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re:Virals 251

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

 
     dusking inlet
     the gentle probe
     of furrows
           — Jan Benson, Runner-up, H. M. Haiku Column Contest (2018)

Radhamani Sarma peers into the furrows:

Simply a marvelous poem of beauty and probity in which Jan Benson attempts writing on agricultural issues related to furrows, ploughs and water. “dusking inlet” shows a situation where water seeps through small openings in a farming process, helping the tillage at a narrow, minimal level. The adjectival depiction, “dusking,” implies a gloomy, dark atmosphere and involves a slow process during sunset, or perhaps the coiling of water through the land. It’s as if the ebullient streaks of the writer’s pen take us along the inlet, an ongoing process, although it is dark.

What happens, what is bound to happen, what can only happen, is the outcome which is expressed in the subsequent poetic lines, the consequential second and third lines. With the limitation or formation of a water bay, there cannot be a fast plough furrowing the land, in tune with the silenced force or formation of gathering water. If ploughed by a tractor, a field would not absorb much.

Yet another possible inference is that in the sunset of one’s life, when youth fades and money dwindles, one is faced with gloomy prospects. Man’s avocation for matrimonial prospects or sexual indulgence is met with “gentle furrows,” even closer to being null and void.

Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă explores a moment of epiphany:

The poet contemplates the dusking seascape and the sky in unison and probably meditates on the passage of time because “furrows” can be seen here as a synonym for “wrinkles.” The overall image does not release any tension, fear, or threat, but, on the contrary, due to the adjective “gentle,”  highlights serenity, resignation, a reconciliation with oneself.

Maybe the author is an old man and what he observes makes him understand the right way of Zen. The dusk helps him to experience a kind of illumination: Life must not be lived with the mind (stress, pressure), but with the heart (joy, pleasure), with the spirit always alive, thinking positively and preparing our fragile soul for the next levels of our journey.

At the phonetic level, the liquid consonants in the second part seem to suggest the sound of water caught in the twilight or the smooth flow of clouds, inviting us to dream.

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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!

re:Virals 252:

 
     campfire
     sparks a galaxy
     between us
          — Rajan Garg, 2nd Place, World Haiku Contest (2016)

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. commenting on virals 252,

    Having an affinity to galaxies and campfires, this haiku sparks joy and connection in me.

    I feel the memory within my body of sitting in the black and starry night with the hint of faces and bodies across the fire circle, or for that matter, across the country or the world, or perhaps even the universe, and yet we are all viscerally connected in heart and soul.

    The crackling of the fire is the only word spoken or needed.

    I remember that the mapping of the creation of the galaxies is as to the creation of a child in the body of a pregnant woman; reminding me that despite so much conflict in the outer world there is harmony in the larger existence.

    Thank you for choosing this haiku.

    1. Thank you, Carol, for commenting on re:Virals 252. For their commentary to be considered and included in the next posting, participants need to submit using the contact box (Click on the red “contact box” above, which will generate the submission form.) However, I can copy and include your commentary with others I receive via the contact box. Just let me know.
      *
      Thank you,
      Theresa Cancro
      Editor

  2. I am sorry to hear of this writer’s passing. It makes me sad to say what I wanted to say
    before I learned of this. This haiku is just obscure for me. It does come into focus.

    I am sorry.

    V.

  3. I was so sorry to have missed this beautiful poem by my online friend, Jan. It’s still hard to believe she has been gone almost eight months. I miss her sense of humour in our contact via email and Messenger.

    Jan’s writing had developed a lot in the years before her death, and her choice of words had the ability to make the reader think. These were not poems that were likely to be forgotten. To be honest, sometimes I wasn’t exactly sure of the meaning of a particular poem, so I just enjoyed it for the sound and the way it made me feel.

    Jan was also a fan of senryu and some of the best work she produced was just before her untimely death. Here is a link to some that are featured in the Living Senryu Anthology.

    https://senryu.life/index-of-poets/80-index-b/benson,-jan.html

    In haiku ‘dusking inlet’, I pictured a scene of a bay at dusk. The fact that it is furrows of land that are probing the sea, rather than the sea encroaching on the land, made me think that the earth and sea were interacting, or even had blending. The word ‘gentle’ to describe probing is unusual, as one would assume it is an invasive verb. Here it feels almost welcome. The whole poem spoke of resignation and acceptance to me. And of course it makes me feel sad.

  4. I loved both the treatments this week, Radhamani and Cezar-Florin are clearly experts on this topic in their different ways.

  5. Dear Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă ,
    Greetings. In your comments and approach, the following observations so interesting with an
    emphasis on Soul

    “Life must not be lived with the mind (stress, pressure), but with the heart (joy, pleasure), with the spirit always alive, thinking positively and preparing our fragile soul for the next levels of our journey.”

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