of the infinitely many possibilities about where and when each of us is someone or something else, or when or where we can also be who we are now, but maybe a nanometer taller. By not choosing a specific image, person, object, but a “unicorn,” it further expands the inexpressible possibilities of existence in which we can also be characters of our imagination. Maybe, in another universe, I am just a question mark at the end of this sentence?

virus2
As this week’s winner, Sanela 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 217:

 
     Peter's Pence -
     the village priest arrives 
     in a new luxury sedan
          — Djurdja Vukelic-Rožić, cattails (April 2019)

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. .
    .
    speed of night
    somewhere  beyond the big bang
    i am a unicorn
    — Dietmar Tauchner, invisible tracks, haiku and quanta poems (2015)
    .
    .
    I have enjoyed reading all of the commentary on this haiku. Just a note – If google is correct, the original publishing credit should go to Bones no.4, June 2014.
    .
    .
    In my mind, the essential theme of this haiku is one of singularity and existence.
    .
    In the first line – speed of night – what is the speed of night? Unlike the speed of light, the speed of night is unquantified, on the fringe of language in an expanding universe.
    .
    In line 2 – somewhere beyond the big bang – the big bang is commonly thought of as a singularity, a reference to an instant where all the matter and energy in the universe was concentrated into a single point, coinciding with the birth of space and time.
    .
    In line 3 – I am a unicorn – a singularity in concept, which is all good, all beautiful, all wise, eternal, incorruptible, and in all other ways perfect, essentially, the definition of God.
    .
    Overall this haiku brings to mind Descartes ontological argument for the existence of God found in his 5th Meditation:
    .
    But if the mere fact that I can produce from my thought the idea of something entails that everything which I clearly and distinctly perceive to belong to that thing really does belong to it, is not this a possible basis for another argument to prove the existence of God? Certainly, the idea of God, or a supremely perfect being, is one that I find within me just as surely as the idea of any shape or number. And my understanding that it belongs to his nature that he always exists is no less clear and distinct than is the case when I prove of any shape or number that some property belongs to its nature.
    .
    .

    1. Thank you, princess k., for your insightful comments on Dietmar Tauchner’s haiku.
      *Please note that the journal in which it first appeared has been amended.

      -Theresa

  2. well…relatively speaking, Happy Diwali whichever timezone you people are…

    that said,

    it is a clever piece, layered and there is this humour there, …I am guessing that the poet might have been smiling as he wrote this

    when I say the poem is a clever one, it is in the word play and after play of things
    the night is the night here and has sped with the speed of light, now here and now gone, leaving the speaker reminiscing
    the big bang adds so much more clarity to the first line
    and the third line simplified things for me, with my thoughts drifting towards – A Midsummer Night’s dream. and how the speaker is just NIck Bottom with a horn – and the poet is just being Puck … 🙂 how invisible these mappings of the mind,
    but then what is an unicorn other than an equine being with a horn …

    I always wondered how we could write when haiku would intersect with quanta and this poem has been a good learning and smiling chortling

  3. .
    Big Bang
    a first time
    for everything
    .
    John S Green
    .
    In reading the various responses to
    .
    speed of night
    somewhere beyond the big bang
    i am a unicorn
    .
    — Dietmar Tauchner, invisible tracks, haiku and quanta poems (2015)
    .
    I thought of this poem I had written.

  4. Scott Metz wrote:
    *
    somewhere
    fireflies are
    eating rhinos
    *
    Tauchner’s poem is in that “somewhere” vein where anything can happen, one can be anything or anyone.
    *
    Metz’ poem was included in *Haiku in English*, but to me it is more a statement about how he
    approaches haiku: from the vantage point of alternate or impossible universes. In that regard, if one wishes to understand (some) of what he does, it is useful, though not particularly good poetry.
    *
    It seems to me that any number of words could substitute for “unicorn” in Tauchner’s work and make little or no difference. But then, you know, it’s an “idea” poem, it exists as a thought, and from that thought I can travel a ways. But a thought or idea needs to be believed, that is, it needs to dissolve into an inhabitable body. Does this happen, or does the idea simply move toward other ideas. It bounces around in the head that way, which may be its own pleasure, different than the pleasure of being a ripple on Basho’s pond.

  5. Sanela Pliško,
    Greetings.in your line by analysis, the following is
    quite striking.

    “One of the infinitely many possibilities about where and when each of us is someone or something else, or when or where we can also be who we are now, but maybe a nanometer taller…..
    with regards
    S.Radhamani

  6. Dear Theresa Cancro,

    “……However, “speed of night” emphasizes the briefness of a single night and by extension how short our lives are when placed beside the vastness of the universe and time. Then, we have mention of the “big bang,” that cosmic event that created all — ”

    in comparison our short lives — with speed of night, we are forced to read and re read beyond this.. well said .
    with regards
    S.Radhamani

    1. Thank you, Radhamani, for your note. I’m glad you found my perspective relatable.
      Best regards,
      Theresa

  7. speed of night
    somewhere beyond the big bang
    i am a unicorn
    — Dietmar Tauchner, invisible tracks, haiku and quanta poems (2015)

    Thanks for giving us a haiku by Dietmar Tauchner.

    This powerful haiku makes us wheel along the time zone of night and the persona’s flight into the situation. Beginning in the first line with words denoting “speed of night” giving further room for expansion that speed of night going beyond where, how and leading us to what. The persona either travels beyond question- amazingly striking in the dead of night.

    The second line “ somewhere beyond the big bang” makes us delve into big bag theory, its related issues. Interpreting as it is
    Down through the ages and eyes of scientist and theories, big bang is all about light and sound before expansion and how our
    Universe is expanding still. In a way the incompatibility of universe with the speed of night as measured or viewed by the speaker.

    The third line establishes a connectivity -he becomes a unicorn in speed. Man imagining to become a winged horse -from myth.
    The point of emphasis that he runs faster than the night; may be Out of fear for the darkening hour, competing with the night, he wears the horse image in unicorn running far beyond the imagination.

    1. hi Radhamani,
      yes, a horse carries one away and so does a unicorn…it is very dream like isn’t it…
      I cannot but help notice the space after somewhere …
      the timeline is most interesting, the universe began and we all are the somewhere beyond, …

      1. Dear Pratima,

        Your notes.. in the following…

        “I cannot but help notice the space after somewhere …
        the timeline is most interesting, the universe began and we all are the somewhere beyond, …”
        Very interesting.
        .

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