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re:Virals 284

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

     open page
            shadow of the poem
                     leans forward
                          — Karen DiNobile, Frogpond, volume 36:1 (2013)

Radhamani Sarma finds hints for the reader:

Thanks to Karen DiNobile for giving us powerful writing, stretching the imagination of readers far beyond their ambience. The poet, while composing a poem, its theme, image and plot, in the formative stage, believes somewhat that the telling or showing is shadowy. The poet is still not able to decide what to write, how to present or construct; hence, a shadow dominates in outline form. The first line, “open page,” leading on to the “shadow of the poem” adumbrates that it is not filled in; there’s no flow. The reader chances to imagine the possibility of theme, or technique, in his own way.

Another viable inference is that the reader is positioned in such a way, slanting the page, that only the shadow of the poem can be read; it leans forward. Also, perhaps designers of the book have printed the poem so that only a shadow leans forward, which could be attributed to printing technology. In libraries on old book shelves, due to the aging process, the books lose flavor and their fresh aura; the print becomes blurred somewhat, hence the shadow. Moreover, before printing technology, handwriting, such as it was, slanted, from right to left, and with the passage of time, only the blurred figures now appear. Yet another view is that a poem, which has an illustration, is hiding, projecting the shadow of the poet’s lady love or figure, whom he hints at.

It could also be that, in the opening pages’ introductory note before a lengthy poem, the poet gives readers a hint, or shadow, leaving options of interpretation to them.

Lakshmi Iyer leans into the shadows:

A new day with an open page. The poet starts her day with an open mind with no idea whatsoever of writing any haiku. But, then lines two and three speak of the shadow of the poem leaning forward. We can pause to wonder: If there isn’t any poem, where does the shadow come from? Yes, it’s a clear, the beautiful morning with shadows leaning in front of us.

Here, the poet has the image of the poem in her mind, almost ready to be posted. Sometimes, our inner conscience clicks with images to be written, though we may do the writing sometime later in the day. But here the shadow of the poem leans forward to have the writer place it on the open page.

Well in advance, Karen has used the shadows to post her poem and, with a minimum of syllables, has captured the most beautiful aspect of life: “Live your life with an open page.”

As this week’s winner, Lakshmi 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!

The Haiku Foundation reminds you that participation in our offerings assumes respectful and appropriate behavior from all parties. Please see our Code of Conduct policy.

re:Virals 285:

     Vedic chants . . .
     a heron glides to a rock
     in the misty lake
          — K. Ramesh, The Heron's Nest, Vol. 10, No. 2 (2008)

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Vedic chants . . .
    a heron glides to a rock
    in the misty lake

    “Vedic chants” introduces a spiritual world of expanded consciousness; the chants represent the “utterances of god”. But the second line introduces the Heron who sets itself upon a rock for rest. Chants create a spirit connection, uplifting to the gods while the bird descends, rather than ascends, and sits on something very earthly, creating a juxtaposition. But in yoga, there is a pose called the Heron. One purpose of Yoga was a path to enlightened consciousness. As well, birds in Hindu tradition often have spiritual meaning, sometimes referring to the soul. In particular, the heron can symbolize tranquility. The third line introduces the lake, In Hinduism, lakes can be sacred, as a manifestation of god. They are also resting places for the gods and even portals to the spiritual world. The lake is tranquil, with mist above. The fog is caused by the rising of warm air. In all three lines we are given the sense of tranquility and calm. The first and last give a sense of ascension.

  2. A shadow is only caused by light. Perhaps the light of this writer’s life, his muse, is standing behind him, leaning over, causing the shadow on the empty page.

  3. Thank you Radhamani and Lakshmi for your comments on the poem I selected and also thanks to Dmitri for additional comments. I chose this poem because I loved the feeling of urgency projected by the shadow of the poem leaning forward, anxious to be written, just waiting for the poet to bring it to life. It is a feeling we have all had. The poem is there, behind us and overshadowing us, demanding that we find the right words to bring that poem to life.

  4. open page
        shadow of the poem
                    leans forward

    Good idea. Could’ve been done better. Looks like notation waiting to find its best expression.

    I like the idea of a poem’s shadow arriving before the actual poem, drawing the writer in.

    I don’t like the omission of an article before “shadow of the poem”. Paul Williams wrote convincingly about this, calling it
    “tontoism”. The Japanese language may not use articles, as such, but the English language does.

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