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re:Virals 223

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

 
     deeper shadows
     where the walls meet...
     autumn rain
          – Mark E. Brager, The Heron's Nest, Volume XXI, Number 3 (2019)

Mary Stevens intuits the moods within introspection:

Outdoors, it is hard to see shadows on a rainy day. Inside, the gloomy fall day makes interior spaces dark, with the shadows literally darker in the corners of a room. A depiction of this keen observation would have been enough for a good haiku.

But there’s more. Our thinking, too, perhaps moves from a neutral introspection to darker thoughts about our real and potential losses, regrets, and limitations. It becomes boxed in. The fine gradations of shadows in a room perfectly represent the subtlety with which our mood can shift under restricted thinking.

Radhamani Sarma discerns symbolism:

A symbolic meaning, since walls are considered as dividing factors, is that during wars when armies clash, or after a cessation when peace is not restored, the tense situation could be construed as shadows. Hence, “where walls meet…” is inconclusive. “autumn rain” might be armies, weapons and clashing armies. The poet has converted the images of rain and armies with weapons in a dexterous way.

Lynne Rees steps into the human experience:

I imagine a corner, two walls meeting at right angles. I can see the depth of shadow there. If I reach out, I am sure the surface – rough brick or smooth masonry – will be cooler; perhaps because the autumn rain I now notice has started to fall.

The places where people meet are more emotionally complex, stepping, as we may have to, from the comfort of the familiar to the challenge of the unfamiliar. Those “deeper shadows” may be rich with empathy and gratitude. Equally, they may be fraught with conflict and umbrage.

Brager’s haiku shifts me from inanimate objects to human experience. I sense loss through the image of “autumn rain,” or at least an understanding, or acceptance, of inevitable change that results in something being left behind.

Perhaps change, even for the better, always leaves a small echo of sorrow, for what, or who, was once a part of us.

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As this week’s winner, Lynne 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 224:

 
     mountain wind
     the stillness of a lamb
     gathering crows
          –  Matt Morden, Stumbles in Clover, Snapshot Press (2007)

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Notan is the Japanese word for a depiction of an object in shadows and light
    It is executed in graphite or charcoal.
    Notan is the word that occurs to me as I read the poem

    Two words draw attention to themselves :
    Shadows which is more than one shadow
    And the verb : meet

    These are words of hope. It is not a poem of isolation or loneliness. It is about inside versus outside. Cosy as it reads even. I like the deeper shadows. Which means that the intensity of light varies
    Like candle light and soft laughter

    But what do I know. Blah!

  2. OMG Lynne Rees is here. Hi

    I love what you write. Just that for me, autumn rain is merely a state elemental rather than a feeling … a juxtaposition that brightens where the walls meet, shadows meet.

  3. The image (“deeper shadows where the walls meet”), so accurately and sharply given, certainly leads to metaphorical or symbolic interpretations but it remains central as a clear literal, physical image. I get the sense of enclosure, most likely indoors, in a room, just as Mary observes.
    .
    Autumn rain is often used to convey or emphasize awareness of inevitable things: ageing, illness, losses of various kinds and loneliness but here it seems to perform as a continuous soundtrack to thoughts that revolve around those “deeper shadows” in the corners.
    .
    In these deeper shadows in the corners there may be (metaphorically) things we’ve not looked at closely before but which begin to draw our attention now, psychological “deeper shadows”, perhaps thoughts that have accumulated into states of mind such as depression or hopelessness, or awareness of ” things ill done and done to others’ harm/ Which once you took for exercise of virtue.” (1)
    .
    Beginning to be aware of such psychological “deeper shadows” might be, in my view, a part of human experience that may eventually lead to understanding and acceptance.
    .
    (1) ‘Little Gidding’, from ‘Four Quartets’ — T.S. Eliot

    – Lorin

    1. Thank you Lorin for expressing so perfectly what I was feeling but wasn’t able to put into words. #Mark Brager this is wonderful, evocative poem.

    2. Lorin , maybe just me but somehow I see the walls as shelter , something offering solidarity , something not shaken by autumn rain which is seasonal

      I actually find it to be a place that nurtured from the elements snd darkening shadows which is in plural as a collecting of more than one.
      The rest I don’t know …but this poem will linger

  4. I see the darkness of humanity where those walls meet in Mark’s poem, with transactions being made, involving humans or drugs. A fine urban haiku.

  5. Dear Lynne Rees,

    Greetings, In your take, your well observed notes- loss and acceptance – are worthy of quotes.

    Brager’s haiku shifts me from inanimate objects to human experience. I sense loss through the image of “autumn rain,” or at least an understanding, or acceptance, of inevitable change that results in something being left behind.

    with regards
    S.Radhamani

  6. Dear Mary Stevens,
    Greetings. In your analysis, the mention of mood-shift, is interesting.

    “the fine gradations of shadows in a room perfectly represent the subtlety with which our mood can shift under restricted thinking.”
    with regards
    S.Radhamani

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