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Lofty Ideas in Little Poems

So, a couple of weeks ago I was discussing Japanese Haiku with some of the students at School. Talking about it, took me back to my school days and the various books and essays I have read about this economic verse form which made an indelible impression on me and captivated my attention at that time. To this day, the memories associated with those earliest of readings remains very strong.

When I first dipped my toes into the haiku pond I wasn’t quite sure about what to make of it. I was used to reading the verse of the greats. The works Wordsworth, Shelly and Keats (to name a few) were introduced to me early; Haiku on the other hand was a strange and odd discovery.

Gradually, as I began to unravel the beauty of these petite poems, I realized the true power that lay within those few words. The feeling that I got from haiku was true gladness to have discovered a manner of expression that simply just feels right because it did not tell me how or what to feel as much as simply giving me the unique chance to get there on my own terms and in my own time.

The brevity of the haiku was a refreshing change from the wordiness and excess of the poetry I was reading at the time. It was entirely refreshing to me that the writers were utilizing the fewest words possible – to convey the most poetic and profound messages through the most ordinary of experiences.

Over the years, the excitement died out and it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I realized exactly how much I love this verse form. I’ve discovered that reading haiku and finding good poems can and will spark my interest and get me going and reinvigorated again. Reading a great haiku is bound to revive anyone who has at any time felt the magnetic pull of this genre of verse.

 Let me be very honest. Some haiku leave me baffled. I don’t know how to make head or tail of them sometimes. They puzzle me and leave me with a whole lot of unanswered questions. Yet I find many other haiku beautifully crafted, pleasant and even inspiring sometimes. Like this one.

 Temple bells die out.

The fragrant blossoms remain.

A perfect evening!

 Matsuo Basho

As much as I enjoy the writing process, it is only through the wordiness and excess that I was talking about earlier; that I am able to express what I’m feeling. The succinct verses of haiku encapsulate deep meaning within three lines – now that’s amazing!

When you read a haiku, the possibilities of the interpretations are infinite. You cannot expect to have someone explain it to you because, each time someone does, the interpretation will vary, and it will also make so much sense!  In a world where people are so busy and preoccupied, reading haiku is the perfect way to stay connected with the spiritual being inside you that finds it so difficult to surface in a normal work day. The beauty of haiku lies in the fact that with all its simplicity, it lightly touches the surface of philosophical matters that concern us all and makes us wonder, reflect and imagine, albeit briefly.


One comment on “Lofty Ideas in Little Poems

  1. Another art form for which we need to acquire the taste for… another gift from the Japanese!


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