e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Archive for the category “Poetry”

Carpe Diem #948 brush

The post #948 on Carpe Diem deals with the haiku principle of yugen. This word, first used by Chinese philosophers, generally means ‘mystery’ and ‘unknowable depth’.

It is up to the reader to decide if a poem has yugen or not, so interpreting the term is very subjective.

I have no problem with this. I think that all responses to all poems are subjective, and readers frequently find features the poet did not intend and miss others s/he worked hard to include.

Maybe most poems have an element of yugen – sometimes it’s obvious and other times obscure.

Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are.

may be a rhyme for children, but does it differ much from

Tyger, tyger burning bright
In the forests of the night.

In my opinion Blake’s poetry includes yugen, even though he probably didn’t know the term.

But back to #948. The following is my contribution to the discussion:

Deer fly when no one
watches. In the snowy field
their flight leaves no prints.

Prose Poems

9781784101688img01The current quarterly book from the Poetry Book Society is Measures of Expatriation by Vahni Capildeo. The poetry is varied and includes several prose poems, some quite long.

Prose poems aren’t my favourite type of literature, but I am enjoying these. The rich descriptions and some quirky viewpoints are refreshing.

Apparently prose poetry is a relatively recent genre. A Japanese form, haibun, was in vogue in the 17th century, but in the west it was over a hundred years later that poets started to use it in its full form.

Reading about the early prose poets reminded me of a ‘tale’, which I read years ago – Landor’s Cottage by Edgar Allan Poe.

Landor’s Cottage reads like the start of a story, but it doesn’t get to be one. Elegant and detailed description lead to no action; it comes to a halt as the author says:

It is not the purpose of this work to do more than give in detail, a picture of Mr. Landor’s residence – as I found it.

I think it comes close to modern prose poetry, in its intent and richness, but it misses by being definitely prose. Mr Poe, leader in several literary genres, lost an opportunity to be a major model for, what was in his time, a new poetic form.

Today the form is popular with a lot of poets, but Ms Capildeo is the first I’ve come across who makes me want to take my interest further.

 

Carpe Diem Special #201 Basho’s disciples

Carpe Diem has set yet another interesting haiku challenge: to write in the style of Morikawa Kyoroku who was one of Basho’s disciples.

The sample given is:

ah! morning glories
are at their best while I chant
my morning prayers

It’s a simple and straightforward word-picture, but the more I look at it the more ideas and depths I see in it.

My answer to this challenge is:

Early sun, but where
the pine tree casts a shadow
there’s grass white with frost.

Poetry of leap years and days

Thirty days has September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone,
Which has twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year.

I was reminded of this old rhyme when I switched on my computer this morning and realised that I’d forgotten the leap year.

We get a whole extra day – to do what? In my case much as I always do; write, cook, gardening – perhaps not today as it’s so cold, read – currently A Killing Frost by R D Wingfield and fiddle about – something I’m good at.

I thought I’d see if anyone has commemorated this calendrical oddity in verse.

Hello Poetry has a section on leap year poetry. Some of the poems don’t seem to have much to do with the date, but perhaps something that only occurs occasionally stimulates the imagination to look at other rare happenings.

Let’s be like leap year.
Let’s leap through time

A nice idea from Monkey Zazu.

Reading Juice is well into the spirit of things with all kinds of leaping, not just the day. Kangaroos, frogs, crickets and others get in on the leaping, hopping, jumping act.

The only serious poem on the subject I’ve come across so far is Jane Hirshfield‘s Ode to the Leap Day on Brainpickings site.

A tangka for a cold day

Today has been a sunny day where I am, but cold; the forecast lately has promised snow, but it hasn’t actually arrived. My meditations on the subject of snow ended with this tangka.

central-park-142894__180

Fine snow falls slowly
onto the old, cracked tarmac –
gently, politely.
The road can’t resent this slight
covering, too thin for comfort.

 

Picture from Pixabay.

Haiku in Spain

I’ve been away on and off for over a month, which is why there’s been no action on this blog. I plan to get back into posting and sharing from now on.

First, a belated Happy New Year to all my readers. I hope you’ve had a great winter so far.

Orange tree

While roaming around the sunny streets in southern Spain and looking for subjects for haiku, it occurred to me that the haiku I’m familiar with all come from further north; from autumn harvests and snowy winters. This isn’t a necessary feature of any poetry, so I looked again at where I was and what was around.

The year’s shortest day;
oranges ripen under
blue and cloudless skies.

 

Carpe Diem special 184: in the spirit of Ese

At this end of November, damp and windy where I am, Carpe Diem has given us a glimpse of spring in some of the haiku he’s chosen for today’s inspiration. His model is a lady called Ese who has written many simple haiku that say a great deal in a few words.

The examples are mainly about nature and its ephemeral beauty.

Here’s what the spirit of Ese has inspired me to write:

A leafless forest.
The wind howls. From far away
someone’s dog answers.

‘Pages of Pain’ from Kimberly Wilhelmina Floria

Great poetry for free!

silentlyheardonce

Beginning tomorrow November 1 until November 5 Pages of Pain Kindle edition is available for free.

Just wanted to let you know. I’m still putting 100% of myself into Hidden Temptation and I’m feeling good about it.  See you all soon.

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George Orwell and his poetry

IMG_6289-189x300George Orwell’s poetry was recently published as a collection. Apparently this is for the first time. Given how famous he is, I wondered why. Surely after his death any unpublished work would have been extra-valuable.

The BBC interview goes some way towards explaining this. According to Dione Venables, the collection’s editor, he wasn’t a great poet and the value of much of his verse lies in what it says about him as a person, not his politics nor poetry in general.

He was a persistent poet. Like many, he discovered the joy of writing verse when very young, but unlike many, he never gave it up, which means that this collection covers a lifetime’s output.

A good deal of his poetry has been available for some time. He published a few in magazines himself, and various websites have selections. The Orwell Prize site has links to several and also to scanned original pages of others – his handwriting was reasonably legible, but they are still difficult to read.

A lot of the poetry is light and easy reading:

A happy vicar I might have been
Two hundred years ago
To preach upon eternal doom
And watch my walnuts grow;

But born, alas, in an evil time,
I missed that pleasant haven,
For the hair has grown on my upper lip
And the clergy are all clean-shaven.

There are several more, similar, verses.

Cover picture from Scarthin Books.

Reading a mystery

Another Carpe Diem challenge and this time one open to an even wider range of responses than usual. To check out some of the ways others have interpreted the prompt go to the website and follow the links – an exploration well worth taking.

The prompt comes from a haiku by Cor van den Heuve, a well-known American haiku writer.

This is his:

reading a mystery
a cool breeze comes through
the beach roses

One could speculate for hours on the exact meaning – what mystery? a book, or something more profound? I wondered, too, what beach roses are, but a quick google answered that question.

This theme is so rich I wrote several haiku using it, but finally settled on the following as being truest to the original.

Reading a mystery
in the garden; a blackbird sings;
mystery resolved.

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