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re:Virals 457

Welcome to re:Virals, The Haiku Foundation’s weekly commentary feature on some of your favorites among the best contemporary haiku and senryu written in English. This week’s poem, chosen by Jennifer Gurney, was:

     
melted glacier
the first and the last dip
into its own water
—Yasir Farooq, 
 Fresh Out: June 1st, 2024.

Introducing this poem, Jennifer writes:

This short poem by Yasir Farooq got my attention. Its circular nature appeals to me, as does it being about nature and human nature, simultaneously. So in that regard, it strikes me that Farooq’s poem can be read as both a haiku and a senryu. I like that duality. There’s really quite a lot going on in only a couple handfuls of syllables. I look forward to seeing what others see in this sparkling poem.

Opening comment:

Commendably detached, and imbued with the Dao, and more than a little recursive, this verse is a reminder of how even a majestic and seemingly solid structure that has endured for perhaps thousands of years can be reduced to its shapeless essence. In the current context we think of climate change; but glaciers have been melting since the Ice Age.

We are sixty percent water — more, in the case of those dear organs, the brain and the heart; and water is the stuff of life, the origin of it, and most of what’s left apart from dust or ashes when it ends. And, as I have been thinking of Chiyo-ni’s verses lately, it reminded me of the dew on the rouge-flower, which, when it is spilled, is ‘only water.’ This vast, imposing and powerful structure, the glacier, is likewise ‘only water’ when its magic is lost.

In addition, Yasir’s poem may prompt reflection on how, like the glacier that is gradually dissolved in and by itself,  we have within ourselves the makings of our own eventual dissolution.

A few more technical observations in the Footnote.

Leena Anandhi:

A poignant verse. Sad is what you feel at the last dip as there is no going back. This could be a statement of natural fact. A tragedy of melting glaciers pointing us to the perils of global warming or just a subtle warning begging for change. It could on the other hand just be a holding hands and taking us to the mountains and showing us a visual treat. Whoever thought a haiku can be a vehicle to convey such weighty themes?

Dan Campbell:

The poem employs striking imagery to evoke a powerful visual and emotional response. The image of a glacier melting captures a moment of profound transformation. A glacier, often seen as a massive, enduring entity, represents something constant and seemingly unchangeable.

The themes of change, impermanence, and finality are deeply woven into the poem. The idea that something as grand as a glacier, which has existed for millennia, can come to an end, prompts a reflection on the fleeting nature of all things.

The poem captures the bittersweet nature of change—how every end is also a beginning, and how loss is an integral part of the natural order. The poem’s stark simplicity and profound depth make it a moving reflection on the cycles of life, both in nature and in our personal experiences.

Lakshman Bulusu:

A white cloud remains white till it melts into rain. Metaphorically, this haiku might portray a person leading an “existent” life (the glacier) suddenly hitting a great opportunity taking it into his hands and turning it into a rewarding experience. And reaping the benefits for the first and last time before it’s gone (melted) by getting transformed into one that mingles with other “waters”. One that no longer exists as special and specific to him or her—just like a white cloud remains while it has melted and become rain.

It could also mean a saint waiting for a sacred experience by taking a dip in
“holy waters” by way of his spiritual transformation. This lasts for the time the “holy waters” remain holy before mingling with the waters surrounding it and hence no longer holy for the saint—again like a white cloud that remains white till it is melted and gone.

I love the way the words are chosen, “melted”, “first”, last”; and rhymes -“glacier” and “water”.; simple and subtle.

Melissa Dennison:

I am writing my response today in a heat wave so I have lots of empathy for this melting glacier!

On the surface (no pun intended) I see this haiku as reflecting the nature of time and change. Is it a call to arms? A clarion call for us to sit up and take notice of what is happening all around us? We see and hear a lot about the climate crisis, and we watch the news or nature documentaries that reveal the extent to which we are impacting our planet. Ice in retreat is a recurring theme, whether in the polar ice caps or in the shape of glaciers. The world’s glaciers are shrinking. Of course ablation is a natural part of a glacier’s life cycle. This is a seasonal phenomenon. However, as our climate continues to change, and the thermostat ramps up then our glaciers are no longer in balance, as less snow falls and melt increases. This has implications for us all, since glaciers are vital in supplying fresh water, being the source of rivers like the sacred Ganges, influencing the course of human societies, their history, religion and culture.

