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re:Virals 95

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

     morning wind
     the library 
     of fallen leaves
          — Anatoly Kudryavitsky, Horizon (Red Moon Press, 2016) 

Carol Jones is bestirred by the triggers of the poem:

The words have an ethereal vision, a subtle awareness of a mind full of knowledge, maybe. Our minds store massive amounts of data, much of it we forget about, but is still there, somewhere. In this haiku I think it maybe referring to memory loss. However, “morning wind” could read in two ways, the stirring up of many things forgotten, memories that have lain dormant for year. Music, a certain sound, or a conversation can rekindle thoughts of yesteryear, and the feelings that are attached to them.

And Danny Blackwell finds echoes from his own library:

A feature of poetry, often used in haiku, is to take advantage of the ambiguity offered by homophones. A typical example in Japanese poetry would be the frequent wordplay offered by matsu (待つ/松) which can be either the verb to wait, or a pine tree. Fortunately this example ‘englishes’ well, as the word pine is used for both a pine tree and the verb to pine — and it is often in this sense of yearning for the person that the poet is waiting for that it is used. I mention this because I am unable to see a short poem with the word “morning” and not hear, feel, and consider the word “mourning.” I don’t think necessarily that this is intended here, but the reference to fallen leaves would create an apt conjunction, as the wind through dead leaves is potentially a very mournful sound.

As always, every reader refigures the text they are presented with, based on their previous reading, and every reading is potentially new, even for the same person at different times. While I’m not enamoured of the library image in this poem, I am nevertheless reminded of a line from poem 10 of Pablo Neruda’s book 20 Love Poems and A Hopeless Song, which I offer in a rather Latinate translation in order to respect the original syntax:

Cayó el libro que siempre se toma en el crepúsculo.

(Fell the book that is always picked up at twilight.)

And suddenly the idea of fallen leaves and books — in this crepuscular light — intrigues me. And I ask myself, Where do our books go to die?


As this week’s winner, Danny gets to select the next 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!

re:Virals 95:

     *poem about disappointment but it’s only the word sea.
          — Mike Andrelczyk, Is/let, March 6, 2017.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Danny, you have a wonderful understanding of the poems. Your words are knowledgeable and are presented in a very gentle way, always a pleasure to read them.

    1. Thanks a lot. I’m always worried about being overly pretentious. The adjective “gentle” is very much appreciated. I try to walk the line between being technical but at the same time readable.
      I’ve been reading a lot of R.H. Blyth’ haiku commentary lately and he reminds me about the value of framing haiku in relation to other poems from other languages, which is why I included the Neruda here (although there’s no real connection between the haiku and the Neruda—other than the fact that Neruda is in my personal library and part of a network of references that pop into my head whenever I read anything new).
      I should probably add as a disclaimer that, while Neruda has some good stuff and is an intriguing figure, some of his poetry reads like bad Bon Jovi lyrics.
      Anyway, thanks for commenting. I really enjoy the challenge of haiku commentary. I’ve composed haiku for some years, but only very recently began to write about haiku.

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