The minute I heard my first love story,

I started looking for you, not knowing

how blind that was.

 

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere,

they’re in each other all along.

 

by Rumi

translated by Coleman Barks

“The Road Not Taken”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

~Robert Frost

“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

 

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

 

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

~Robert Frost

a bit more Haiku…

A fine haiku presents a crystalline moment of heightened awareness in simple imagery, traditionally using a kigo or season word from nature.

~Patricia Donegan, author of haiku mind. 

 

I love the world of hope that the simple ellipse brings to the poem below. Though the world is full of tears, there is that “yet,” that signifies some kind of light at the end of the tunnel…

     this world of dew

is yes, a world of dew

and yet…

~Issa

 

This one is one of my favorite haikus. I imagine a war-torn (what a dramaticly descriptive word: “war-torn”) land – dark and dreary – with a curtain of rain falling; pitted with craters and destruction. Night falls, and the skies clear, and suddenly a pool of stars is reflected in the craters, speaking of an expanse much bigger than any trouble on earth.

     after the rain

bomb craters filled

with stars

~John Brandi

 

This one speaks for itself.

     clear stars

in the cold night

after the planes’ roar

~Hideno Ishibashi

 

Here, one can see the seasons passing by; the bigger picture of time passing by, and no matter how we may try or want to try to keep it with us, it will escape our grasp…

     i catch

the maple leaf     then let

it go

~John Wills

 

The intensity of the moment when there is only you and the other, and your eyes follow the delicate petal down to the table, but you catch the gaze of the person sitting across from you. Love.

a petal falls

you

across the table

~Steve Sanfield

 

Haiku………I wish I could define it.

the wisdom of Basho

Basho.

17th century Japanese poet and master of haiku.

I’ve learned of him and his art in Creative Writing class a few weeks ago, and I bow to the master of this simply complex art. Here is some of the wisdom he has passed on the subject of poetry to peons like myself:

Learn about pines from the pine, and about bamboo from the bamboo.

Mmm… let nature speak for itself, then translate it into poetry.

The secret of poetry lies in treading the middle path between the reality and the vacuity of the world.

Is there any good in saying everything?

(Because in the art of poetry, the poet must say what’s unsaid…without saying it.)

When we observe calmly, we discover that all things have their fulfillment.

So true. The keen and (keyword) calm observer will discover things in stillness that the more irrational, hyperactive

The bones of haikai are plainness and oddness.

That last one smacks greatly of plain, odd truth.

     still alive

and frozen in one lump –

the sea slugs

~Basho.

(I told you he was weird. So did Basho.)

Another point about haiku.

Basho was NOT (obviously) a Christian. Keep this in mind while reading the following advice…

There are three elements in haikai. Its feeling can be called loneliness (sabi). This plays with refined dishes, but contents itself with humble fare. Its total effect can be called elegance. This lives in figured silks and embroidered brocades, but does not forget a person clad in woven straw. Its language can be called aesthetic madness.Language resides in untruth and ought to comport with truth. It is difficult to reside in truth and sport with untruth. These three elements do not exalt a humble person to heights. They put an exalted person in a low place.

As a Christian poet, we can add a new element to haiku: praise to the Creator of marvelous creation. This will inevitably change the mood from sabi to joy. The elements of humility and true that Basho speaks of are already (or should be) parts of the Christian life.

Thus…haiku is the perfect medium for praise!

I will praise Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Thy marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in Thee: I will sing praise to Thy name, O Thou most High.

(Paslm 9:1-2)