Some fine haiku were among the few good things to come out of World War I. My experiment with one of them provides a response to Carpe Diem Perpetuum Mobile #2 rainbows sparkle (or movement in haiku). While refining my nuanced stance on the 5-7-5 Rule ( Helpful guideline? Yes! Firm requirement? No! ), I tried tweaking a few classic haiku that broke the rule. Could something that was already good be improved by revisions to comply with 5-7-5? In particular, I considered a World War I image by Maurice Betz. Neither the French original nor the straightforward translation on page 50 of The Haiku Handbook (2013 edition) obeys 5-7-5. This post ends by quoting the translated Betz haiku (which is utterly static) and my [5-7-5]-compliant version (which has both fast and slow motion). I was surprised twice.
- The history of the shell hole can be narrated succinctly within the confines of 5-7-5.
- I do not have a stable preference for either version. Like someone viewing the classic ambiguous image that can be seen as a duck facing one way or as a rabbit facing the other, I flip-flop between the still photo by Betz and the movie by me.
© Maurice Betz
A shell hole
In its water
Held the whole sky.
A shell exploded!
Water slowly filled the hole
and held the whole sky.
- Jastrow, J. (1899). The mind’s eye. Popular Science Monthly, 54, 299-312.
- The soft copy used here has been downloaded and cropped.