Glaciers are dynamic entities, constantly changing and on the move. They have played a significant role in Earth’s history. For instance, where I live in Yorkshire there are many characteristic U shaped valleys, all sculpted or carved by glaciers on the move during the last ice age. Drop stones left by the glacier provide interest and have amusing names like ‘erratic’. The history of this part of the world is shaped by glaciation.

This poem has another meaning, perhaps a spiritual or philosophical one in that the melted glacier is experiencing itself for the first and last time, the first and last dip in its own water. It is undergoing a process of change as we all do in life. This is an experience we can all relate to. It is the experience of life’s journey which has a beginning and an end. It raises several questions as I read, for example, how does the first dip feel? Or the last? What is it like to be transformed from one form to another? Will that form one day change too? This feels like an ongoing story.

I enjoyed this haiku then, melting as I am in the heat of the day. I found it thought provoking on many levels.

Oh how I long for an ice cream…

Amoolya Kamalnath:

A shasei of a glacier, of the ice, being the solid ice and melting into water, melting into itself in another form, the liquid form.

I had to think a lot as to how to express what I understood of this poem. I don’t consider this meaning to show my dislike of the verse or that the poem hasn’t done it’s job. I could very well picturize it in my mind.

Somehow, this took me to a foetus in an amniotic sac where the foetus has amniotic fluid all around from its formation until its delivery. Even though being another entity, the foetus is one with the mother through the umbilical cord.

I also see the origin and end, life and death, in this ku. How a being emerges into life (water at the source) and then goes through the various roles and stages which hardens the person (the ice form in the glacier) and then as the time advances, slowly mellows and melts and merges with the earth (becomes water again).

Richa Sharma — a glacier becomes invisible:

Writing short Japanese poetry enhances the use of human senses to perceive natural phenomena and landscapes in our environment and within ourselves. It is not only about the higher moment that enters consciousness, but it can also be a moment of a slow change that suddenly makes its impact visible in that ‘moment of moments.’ Haiku’s briefness allows us to effortlessly highlight the issue with enough ‘ma’ to develop the wisdom of ‘kokoro.’

This ku makes one sit in the geologist’s chair and explore and accept the beautiful discoveries of science, apart from the emotional and cultural interpretations of identity based on traditional stories. It’s essential to comprehend the formation of a glacier and its impact on nature and human societies, as it transports and transforms landscapes.

In the first line of the poem, the emphasis is on the ‘melted glacier’, not the ‘melting glacier’. The choice is significant as the poet is probably nearing the end of the consequences of a process that is not yet visible to others. From my perspective, it may also convey society’s indifference and shallowness towards an individual. The word ‘glacier’ evokes solidity, color, fear, movement, and conversion, leading to dynamic fluctuations that are difficult to predict unless studied carefully.

The second line may imply that a glacier’s visibility is advantageous for humans. Many processes, both natural and man-made, are not visible to the naked eye or sensed by any of the senses. For example, our senses cannot detect radioactivity. It also appears that we are just emerging from the Ice Age. Climate change has brought us to where we need to admit the truth about the consequences of indiscriminate human activities and resource exploitation. The impacts of sea-level rise will lead to changes in biodiversity, which will in turn affect how water functions for human societies. Ironically, the fluctuations are such that glacial melt can not only lead to floods and landslides, but also lead to water shortages eventually. Furthermore, are we wise enough to recall ‘the first and last dip’ into our psychological landscapes? This is the function and magic of time.

