haiku, history

Motion in Haiku: Another Surprise

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Like still photos, many haiku capture a moment in time.  My first foray into capturing motion in haiku yielded 2 surprises.  Here comes another, in time for the centennial on 11-11 of the armistice that ended the fighting in World War I.

Let’s start by summarizing the older surprises that I posted in response to a CDHK episode.  Credits for the images below are at the end of this post for readability.

The first surprise was that that so much motion could fit in a haiku:

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

Of course, my haiku that is like a movie was inspired by this classic World War I haiku that is like a still photo:

© Maurice Betz
|A shell hole
|In its water
|Held the whole sky.

The second surprise was that I did not have a stable preference between these haiku.  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-flopped between the still photo by Betz and the movie by me.  So did at least 2 readers of my old post.

Here is the new third surprise.  After writing yet another shell hole haiku, I finally have a stable preference.  My preferred haiku is like a movie that starts after the explosion:

Healing Trickle
|Water slowly filled
|the shell blast’s muddy crater.
|It held the whole sky.

Image Sources

Unable to find appropriate and affordable period images, I used contemporary images: a generic explosion and a puddle that looks much like the water-filled shell hole.  The puddle photo has been cropped to be more nearly square.

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haiku, history

Motion in Haiku: 2 Surprises

The [Menu] button (atop the vertical black bar) reveals widgets like the Search box.  Typing just the [Enter] key into the Search box is a way to browse WordPress blogs.

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 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.

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.