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re:Virals 324

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

 
     midwinter
     the emptiness 
     of acorn caps
          — Bryan Rickert, Wales Haiku Journal (2021) 

Greg Schwartz scans a desolate scene:

Bryan drops us right in the middle of this poem with no fanfare. “Midwinter” evokes a sad, desolate landscape — barren trees, very few birds or other animals to be seen, and everything shaded a dull gray or dirty white.

This desolation is amplified by the empty acorn caps. Acorns contain seeds, which traditionally represent hope and rebirth. However, the lack of seeds here reinforces the theme of barrenness — the winter landscape is dead, with no rebirth in sight.

It’s not uncommon for haiku to lack punctuation, but in this case it accentuates the narrator’s forlorn tone, enriching the image. A fully fleshed-out scene in just six words.

Nick T combs through the sensory details:

An interesting poem which really appeals to my senses. As it’s set in midwinter, I can feel the cold and picture the bleakness, perhaps a woodland covered by a blanket of snow. I can hear the crunch of acorns underfoot, and there’s the damp, musky smell of trees in winter.

There is a melancholy about this poem, with the phrase “the emptiness/ of acorn caps” suggesting something which has no value and has outlived its useful purpose. Perhaps the poet is grieving following a loss or suffering distress for some other reason.

Although it is a sad poem, there are also signs of hope. As winter gives way to spring, the acorns which have dispersed from their caps will germinate and take root, and nature’s cycle of life will resume. Hopefully, the poet will also be able to move on from his grief and sadness to happier times.

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As this week’s winner, Nick 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 325:

 
     varied thrush
     between notes
     the unwavering light
          — Jeff Hoagland, tinywords 20.1 (2020)

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Congratulations to Nick T. The following lines are, really worth noting
    expressed in beautiful wordings.

    There is a melancholy about this poem, with the phrase “the emptiness/ of acorn caps” suggesting something which has no value and has outlived its useful purpose. Perhaps the poet is grieving following a loss or suffering distress for some other reason.

  2. re:Virals 324:

    midwinter
    the emptiness
    of acorn caps
    — Bryan Rickert, Wales Haiku Journal (2021)

    Thankfully reading a wonderful senryu by Bryan Rickert, veering
    on acorn caps. It is all about natural process of acorns shedding caps
    in winter; season and segregation, process and progress -in acorn
    when caps are shed -are depicted. Beautiful to look at, acorn nuts possess nutritious value with a rough exterior called caps.

    Not only for human beings, aging, ailing, aged, winter, cruel winter is testing time; but also for plants, seeds and flowers, withering winter, a symbol of shrinking, and shedding, foil to growth and spread and greenery. Caught in cruel hands of winter, biting cold, chilled by frost, plants and beings, unnerved, without any move, until a progressive vision turns them all. Similarly, the haiku poet visualizes, acorn in its empty status, cap worn out, or shed,
    could be winter’s doing, mid winters’ toll upon acorns. So long, hard and sturdy cupule now weaning away in winter. Impact of season on acorn well depicted; Nature not only as a healing nurse, a consoling mother, a therapy, but also at times, an agent of impacting cruel change, on plants as on human beings.

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