The poet intends to bring the word ‘glacier’ closer to the human mind. This helps to dispel the notion that something that is so far away or from the past doesn’t have a profound impact on our everyday lives or the future. The impact of a poem, in my opinion, also lies in encouraging readers to travel and experience nature’s beauty and fragility for themselves, just like Bashō’s visit to Sado Island. It’s possible that a mention of a specific glacier could have been appreciated. But the poem may have evolved from the poet’s deep, sublime need to identify with an almost disappearing and inaccessible, majestic glacier as a metaphor. It’s a constant reminder that the ‘loss of ice’ is not the disappearance of conscience, but rather its transformation and further movement. It is the aim of art, literature, and science to recognize that we are insignificant but still a part of nature’s glory. The poem appropriately unites all the glaciers, human societies, water resources, and landscapes within the poet’s mind, suggesting through ‘kokoro’ and intuition that Mother Nature’s dynamic vision is insurmountable.

Author Yasir Farooq:

The inspiration for the poem is a short video clip capturing a melted glacier’s final moment. I composed the haiku in the context of climate change, the global concern.

Besides, the poem can also be read in a broader perspective of human faults and misdeeds that finally result in their own ‘Khalas'(The End). Another interpretation is mortal life, life of any thing, even a glacier’s life. For this, in the phrasal part of the haiku, I tried to take the readers to the atmosphere of tragedy which prevails when a Being meets its ultimate fate.

My thanks to Fresh Out, Jen Gurney, The Haiku Foundation and commentators for considering the potential of this poem.


fireworks image

Thanks to all who sent commentaries. As the contributor of the commentary reckoned best this week, Richa has chosen 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. All with respect for the poet. Out-takes from the best of these take their place in the THF Archives. Best of all, the chosen commentary’s author gets to pick the next poem.

Anyone can participate. Simply use the re:Virals commentary form below to enter your commentary on the new week’s poem (“Your text”) by the following Tuesday midnight, Eastern US Time Zone, and then press Submit to send your entry. The Submit button will not be available until Name, Email, and Place of Residence fields are filled in. We look forward to seeing your commentary and finding out about your favourite poems!

Poem for commentary:

     
far from the tree
firm opinions
on the best apples
—Lisa Billa, 
The Heron's Nest Volume XXVI, Number 2: June 2024

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.


Footnote:

Born in 1976 in Karachi, Pakistan, by profession, Yasir Farooq is a teacher of commerce who intermittently enjoys teaching English as well. He writes: “I have been into poetry since my teenhood, then it was Urdu Ghazal, now it is English Haiku. To me, nature itself is a haiku, a hymn, and a therapy. A number of online and print journals and anthologies have published my haiku and senryu. One was nominated for The Pushcart Prize in 2021. A collection of my Urdu poetry was published in 2010.”

Miscellaneous (and possibly mischievous) thoughts arising:

1. Without season: I see Yasir’s verse as a seasonless haiku although it might pose difficulties for kigo purists, as ice is held to represent one season, while melting is another, and finally, ‘melted’ has a distinctly warm, summery feel.

2. In the past: with “melted” the verse is also essentially in a past tense. It would be stretching the argument to distortion, to regard a melted glacier as still in the present, or that the mention of ‘its own water’ implies a continuing present: it could be any time, even completely in the past. But there is still a connection with the ‘now’ via the poet. One can argue tenably, whatever the tense in which a verse is written, an experience may have been in the present or the past when it was observed; but it is in the present when the poet writes it; and when a future reader reads it, the episode may be well past, but the verse extends it into the reader’s present. Apropos haiku dealing with a memory, Michael Dylan Welch writes: “It’s not the recency of a moment that matters, but its vividness. Besides, the moment something happens, it’s history—and really, all haiku are little moments of history.” English Language haiku based on memory alone were, until fairly recently, frowned upon by some; but I think that that discussion is now over, and they are broadly accepted. Occasionally, somehow forcing a remembered or past experience into the present tense seems unnecessarily contrived; less authentic. Although I confess to being a great fan of Damon Runyon’s narrative style.

