Haikusday Tuesday : The Cool Breeze

The cool breeze
fills the empty vault of heaven
with the voice of the pinetrees.

This haiku, with its initial lack of images, snaps backwards once we hit the last word. We do not see a cool breeze or an empty vault or a voice, it is only when we hit the pinetrees that we can begin to make sense of the haiku. The genius of this haiku is that it enacts the very event it speaks of for just as we are surprised by the sudden and late appearance of the tree so are we surprised by the metaphor of the tree’s voice. Working back we understand the value of this voice as it fills the vault of heaven. Using the word “vault” makes this voice a treasure, using “heaven” instead of “sky” imports a more sacred connotation. In this second backward reading we feel the breeze, we see the open sky, and we hear the voice of the pinetrees rushing into our ears.

The cool breeze
fills the empty vault of heaven
with the voice of the pinetrees.

“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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