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
velvet sunset where the wild roses grow — Iliyana Stoyanova, Blithe Spirit, Volume 30, Number 4 (2019)
Lakshmi Iyer visits a garden:
This is a beautiful poem by Iliyana Stoyanova. To get closer to the poem, I checked the place of the poet. She resides in St. Albans, where the “wild roses” grow, as in lines two and three.
Coming to the poem: “velvet sunrise” is beautifully placed with the juxtaposition of “the wild roses” in line two. The poet must have been influenced by the Hertfordshire Garden Centre. I just read this, and I quote:
“The freshest, purest roses you can grow are those which are closest to nature. Their delicate, natural flowers disguise a tough constitution: they grow almost anywhere and shrug off pests and diseases. And it doesn’t stop there: spectacularly beautiful brilliant red hips carry on the display well into autumn and winter.”
Truly, roses aren’t wild; they are tough. They don’t need the help of anyone. The botanical name of these hybrid roses translates as “species roses.”
The poet on a casual visit to this garden must have seen hundreds of velvet roses, which formed the sunrise of her day! So aptly and poignantly, the poet takes us across love and nature, what these roses personify.
Radhamani Sarma dips into contrast and color:
This week’s haiku by Iliyana Stoyanova is all about color and consciousness prevailing in the universe. Here, nature’s setting is tuned to an ordered pattern. Just as day and night, sunrise and sunset, darkness and light all comprise seasons and have geographical impact, they also influence man’s life, lifestyle, his mood and propensity for shift, often a shift for the better.
In the first line — “velvet sunset” — the poet’s imagination offers room for expansion as one image leads to another. A close observation leads to an admiration of many colors during sunset, depending upon its occurrence. From an orange orb to purple and velvet colors during sunset, what gifts galore! The sun rises, with its tender morn, with its white rays, growing into scorching heat at midday, slowly receding into evening, permeating with one possible white color. Sunset offers a wider spectrum of colors, a beauty dipped in His creation and dictum.
But then why “velvet sunset,” implying a silken, velvety texture, smooth and soft? Two contrasting ideas are depicted: the silken color along with the concept of sunset. This daily occurrence, well portrayed in the poem, is embedded with powerful imagination and symbolically adumbrates an idea of growth and fertility. There is also negation, or decline with age, almost to the point of nullification.
The second and third lines promote life and renewal, prospect and propagation, as suggested through “wild roses” and the depiction of growth, in the painter’s ebullient streak in a sketch, or even a writer’s pen. Many wild roses are depicted and envisioned.
Also, metaphorically, there is the idea of the persistence of life: Just as wild flowers grow at the rim or borders of fields, lanes, or ponds, at the tail end of life, a sunset and wild roses represent the nurturing, the will, and a keen desire to live and battle for some more time; the determination and courage to live.
Mona Iordan ponders a profound moment:
The haiku opens with a beautiful image, “velvet sunset.” We all admire that spectacular moment of the day on its way to the night. The colors of the sky, from gold to deep red, are profound, and the attribute “velvet” just accentuates the fiery hues of the sunset.
The following two lines suggest an indefinite location of the sunset — a remote, out-of-the-way land. There, the wild roses thrive in their plain, untrimmed, unsophisticated nature. They just “grow,” as emphasized by the placement of the word in a line of its own. Wild roses have not yet been tamed and subdued into thousands of cultivars planted in gardens and pots. Although they are wild, these roses may appear sumptuous in the sunset light. Besides, they must be red, as this is the predilect color for velvet.
In a different reading, red roses are a powerful symbol of beauty, passion and desire. Thus, it is also possible to conjecture that the phrase “where the wild roses grow” alludes to a well-known ballad by Nick Cave about loss and regret. In the music video of the same name featuring Kylie Minogue, the red rose is like a velvet curtain falling at the end of it all.
As this week’s winner, Mona 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!
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haiku editing a babbler enters the conversation — Neena Singh, Failed Haiku, Volume 6, Number 62 (2021)