I should note that Michael goes on to support the use of the present tense when writing haiku whether or not the experience is in the present or the past. This seems right: except that I suggest exceptions could and should be made — and precedents exist both ancient and modern — where a past tense is more natural to the meaning. I think ‘the present’ moment should not be a hard-and-fast ‘rule.’ In his translations, I note that Blyth quite often rendered haiku in a past tense where old verb modifiers such as ‘keri’* or contextual clues put them in a recollective mode.

keshi saite sono hi no kaze ni chiri ni keri
A poppy bloomed,
And in the wind of that day,
It scattered and fell
—Shiki tr Blyth

sôan wa nomi ka ni karite netari keri
I borrowed my cottage
From the fleas and mosquitoes
And slept
—Issa tr. Blyth
(however, despite the ‘keri’ Lanoue renders the verse in today’s present:
borrowing my hut / from fleas and mosquitos / I sleep
I ask you which is the more natural? Did  —does— Issa write in his sleep…?)

Ayu kurete yo rade sugiyuku yowa no mon
Presenting the trout,
I did not go in, but went on:
The midnight gate.
—Buson tr. Blyth

…and some modern poems in the past tense have been published, for example:

A moment ago
There was just one icy star
Above that mountain
—Richard Wright
(The verse is in the past, but the poet remains in the present. This single-sentence haiku essentially leaves a cut at the end inviting the reader to add the juxtaposition, in the present, that ‘now there are billions’)

War stood
at the end of the corridor
—Hakusen Watanabe tr. Ban’ya Natsuishi
The War
in the dark at the end of the hall
it stood
—Hakusen Watanabe tr. Dhugal Lindsay
(A diehard supporter of the present in haiku could argue, I suppose, that ‘The War’ is still, as the poet writes, ongoing and in the present; or that war is ever present; but that seems stretched)

in the beginning
he was just pretending
to sound grumpy
— John Stevenson, Frogpond 45.1
(this is consistent with the present perfect tense, and the single-sentence verse with its cut implied at the end invites the reader to provide the juxtaposition with an implied: “but now…”)

the mother my summer died
—Susan Antolin, Mariposa #49, 2023 and Touchstone award winner.
(I think this is convincingly in the past, but the recollection is in the present).

Raymond Roseliep on past tenses: “Although the moment-at-hand is going to lead most of our haiku into the present tense, I see no reason why the past tense shouldn’t be enlisted when the poem simply works better that way. The past need not rule out immediacy. Haiku of Bashō, Buson, Issa, Shiki, and Company offer an abundance of past tenses, many of them astonishingly effective.”This Haiku of Ours. Bonsai 1:3 (19 July 1976)

I whispered of death
one winter night in a voice
we both never knew
Raymond Roseliep, Haiku Journal 1977

3. How long is a ‘haiku moment?’  We are not dealing with ‘a moment’ here in Yasir’s verse. Not only does a glacier’s considerable age lend vast depth in time to this poem, but its melting does not happen in a moment. Indeed, the poet has marked the time-frame with ‘first’ and ‘last’ moments in what can be a matter of at least weeks, if not years.  And there are many masterly precedents for haiku that deal with the timeless, with eternities and their truths:

"no memory no me        " 
—Jim Kacian, Pareidolia, April 17, 2016
kokoro shizuka ni yama no okifushi
peace for the heart life in the mountains
—Taneda Santoka tr. John Stevens (okifushi is "daily life")
autumn leaves 
rarer than gold 
in the universe
—Jeffrey Ferrara, Mainichi Nov. 29, 2023 in best of year

There are frequent current examples of haiku poets using various devices to suggest a passage of time: a way of ‘getting round’ the in-the-moment stipulation.   If you have to employ some device to ‘get round’ a ‘rule’, shouldn’t the rule be called into question sometimes?

Are we to disqualify the likes of Yasir’s verse as haiku for breaching these conventions of season, of the present, and of ‘the moment’ with which the genre is laden? Or are we to regard the conventions with a tolerant eye, able to see and to brook their flaws, regarding them as no more than helpful conventions, and not as unbreakable ‘rules’?  Keeping  an open mind.

4.  Verses derived from TV or video (or photographs):  Yasir’s own comment raises the question of  vicarious experience through media  as contrasted with the poet’s direct and real presence in a scene, with all senses open…  I have the feeling this could be a discussion for another occasion.

Your views or corrections on any of the above would be welcome.


