Saturday, March 19, 2016

Carpe Diem #942 Thorn

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Again my excuses for being late with this episode which I had hoped to publish yesterday. So today I have two new episodes for you, but I think they will not be a long read ... we will see.

In this episode, Thorn, it's about the haiku writing technique used by Basho in the following haiku:

folly in darkness
grasping a thorn
instead of a firefly

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

This not a wellknown haiku by the master, but it's a nice one to look closer at. In this haiku Basho used a writing technique which was very common in waka-poetry. It was also the basis for the maekuzuki or "capping verse". This techniques works by setting up a sitiuation and leading the reader to believe the author is going to relate a certain situation. In the middle of the verse the writer's thinking makes a turn or, as this haiku writing technique is called, a twist and force the reader's mind into a completely different situation. Basho had studied the old waka anthologies and was therefore very familiar with this technique.

In the above haiku the "twist" is in the attention  for "grasping a thorn". The reader's mind thinks "the following line will be about the wound", but than there is the "twist" "a firefly".

Because fireflies appear in the time of the evening when lovers meet, they have the connotation of helping lovers find each other. Thus, the reader is led to think "thorn" is a euphemism, but the addition of the third line swings the poem back around into another situation.

rose and bumblebee

This haiku writing technique is very common in use, but it's not always easy to create a haiku with this haiku writing technique.

Here is my attempt:

smell the roses
their sweet perfume attracts
bumblebee appears

© Chèvrefeuille

There is another nice poetry form from the Far East that uses this writing technique often. Maybe you can remember that I once published an episode of Carpe Diem Little Ones about the Korean Sijo. In this Sijo the twist usually comes in the last two lines.

Here is an example of a Sijo in which you can find the twist at the end of it:

Cherry trees blossoming
for the very first time

spreading their branches,
reaching for the sun

thunderstorms raging,
fragile blossoms scattered

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until March 22nd at noon (CET). Have fun! Our new episode will follow immediately.

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