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
moss-muffled the woodland stream unravels my secret — Peter Newton, The Searchable World (2017)
Peggy Bilbro is drawn into the woods:
With his first line, Peter Newton immediately carries us into the magical, moss-covered world of shaded woods, where sounds are muffled and sunshine is gently filtered through the canopy. I could just linger on that moss forever, but I’m drawn further into the poem and into the woods by the stream in the second line. This isn’t a mountain stream that leaps and roars and tears at the rocks. It is a quiet, small woodland stream lined with moss that perhaps at times even disappears under the moss. This stream accepts and quietly weaves and unweaves the ribbons of water that wind through the woods. It is no wonder that secrets are revealed and unraveled in that unhurried, quiet setting. Perhaps the secret is a burden that is finally laid down, or perhaps it is the memory of a secret pleasure. The reader is allowed to decide which of their own secrets unravel as they open themselves to nature.
Lakshmi Iyer reflects on the hidden:
It’s so difficult to hide our secrets. So difficult to lock them within ourselves for many years, as one day, nature plays its own way to unravel what a human can’t do! Here, though, the poet has the secrets covered with moss. What about the woodland stream that doesn’t stop for anyone? The nature of water is its non-stop, continuous journey. Even if there are hurdles, it changes its course and flows incessantly.
I like the way the poet has used both of the images of nature. One as “moss-muffled”; second, “the woodland stream.” Both aren’t made for each other, yet they form a lovely haiku. Where one tries to hide secrets, the other reveals them in due course of time.
Wonderful and I appreciate the poet’s observation and brevity.
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!
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stone Buddha — all the blows that made him — Srinivasa Rao Sambangi, cattails (October 2017)