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re:Virals 293

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

 
     horse pasture
     the prairie wind moves
     with muscle
          — Chad Lee Robinson, The Heron's Nest, Vol. XXII, No. 4 (2020)

Lakshmi Iyer considers the poet’s use of close association:

The structure of any haiku is not only dependant on observation and experience, but also the visual effects which make the whole haiku vibrant with layers.

“horse pasture” sets the scene of large acres of grassland that provide healthy pastures of high quality.

Chad Lee Robinson seems to love the horses, literally owning them. He recreates events with a connecting second image in line two — “the prairie wind.” This takes me to my geography class, where I learned about prairies being part of temperate grasslands that strengthen the ecosystem. But the poet strikes a very serious note on the prairie wind that destroys most of the pastures, with dust storms storming in. Here, he uses “moves with muscle.” Usually, this idiom is used in a negative phrase, but here the poet has laid an icing —”the prairie wind moves/ with muscle.” This is the whole truth of what the poet has visualised, isn’t it? Personifying the prairie winds with the power of muscles shows the intense concern of the poet to protect the pastures of his dreams and subject: the horses!

The technique of close association is visible here with the horses, their pastures and the prairie winds. They are closely linked with each other, yet connected to the outside world to protect our ecosystems: the issues of global warming and the need of a pure and clean environment.

I appreciate, with due respect, the poet’s concern not only for the environment, but also for the animal kingdom. He has carved out the image with subtle sincerity and absolute truth!

Mark Gilbert uncovers the instinctive:

I find it difficult to write too much on an intellectual level about this haiku. Yes, it compares the prairie wind with a horse, a thousand pounds of muscle evolved to perform a few simple tasks very well. And like the way a single horse is dwarfed by the multiple horsepower of a single car, human machines are themselves dwarfed by the enormous invisible and unthinking strength of a single gust of wind, sweeping through the prairie and continuing over the earth’s surface to bend blades of grass and trees and to move water until running out of energy somewhere still to wink out of existence.

So, to me, this haiku is visceral, or even centered in the muscle itself, like the way a hand will instinctively recoil from a flame without wasting time, sending an electrical signal all the way to the brain and back.

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As this week’s winner, Mark 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 294:

 
     the dance
     of periwinkle buds
     it’s a boy
          — Isabel Caves, The Haiku Foundation's Haiku Dialogue (April 2020)

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Thanks to Lakshmi and Radhamani for your comments. I could have written a lot more about this expansive haiku.

  2. re:Virals 293:

    horse pasture
    the prairie wind moves
    with muscle
    — Chad Lee Robinson, The Heron’s Nest, Vol. XXII, No. 4 (2020)

    Nice to be away from tall buildings, cities, malls and clubs; not only visiting supermarkets, from the din and noise to be in a serene, farmland,
    Agricultural field, pasture where grazing is done. To be amidst of this natural
    world of wind and meadowland, no doubt your Muse on her heels ready to go
    and catch a topic for a poem.

    This week’s write, simple proceed of an observation of the writer, Chad Lee Robinson, sets the tune in a field of horse pasture, where grazing is done.
    Away from mankind, a land allocated for the seasoned horses and cattle, meant to be free and graze, in their own arena, their own free land, their
    undisturbed privacy. Mostly grassland, savanna tall grass .
    The second line leading on to the third, “ the prairie wind moves/ with muscle/
    depicts a different scene of action, where prairie wind stemming from grassland, typical enclosed arena, blows with a force beyond limit. The words “ with muscle” not only show but also force us into a sweeping force
    of power and speed – swept by the wind.
    Generally, we associate the word wind with several associations, like rhythms,
    music, symphony and flow and coir; but here this grassland swept by prairie
    wind with a force, could be that horses too run, along with the force; the muscles of horses in tune with the sweeping force, that, the poet hears sound
    hence, “with muscle” A part associated with sound structure, “ muscle”
    Another possible inference is that, while, horses graze, busy preoccupied in their own green scene, their mouths chewing, a silent act moving on,
    Yet another side effect is powerful sweep of wind with a muscle, could be
    Some horses run riot with the sweep.

  3. Dear Lakshmi,
    Your note, ” pastures of his dreams and subject” well said establishing a connectivity ;

    “Personifying the prairie winds with the power of muscles shows the intense concern of the poet to protect the pastures of his dreams and subject: the horses!

    1. Dearest Radhamani Madam

      Thank you so much for your feedback and coming from you is really encouraging. Your comments above are splendid too. Each poet have their own special way of looking at the poem and concern.
      Thank you.

  4. Dear Mark Gilbert,
    Greetings. I like the way, horse being dwarfed by horsepower of single car,
    subsequent observations about human machines etc, so interesting and all stem out of practical observations well portrayed, in this context.

    “And like the way a single horse is dwarfed by the multiple horsepower of a single car, human machines are themselves dwarfed by the enormous invisible and unthinking strength of a single gust of wind, sweeping through the prairie and continuing over the earth’s surface to bend blades of grass and trees and to move water until running out of energy somewhere still to wink out”

  5. Yes, I had written about this horse power that owns seven hundred muscles than compared to our three hundred, but, then erased it.
    Anyway, your day Mark Gilbert and I loved your version

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