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
straining to listen the crickets' first movement begins — Matthew M. Cariello, Daily Haiku (2010)
Radhamani Sarma imagines a rainy scene:
Delighted to view and comment upon this two-line poem by Matthew M. Cariello, whose observation of crickets springs forth from this senryu. “straining to listen,” gives us a clue that it is raining or wet, and crickets are drenched, perhaps unable to move or in a blind condition. Possibly, the sound of falling rain makes it impossible for the crickets to move, struggling to align their wings. “crickets’ ” causes us to picture a number of these insects, which we hear chirping. Here, the writer changes the direction, empowering crickets with the engine of listening.
In the second line, “the crickets’ first movement begins” establishes a connectivity with the first line, “straining to listen.” After being paralyzed in water, or in a static condition for some time, slowly their first movement begins, maybe after the pouring rain recedes.
To conclude, this senryu is all about a situation, the reaction of chirping crickets.
For Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă it’s all music to the ears:
We are dealing with a music lover who takes part in an outdoor show that is offered by crickets. It is obvious that the person is surrounded by noises which disturb the entire atmosphere; that’s why he makes a strenuous effort to listen to what’s next.
The second part of the poem sends us to classical music, because the structure “first movement” refers to an orchestral piece at the beginning of an opera (a suite, play, oratorio, or other extended composition). Usually, in a symphony there’s a structure called “sonata form,” which is simple, brisk and lively, and understanding it will enhance our appreciation of almost all classical music.
At the phonetic level, the alliteration (“s” combined with “t”) and the assonance (“i”) suggest perfectly the overture of the crickets, which celebrate to the fullest the joy of mating.
As this week’s winner, Cezar-Florin 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!
chill wind - the heart of an oak leaves the chimney — Robert Bauer (1953-2012) The Heron's Nest, Volume VIII, Number 1 (2006)