Poetry, especially the Japanese haiku, reminds me of interactive games and media. Listening to haiku and creating the poems can be a lot of fun, or they can give you a kind of calm melancholy, depending on the mood you bring to them. The haiku, made up of a set number of syllables, forms a framework and allows the readers to imagine the scene and interpret the meaning from their own experiences.
Bashō, a seventeenth-century Japanese poet, has written some of my favorite haiku. In fact, my novel features this one:
Red pepper pods
Add wings to them
(The Japanese original has the expected format of 5 syllables for the first line, seven for the second, and five again for the third.) What meaning would you give to this poem? A child’s play? A humorous look at dragonflies? According to the experts, Bashō was expressing that all things are one in their essence. But the poems are meant for enjoyment, and we are free to insert our own ideas.
The themes of traditional haiku center on nature and the four seasons. They convey a keen awareness of an emotion and may hint at a philosophy of life. One theme often repeated is the fleeting nature of beautiful things. When you think of beauty, what comes to mind? The gorgeous cherry blossoms, which last for about a week, are beloved symbols to many Japanese people of what is treasured, but too short-lived. Sōchō, another well-known poet, wrote:
I watch the cherry blossoms
A little sad, wouldn’t you say? But where did the blossoms’ beauty originate? The wonderful fact is that the cherry tree’s Designer is eternal. Not only flowers, but also rainbows, music, snow-covered mountains, starry skies, brilliant sunsets are just a little taste of true beauty—a gift from the Giver, the eternal Artist. God designed the cherry tree’s first tiny seed with all the information crammed inside: directions for the roots, bark, trunk, leaves (think of the photosynthesis’ complexity), flowers, and delicious fruit. How wonderful that when we seek to know God through Jesus, we can have an everlasting relationship with the Giver of such beauty!
While writing this post, I tried my hand at creating haiku. Obviously, I’m an amateur. Anyway, here’s the one I wrote:
Jagged mountain peaks
Puncture the risk-taking clouds
Snow covers my path
Perhaps you can catch a glimpse of the traveler’s wintry scene and the tongue-in-cheek connection between the peaks and the snow. Have you written any haiku? If so, I hope you will share one in the comment area below.