*keri
One of the uses is given in Jisho dictionary as:
けり
Auxiliary verb
1. indicates recollection or realization (i.e. of hearsay or the past); can form a poetic past tense. ​Archaic
Auxiliary verb
2. indicates continuation from the past to the present. ​Archaic

A Japanese colleague, a translator into English, notes that ‘keri’ is used in the present perfect continuous tense (comment: as in “I have been asking around”), but adds that in Japanese, past and present is fuzzy, and that modern haiku poets seldom use ‘ けり’.

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This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. “I like your neutrino, and will use it if I may as an example for a prompt on science I’m conducting elsewhere this September. Also now appearing in the footnote to tomorrow’s re:Virals…” – Keith

    Thanks, Keith! And use it as you wish, where you wish. I’m honoured. I’m pretty sure John Stevenson (Sabaki for that renku) would be pleased, too.

  2. melted glacier
    the first and the last dip
    into its own water
    —Yasir Farooq,
    Fresh Out: June 1st, 2024.

    To me, a melted glazier is the same as a melted ice-block from the fridge: water, apart from size. Obviously a melted ice-block becomes a much smaller quantity of water than that of a melted glazier.
    If the glazier is only partly melted, I suppose we could say it dips into its own water (into itself ?). Which brings up the question: ” Does a glazier (or an ice block) , melted or not melted, have a self? ”

    Well, Nicholas Virgilio famously had a lily with a self to be out of:

    Lily:
    out of the water…
    out of itself.

    1. I appreciate what the author is attempting here. I do. But I cannot clearly apprehend it as the haiku is written. It begins with a “melted glacier”. I suppose an area of water might remain, if the glacier had occupied a depression in the earth in which it would, when melted, be pooled. I can see that. At this point, it is not a glacier. I may only be saying what Lorin said, but what then is dipping? The glacier is gone. And if “dip” means something approximating “contact with and comprehension of something which no longer exists in its former state”– why first and last?

      I wish I could be more clear about what I am not seeing here.

      1. “I wish I could be more clear about what I am not seeing here.”

        I know the feeling, Meg. Sometimes as we journey upwards there are clouds to pass through. Perhaps you might find clues in Peter Yovu’s commentary at the end of Haiku 2024, Modern Haiku’s pick of the 100 best of last year, including likeable verses to muse upon such as:

        out of the wormhole tangled up in blue Alices
        —Lorin Ford

        tipping alone
        to lonely
        broken tulip
        —Brad Bennett

        Among Peter’s illuminating comments: “It will not be easily grasped.” … “I get it. I don’t get it. I don’t have to.” … “Coffee helps.”

        I often find that letting a verse sit quiet for a while in the mind helps. It can become part of the acquis of one’s frontal lobe even if it remains inscrutable.

        Would Yasir’s verse be easier for you if L1 read “melting glacier”? Is the problem one of tense alone?

        1. Thanks, Keith–

          To put it directly, I take “melted glacier” to mean just that. In trying to understand the haiku I might come to make an adjustment, to see a melting or almost completely melted glacier, but really, I don’t think knowing (or guessing) what the
          author is trying to get at is ultimately useful. I believe that is taking “co-creation” too far– beyond interpretation into re-writing.

          1. As so often, it is a matter of personal meaning, personal taste, and not (I think) something about which to try to lay down hard-and-fast judgments and rules. Where you draw the line at readers entering a poem and using it for their own meanings is up to you.

            Your co-critic VPJ has noted that “so many have derived so much from this haiku.” That counts for something, surely? Or are you looking for some undefined, absolute, literary poetic value beyond the effect a verse has on readers? If so, what? And what universal criteria would you suggest we all apply to identify such poems?

          2. “To put it directly, I take “melted glacier” to mean just that.” – Meg Halls

            Me, too. (-L) A glacier that has melted is no longer a glacier, it’s water, as simple as that.
            I suspect what is intended is that the glacier has begun to melt. This old ex-ESL teacher suspects the word ‘melting’ instead of ‘melted’ might make sense.

            “I believe that is taking “co-creation” too far– beyond interpretation into re-writing.” – Meg Halls

            I absolutely agree with you here, Meg. (I’ve always been a bit sniffy about ‘co-creation’ as it’s used in haiku circles and have more than once wondered out loud if ‘co-creation’ is more like interpretation of a Rorchach test image than good reading.

