haiku, history

Motion in Haiku: 2 Surprises

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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.Duck-Rabbit_illusion_439x242

  1. The history of the shell hole can be narrated succinctly within the confines of 5-7-5.
  2. I do not have a stable preference for either version.  Like someone viewing the classic ambiguous picture 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.

Redemptive Trickle

A shell exploded!
Water slowly filled the hole
and held the whole sky.

Image Source

  • Jastrow, J. (1899). The mind’s eye. Popular Science Monthly, 54, 299-312.
  • The soft copy used here has been downloaded and cropped.

4 thoughts on “Motion in Haiku: 2 Surprises

  1. Like Betz’s image my opinion seems to flounder between the two. When I think of gentler times that offered (at the very least) a greater impression of freedom and unlimited opportunities I enjoy Betz’s version because it creates a natural setting with finite borders that still provides limitless potential. When I view the world today and the “organized” chaos and destruction we see ongoing, I like the reality and power of your haiku. It demonstrates that explosive turmoil can lead gradually to an evolving society; one that is capable of re-positioning meaningfully in the universe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. After belatedly realizing that the question “Do U have a preference?” should have been a poll header, I replaced it by a poll and supplied 3 votes, my own plus those implied by the preceding 2 comments. Any future visitor who wants to state a preference can just click a radio button in the poll.


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