Willowdale Estate at sunset on a crisp Fall day.
It is a beautiful venue for weddings and other special events; my youngest daughter Sarah works there as the Marketing Manager. Driving up from Harvest Alabama to the North Shore area of Massachusetts gives one plenty of time to drink in surroundings; even at the dead end of Fall their is much to wonder at. Each season will hold its own places of beauty. Two brief pieces suggested themselves on my drive.
on and on
wing to wing
the ebon flock
a lone hawk
the hay-bales capped
While winter in the northeast will undoubtedly bring moments of dazzling beauty, as one prone to seasonal depression it is a bittersweet season. The sunnier (and much warmer) south suits my mental health in more positive ways. Below you will find the briefest of my offerings of seasonal Japanese forms; my inspiration tends to rise along with the lengthening days of spring and throughout the summer. Those days I'm much more apt to be outside beholding the wonders of God's creation.
squalling – black-tide skies
swirling – crystal walls
the winter storm protests
our plastic spruce
we pine for more
bright colors and
holiday cheer oft fades
just beyond the glitz
outlasting the seasons
a promise of hope
the village walkway
A collection of Haiku, Senryu and a Gogyohka of the Fall season; hoping you find something to stimulate your spirit.
-- PS -- These are meant to be savored, like fine dark chocolate; pause to reflect between each piece. :-)
apple trees picked bare
the colt of a chestnut mare
warm hued swirls
swept from west-south-west
tattered clouds streaming
this orange flitters east
…the butterfly rebels
a single leaf drops
walking the gloaming;
beating evening’s chill
the shelter feeding many
sluggish wasps, gray days
taking the last golden leaves
a wind chime tinkles…
the natter of old friends
Two new grandchildren will spark changes the lives involved in a myriad of ways. My wife has self appointed herself as a 'doula' for our daughter and her new son who lives nearby. This a task with great joys as well as challenges. Our newborn has evidently decided that the old order of riding warmly and comfortably in the womb is preferable to this largely inhospitable and relatively unstable world. Being placed down; away from warmth and food in a still and quiet environment is still so foreign an experience.
As Ruth and I discussed these things over breakfast this morning I was reminded of a poem I wrote some time ago. I contemplated the process of birth in a primitive setting subject to the varied winds of Greek mythology. I hope you can fin enjoyment in the piece.
By Ronald L. Kirkland © 12/22/2011
Boreas; the cruel north wind
– as ancients often say
Snatching warmth from hearth and heart
And heat from light of day
In its thrall – ill tempered by this low rude shelter
An erstwhile maid toils long over love's caprice
The infant's cleansed from birthing's visceral fashion
(parted out – the host, having passed its time sustaining).
Beasts afield consume this matter, removing scent
From that, so often blind and helpless
Soft things, that nuzzle and mewl
– the predator in mind
Primal fear well founded…
Gently pressed kisses, so small a solace for harsh reality;
This alien environment
And first... labored...
Fading now to whimpers
The day is won; morning mists are swirling – Aeolus' fitful jousts,
Eastward now the breezes lay, fume among its currents;
Tides of waxing Eurus,
Never long in comfort – but seldom holding malice
Creeping inward from the gulf, to wane with broadened day
To ample breast, aptly bared – the suckling child is drawn
Peace is bartered at her bosom, a mother's consolation
The toil of night near fading
Above the groping form she whispers
Exhaling blessings as a gift,
Her breath bequeathed as Notus
– warm and charming comfort
hymns of reveled life, a lullaby of Zephyrus
Summer has run its course and we enter the heart of autumn. It's been and eventful run from August through October with the addition of two more Grandchildren; Timothy and Elijah. My soul is blessed. There is so much to be thankful for as we past through the harvest season. Life is not always marked by the freedom from trials yet God gives much grace.
The butterfly Remains
By the Dying Worm
A Dying Worm – a Gogyohka
By Ronald L. Kirkland © 11/21/2010
The Haiga above was first published at DailyHaiga on 6/6/2013
A Digital Haiga ~ The photo is of an actual building preserved at a local state park.
By the last days of the industrial revolution ending the eighteenth century and into the early nineteenth, over a million children were to be found mining coal and staffing the mills of New England. I have been reminded of many more involved in the agricultural industries of the deep south. Doubtless less concentrated and thus less publicized abuses prevailed in many other places. Health and safety were of little concern, and no long term benefits were realized by these workers. As a society facing our own hurdles it is helpful to remember that each generation faced, and will face, trials in their own day.
Some time ago I made a modest investment of time to investigate English language Haiku and its closely related forms; being intent on ‘getting it right’. The one thing I learned with concrete certainty is that there is much
diversity of thought on the matter.
Exploring the ‘Eastern’ roots of Haiku and related forms reveal a diversity of thinking even from its earliest history. The historical difficulties involved in coming to a solid consensus on ‘exactly’ what elements of the forms were of primary importance to the various Japanese schools of thought were vastly compounded when the form (based on the Japanese language and steeped with its culture) was transported to English speaking countries.
The following may be considered the very basics, of the matter.
Haiku, Senryu and Tanka are closely related waka - Japanese forms best
described as ‘short form’ poetry. These forms saw a surge of interest bloom in the late 19th and into the 20th century and it was during this period that works by English speaking peoples began emerging in greater numbers. They have as their very basic elements the characteristics listed below.
