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