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
Peter's Pence - the village priest arrives in a new luxury sedan, — Djurdja Vukelic-Rožić, cattails (April 2019)
Marion Clarke finds parallels to a local incident:
On first reading, I thought “Peter’s Pence” referred to a tale from folklore, like “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” or the tongue-twister rhyme, “Peter Piper.”
However, the association with religion in the next two lines brought back memories of church, and after some research I discovered “Peter’s Pence” is the oldest collection in the Roman Catholic Church, first mentioned in history as far back as 1031 and, in Ireland, dating back to Norman times.
However, lines 2 and 3 resonated, moving to Catholicism today in Ireland and the words of an elderly parishioner who informed me, “The new priest arrived on a motorcycle and has a yacht moored down at the marina.”
So, Djurdja’s last two lines could have been uttered by the same old lady, but I think “Peter’s Pence” raises the bar!
Cezar Ciobîcă recalls one of the seven deadly sins:
The poem proposed for analysis is a senryu that sheds light on how some priests deviate from moral precepts. Everyone knows that the greed, or love for money, is one of the seven deadly sins. What is shocking is that the churchman simply astounds his parishioners by appearing with a luxury limousine. Peter’s Pence should aid victims of war and natural disasters, displaced persons and migrants/ refugees, as well as educational centers, scholarships, orphans of war, etc. Maybe the clergyman forgot that his mission is to love and serve God, not money which can make us blind. Finally, what can I state further: don’t put the blame on him, ’cause he’s only human after all.
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!
end of summer the rust on my scissors smells of marigolds — Margaret Chula, The Wonder Code (2017)