Thursday, October 29, 2015

Carpe Diem Special #179 Tom D'Evelyn "The Held Breath: Sound and Silence in a Haiku"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It makes me sad to this will be our last CD Special of our Third Anniversary month, but at the other hand ... maybe it is time to move on, go on ... discover new grounds, new ways, new paths, new people ...

Maybe you can remember that wonderful essay by Tom D'Evelyn earlier this month. You were all excited and enthusiastic about that essay and it confirmed my idea that Tom is a marvelous poet. Through his essay I became anxious to read more by him and so I ran into his website "Haiku Eschaton", really a wonderful website. As I visited his website I read a wonderful essay which he published on October 24th 2015 ... and I love to share that essay here. I hope Tom doesn't mind ... That essay is titled "The Held Breath: Sound and Silence in a Haiku". I hope you all do like this essay.

Tom D'Evelyn

The Held Breath: Sound and Silence in a Haiku

Posted on October 24, 2015 by Tom D'Evelyn on his own website Haiku Eschaton

Haiku is an art of silence, or at least of silences. The inner architecture turns on a gap, an empty space between dimensions; the meditative origins of the imagery suggest deep silences. And yet it is also an art of the senses, richly mixed to convey the complexity of the flesh of the ongoing world. Sounds pretentious as hell, yes? Maybe, but . . .

the whine of the leaf blower
the leaves the leaves keep falling

© Tom D’Evelyn

This haiku presents contrastive sounds and visual events. Somehow they cross in the haiku: the ongoing silence is somehow foregrounded with the removal of intrusive sounds. Finally, it is in the tension of these narratives that the moment subsists. The held breath.

The drift is toward silence. Perhaps we recall Shakespeare’s use of the ripeness — the overflowing significance — of silence in his tragedies.

More particularly: The whine of the leaf blower is one of the “signs” of Autumn; and what it lacks in articulateness it makes up for in intrusive mechanical whining. Once it is turned off, and the leaves all blown into corners where they will be gathered into big black plastic bags, the leaves keep falling, without fanfare and without surcease, as if in mockery of our efforts to tidy things up. And there is something morally as well as physically chilling perhaps about the relentless dropping of the leaves in Autumn.

A final note. Those of us who “follow Basho” are conscious of the unity of the heart and the centrality of compassion.

Autumn in my town (photo © Chèvrefeuille 2013)
To catch "The Held Breath" is not easy, but as I ran through my archive and my photos I ran into the above autumn photo and the following haiku. I think I caught that "The Held Breath" in that haiku.

in the morning light
trees look like a treasure chest -
autumn has come

© Chèvrefeuille

I hope this essay will inspire you as it did me.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 1st at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our next episode, 
Kasuga Wakamiya Festival, later on. For now ... have fun!


  1. Love the essay and the haiku, yours and the original!

  2. This was an inspiring read. My first time here and thank you for the opportunity!

  3. Very interesting, Kristjaan. I also liked your photo...your autumn is very similar to autumn in Quebec.