            (Also, due to reading comments on haiku and renku verses on-line, I’ve become allergic to the word ‘Wonderful’. )

            “Your co-critic VPJ has noted that “so many have derived so much from this haiku.” That counts for something, surely?” – Keith

            How many is so many, Keith? How many have derived how much from this haiku”? I’m sure VJP is being nice but the sentence continues to the more relevant : ” . . . I don’t know how to read it”.

            And your own response, Keith, is “I just move on if I’m unable to construe a particular micropoem: some I confess are unintelligible to me. ”

            as for my:

            “out of the wormhole tangled up in blue Alices”

            …have at it :-) I’d be delighted.

          3. “out of the wormhole tangled up in blue Alices”

            Presumably nostalgia for the fashion choice of Roosevelt’s daughter another world ago? — Alice Blue. Crossed with Alice Through the Looking-Glass (a felicitous choice for this conversation!)

            Or is that my over-interpretation?! 🙂

            I enjoyed it. A welcome change from cherry blossoms, Grandma and ‘letting go.’

            P.S. And congratulations on its selection for MH’s Haiku 2024, Lorin.

          4. Thanks for taking me up on that challenge, Keith. :-)

            “Presumably nostalgia for the fashion choice of Roosevelt’s daughter another world ago? — Alice Blue. ” -Keith

            Yikes! No!!!

            I have to admit I’m not familiar with USA Presidents’ families’ names (apart from Jackie Kennedy, of course) let alone their fashion choices. Was Roosevelt’s daughter really called Alice Blue? Anyway, anything to do with USA Presidents certainly wasn’t intended. I’m Australian. I owe my education to Gough Whitlam, & of current USA Presidents-to-be I most definitely prefer Joe Biden. ( but I don’t get to vote about that issue. )

            Ah, but re USA influences, I’m one who whole-heartedly applauded & celebrated when Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature (USA). He most certainly is a poet. (from long ago memory: “I’m a poet, I know it. Hope I don’t blow it”.) I loved him, his words, from the ’60s. And who could forget his “Tangled up in Blue’? Not me. That’s the American influence. Not Presidents, but a poet, a brilliant one, who sang his poems.

            Of course any Alice who goes down a hole or comes up out of one would be, I imagine, immediately related to THE Alice, heroine of the stories by the brilliant Lewis Carrol (by any other name) As for actual wormholes, there are enough in my yard to keep the (imported by the English, but harmless, domestic and friendly) blackbirds happy. Then there are the other sort of wormholes that Dr. Who magically navigated and scientists have speculated about.

            Blue Alices? Plural? Well, this ku was intended to be ekphrastic. There was an Australian painter whose work I like a lot: Charles Blackman. His ‘Blue Alice’ portrait is his homage to Lewis Carrol.
            https://learning.qagoma.qld.gov.au/artworks/the-blue-alice/

            So, a brilliant English story writer, an brilliant American poet/singer and a brilliant (in my opinion) Australian painter: to me, they converged. Can I say this ku is a homage to these three even if it’s tangled up a bit?

            I feel most honoured that Peter Yovu and Scott Metz selected this ku of mine for ‘Haiku 2024’. Will be getting the book soon. I have ‘Haiku 21’, edited by Lee Gurga and Scott Metz and have felt lucky and honoured about having some of my ku in that. Having this ‘blue Alices’ in ‘Haiku 2024’ is the icing on the cake.

          5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_blue

            Maybe we should have a Rorschach Blue?….

            wormhole:
            noun
            1.
            a hole made by a burrowing insect larva or worm in wood, fruit, books, or other materials.
            2.
            PHYSICS
            a hypothetical connection between widely separated regions of space–time.

            I took both meanings: a connection with another world or age; and ‘bookworm’ for the Lewis Caroll.

            Just goes to show, dunnit? Those pesky readers…

            Haiku 2024 is full of interesting verses, and with an enjoyable (or should I say wonderful) commentary by Peter at the end, with which I am sure VPJ and Meg will be wholly in tune.

