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re:Virals 326

Welcome to re:Virals, The Haiku Foundation’s weekly commentary feature on some of the best contemporary haiku written in English. This week’s poem, proposed by Theresa Cancro, was

     lattice window —
     the lacemaker pauses
     to gaze at the moon 
         — Hortensia Anderson, tinywords (2004)

An imaginative haiku with season, light and space, from a detached viewpoint (are we inside the room, or outside observing the lacemaker through the window?). The line structure has balance. With the em-dash kire, and the natural half-pause after “pauses,” it sounds similar to a 5-7-5. Counting in English stressed feet, I make it 2-3-2. There is assonance in lattice/lace; maker/moon; pauses/gaze. These sounds tie the phrases across the verse. Craft aside, the reader has space for the art….

In the word “lattice,” Radhamani Sarma finds thoughts of something needed on which to climb, and of the gaps in lace, through which beauty is viewed as the lacemaker toils through the night. Lakshmi Iyer considers the poem simple but with some meaning in depth, and likewise pictures the lacemaker finding time to gaze through flimsy curtains to view the moon dressed up in lattice. She imagines how we sometimes see the moon through branches; a “broken moon.” Would the poet have considered a version with “lattice moon?”

Nick T takes a quiet moment:

Reading this poem, I get a feeling of solitude and wistfulness. There is a lovely connection between the lattice window and the skill of lacemaking which both involve intricate patterns and attention to detail. For me, this gives the poem a gentle, tactile quality.

Although being set at night, there’s a sense of light in the darkness with moonlight shining through the window and I also sense quietness, you could literally hear a pin drop.

Why did the lacemaker pause? I can only guess at the reason, but I love the way the poem prompts me to do this. Whatever the reason, by pausing the lacemaker is caught in the moment, no doubt transfixed by the moon’s beauty. Perhaps for an instant all his/her worries are forgotten and, dare I say it, could the lacemaker even be inspired to compose a haiku? After all, what better subject than the moon through a window!

Peggy Bilbro’s imagination is inspired:

What a perfectly balanced haiku Hortensia Anderson has given us! The lattice window repeats the open weave of the lace in the hands of the lacemaker, while the silver moon picks up the delicate white color of traditional lace. As she gazes at the moon, she sees it in pieces through the latticework, just as one might see the world through a lace curtain. In my mind I see a lacemaker from several centuries ago, still laboring into the night to create a thing of beauty for some wealthy lady to add to her collar. Her pause interrupts her creative work as she absorbs the natural beauty of the moon. We know as the poem tells us that this is just a pause, that her labor will continue, perhaps till the moon has set or even till the sun rises. It is possible that this short pause will give her inspiration as she continues with her lacemaking, maybe even incorporating her view of the moon into her lace. I love that this short poem gives my imagination inspiration to fill in her story.


A close call. As this week’s winner, Peggy 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 send your commentary in the Contact box (“Contact” in the top menu bar) 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 327:

   composing ourselves a perfect circle
             — Peter Jastermsky
                 Failed Haiku: A Journal of English Senryu 
                 Volume 6 Issue 71, November 2021 

Footnote: Hortensia Anderson died in 2012. You’ll find information on her and her work on the web and in THF archives, including:
Living Anthology – Hortensia Anderson
Simply Haiku – interview with Hortensia Anderson
THF Book of the week – The Plenitude of Emptiness

I particularly liked this entry in the anthology:

    moonlit night —
    the pond floats
    a water-lily
    —"I consider this my absolute favorite.  I can't provide original publication credit as it has been repeatedly rejected.  I don't care.  I love it." ~ Hortensia 

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Thank you Keith for selecting my commentary on this lovely haiku. Your additional comments add to understating of the poem. You are off to an excellent start! I hope to see many interesting comments on re:virals.

    1. Thank you, Radhamani – and for all your contributions. And – season’s greetings – let’s hope the auspices for 2022 are good./

  2. re:Virals 326:

    lattice window —
    the lacemaker pauses
    to gaze at the moon
    — Hortensia Anderson, tinywords (2004)

    Thanks to Haiku Foundation for this insightful write on window
    and lace, lace maker. It is but essential as man and mankind need
    support or to cling to something or somebody inevitably, in this world
    most of the times, similarly plants also need support to climb, hence
    lattice window .
    The term, first line, beginning, “lattice window-“ a visual image drawn here,
    sparks many a vital picture in our imaginations; shape and purpose,
    modality and operation etc.; constructed by owner either by string or wood,
    knit with barbed wire made up of iron enabling large holes with a broad
    view to look up.

    The second line “ the lace maker pauses/ leading on / to gaze at the moon/”
    makes us wonder who is this lace maker? A designer who weaves or knits
    a lace, either for decoration, or encircling the structure, or fence.
    Poet implies, gaps are such that the lace maker looks above, to have a glimpse
    or gaze at the moon; so beautiful, so shiny to view.
    Another viable inference is that the lace maker’s act of interlacing lace continues till night, he pauses to gaze above aura of moon light.

    1. Thanks, Alan. I am reading my way through all the old re:Virals posts, now up to #147, and getting educated; they are a fine resource.

      Season’s greetings to everyone.

        1. Alan: Absolutely. It’s enlightening to see commentary by experienced poets, but I’m also interested in how a haiku gets across (or not) to a fresh or less schooled audience. I hope they would not feel inhibited from commenting. Perhaps you could encourage one or two of your students to think of analysing and commenting? A great way to develop understanding of this fascinating genre.

          1. Some of the best feedback I overheard was from families who never or rarely read poetry, and to hear them give critique about haiku at my Christmas market stalls, as they didn’t know I was the author of many of them, was incredible. I actually found myself leaning forward to catch and learn!


  3. Happy new year.
    My hearty congratulations to Peggy Bilbro.
    while going through your analysis, I recall the following lines,

    “In my mind I see a lacemaker from several centuries ago, still laboring into the night to create a thing of beauty for some wealthy lady to add to her collar.”
    Very insightful and how lace adds up to furthering his likes, future.etc.

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