Haikusday Tuesday : Not Knowing

Not knowing
it is a famous place,
a man hoeing the field.

Memory seems to be at the root of this haiku. Some such sin as forgetting the past or a failure to honor the past seems to be our moral, but as we work through the poem we need to ask, how is a field famous?

The answer leads us in altogether different direction, a battlefield. What strikes us at first is the desiccation of a memorial turns into a healing from the past. War has been forgotten, swords have been beaten into plowshares. Instead of blood, seeds will be sown here, instead of death sinking into the dust, life will spring out of it.

Not knowing
it is a famous place,
a man hoeing the field.

“Three lines are enough” -Rabindranath Tagore

How to Read Haiku

  • Read it once. Follow the images. Construct the scene. Read it again.
  • Question each word. Why this word and not another?
  • Do not count syllables. The 5-7-5 form is nonexistent in English.
  • Read it a third time.

Some things to look for:

  • Delight in small things, in details.
  • Supernatural or emotional element among the image.
  • Typically haiku are seasonally specific.


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