          6. O, dear, Keith. What a little research will do. ‘Alice Blue Gown’ wasn’t something I was aware of. But that’s all right: she can now become one of my blue Alices. :-)

            Wormholes?

            a neutrino
            passes through the chestnut
            and the worm, too

            (— Lorin Ford, a verse from ‘New Calendar’, a renku led by John Stevenson from January – September 2017. Still in the THF Archive of Completed Renku.)

          7. Reader co-creation, see!

            I like your neutrino, and will use it if I may as an example for a prompt on science I’m conducting elsewhere this September. Also now appearing in the footnote to tomorrow’s re:Virals…

  3. So many have derived so much from this haiku, but honestly, I don’t know how to read it. What is the first and last dip? Does it speak of the first and last swim someone takes in melted glacier water? Is the dip something the glacier does? I am baffled. Not for the first time, I admit. Please help.

    1. Thank you for commenting, VPJ. From the Old English dyppan, a borrowing from the Old Germanic *dupjan, along with ‘deep’, dip has acquired many meanings and usages from culinary sauces through land contours to stock prices, but I suggest the meaning you might find most useful here is the main one of ‘immersion.’ Dip has the merit of being shorter by two syllables and plainer than immersion. No personification nor presence of a person is necessary, but equally there’s no reason why a reader may not imagine some foolhardy soul taking a swim under a plunging glacier. An extension of dip to dippy can also mean somewhat crazy.

      Although some readers and fine poets may argue that an element of literal incomprehensibility is one essence of poetry, I just move on if I’m unable to construe a particular micropoem: some I confess are unintelligible to me. But there are plenty more.

    2. Dear VPJ,

      This is what creates magic. How does a reader interpret the first and last dip? The word ‘dip’ also reminds me of the Titanic, which sank gracefully into the Atlantic, reminding us of the fragility of life. By reading a haiku, we are able to connect with many other poems that we may not be aware of. Japanese poetry is especially known for this network of poems. There is also a linkage to folk tales, mythology, etc. Glaciers have been especially a powerful symbol in cultural folklore and history. There’s so much that I don’t know, and for now it’s a new thing that is at once puzzling and charming.

      Warm regards,
      Richa

      1. Thank you Keith and Rich for your help.

        It is still elusive to me, but I will look at it again another time.

      2. The structure of a glacier is studied at different stages of development in different parts of the glacier. The ‘dip’ is a technical term used with respect to a process called ‘foliation.’ Can you imagine how the ku is making us all focus more deeply on the ‘glacier’ in our minds? It’s not just a random use of the word for writing a poem. In my opinion, this is one of the objectives of haiku— to isolate a word and connect it with its image. For me, this is part of the creative process.

        Also, one can imagine what must have happened between ‘the first and last dip.’ It has been said that most people who see a glacier for the first time won’t be able to recognize it from a distance on a mountain. So, how visible are things to us? For the mind, a photograph is not sufficient. ‘the first and the last dip’ may be connected to the concept of time related to the formation of glaciers. As a layperson, it’s impossible to notice ‘the first and the last dip’ although ‘the dip’ is also a continuous process. This is a new for us. Connecting a geological process to a moment is our lives is not an easy feat. This juxtaposition is a good metaphor for our internal landscapes. What does a momentary immersion under the surface mean for me? Again, ‘dipping’ under the surface has several interpretations related to our experiences, interactions, and existence in the physical world. We don’t realize the first dip until the last one. And what must have happened during the ‘interval’? I like that the word ‘melted’ adds to the loss of this awareness of what is happening within us when the mind becomes a part of an experience. It’s similar to imagining the concept of time on a cosmic scale.

        Warm regards,
        Richa

  4. My heartfelt gratitude to Jennifer Gurney, the introducer. I appreciate the commentators Leena Anandhi, Dan Campbell, Lakshman Bulusu, Melissa Dennison, Amoolya Kamalnath and Richa Sharma. Richa’s chair of geology is useful for exploration.
    Many thanks to Mr. Keith Evetts who penned substantial examples in favor of past tense and haiku moment. His indepth knowledge is commendable.

    1. Thank you, Yasir. It’s an interesting poem with plenty to think about — well done.

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