What we now perceive as haiku was originally the opening phrases (hokku) of longer collaborative forms such as Renga and later Renku. Only much later did haiku came into common use as a ‘stand-alone’ form.
Most early Japanese adherents utilized three elements as minimum.
~ A kigo – seasonal reference
~ A ‘cutting’ word or phrase – the transition between a juxtaposition of two (seldom more) images or ideas.
~ 17 sound units (‘on’ or ‘morae’) generally presented in three ‘phrases’.
Several subtle and complex elements were generally included; such as
purposeful ambiguity, a sense of space ‘ma’, depth ‘yougen’, and elements acting as emotional triggers and the like..
Senryu developed as a variant of Haiku that speaks more to the human
condition than seasons; often involving the elements of irony or satire. This
variant is confusing to some as it retains the ‘look’ of a haiku by owning
similar phrasing patterns and sound units yet does not offer a kigo nor does it necessarily utilize a cutting word or phrase.
Tanka: Tanka is another closely related short poem. This form uses similar conventions to Haiku and Senryu but contains five lines (related phrases) – the two additional lines with seven ‘on’ thus a phrase pattern of 5-7-5-7-7. Some schools of thought stress content, such as strong emotions, that should accompany the form’s structure.
Understanding these basics, we must consider how English language Haiku and its related forms present problems for those who wish to translate or emulate them.
1.) The sound units of the Japanese (‘on’) are fundamentally different from English Syllables; a problem not easily reconciled. This issue has directly contributed to the following divergent schools of thought in English language Waka; and there are various voices to consider that fall somewhere between these extremes.
a.) Some feel it best to make the visible form reflect a consistent shape by placing our three ‘phrases’ into three lines and using syllables as though they were ‘on’. In Haiku for example, this results in a structure consisting of three lines of poetry with a syllable count of 5-7-5.
b.) The second school of thought involves translating waka (and constructing modern waka) to keep what is seen as the philosophical and emotional impact of the early masters. Instead of relying on a rigid ‘framework’, this school works to emulate the forms more subtle techniques; engaging the reader to make their own connections within a few, still brief but unconstrained, syllable counts – illuminating the moment, sensation, or emotional focus experienced by a waka’s author.
Most ‘modern’ authorities agree that the first option makes rendering an accurate 'translation’ of a Japanese waka extremely difficult if not impossible; forcing it into a stilted characterization of the original. And while few will deny that writing original English language Haiku using a 5-7-5 syllable constraint, accompanied by its kigo and cutting element, can be a suitable way to express the form in a contemporary setting, many deem the syllable count unnecessary.
2.) Because a contemporary English language Senryu could use an identical visible structure as a Haiku (the three line and 5-7-5 syllable count for example) even though it is without a kigo nor a clear ‘cutting’ word or phrase among its juxtapositions, it is commonly mistaken for and/or incorrectly identified as a Haiku.
This is especially troublesome as many contemporary Haiku poets make a habit of minimizing seasonal references and jettison the ‘cutting’ word or phrase in their works and still represent them as ‘haiku’. This blurs the lines between the two forms considerably.
3.) Sadly many of a waka’s subtler elements are so lacking in what passes for ‘modern’ Haiku (or its related forms) that if one were to write the words of
their ‘phrases’ (lines) out in one straight line, it would merely appear as a
very un-poetic sentence or statement.
I often struggle with depression. The shortened days of Fall and Winter increasing the frequency of such distress. Reading the affairs of the world in our daily news venues heightens my dread. Our culture is sick.
It is then I am reminded by a small still voice to count my blessings. The vast majority in the United States live in relative peace; a fact often neglected to our detriment. Much of the world's population suffers a grimmer fate.
Culture Clash by Ronald L. Kirkland © 1/24/2013
Hunger is being deprived of instant gratification.
Nakedness is a fashion statement.
Employment (for too many) is an option; menial tasks below us.
Love is a trophy to be flaunted or taken for granted.
Time is to be killed, amusement glorified
Hunger combs a field after harvest; seeking those few grains that have fallen to the earth unmarked.
Nakedness clothes her children with the ragged hand-me-downs of those passed on.
Employment waits before sunrise for a city’s refuse; scrambling for scraps that hold some value yet – recycled to some greater need.
Love pawns her children to strangers; having yet small hope that they will be better provided for.
Time proves many of these activities vain; the sweet release of death procured.
Has it been ten ears?
Time enough to raise a fine family.
The setting of our youngest daughter's wedding was a small chapel located by the entrance of a complex of privately owned summer camps near the 'north shore' coast of Massachusetts. As it was pre-season we arranged to rent one during our few days visit up from Alabama. New England was still cool and damp; and stepping in, our abode was more rustic than we imagined from images taken at a brighter moment in time. Lighting a few vintage lamps and a gas space heater amended our initial disappointment.
Time passing, warmth and cups of hot coffee began to open my eyes to the layers of history dotting the premises. Relics of generations, children and
grandchildren, were dispersed in every nook and cranny and the breath of summers past began to be felt and heard from room to room. The painted boards, weathered and chipped, and bare wooden rafters seemed alive with memories. Our time past, we carried some of those memories away with us. Soon happy children would find its full potential in the coming summer.
This Haiga was published at DailyHaiga on 10/23/2011