for a moment of joy or moments no one pays for, i give myself a ‘jornal’. this makes me rich. try it.

rose hips

rose hips–
my laughter among the bushes

There’s that “ache”, again!

“Yes, it seems to be a constant in my lines. I think in my poetry as in my being–because it’s from where our thoughts rise–pain, real or imagined, balances my leaps of joy. It keeps me aware of how flitting life is, beauty is, how un-changeless yet at the same time how much in constant flux this universe is; hence, how treasured each moment must be.”

That and what follows are from comments I’ve pulled out from my posts regarding the “sadness” and the “ache” in my haiku and other poems.

From Jenne Andrews at re my lyric poem, The Birthing, “there is an ache here and in your other poems i’ve seen that is so potent…”

From Patrick Gillespie at on my haiku winter beach, “One feels that there’s some sorrow in the relationship. One also wonders why, on a cold winter’s day, they are walking so close to the waves…”

From my reply to Patrick on winter beach, “Yes, Patrick (and Jenne), this sad feeling persists in my poetry. The Japanese aesthetics you couldn’t quite recall, when you wrote your comment on my ‘three tanka’ (qarrtsiluni), is not only “wabi”, as I replied but, “wabi-sabi”. I think it is its metaphysical sense that flows into my poems.

As described by Leonard Koren in his book, “Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers” (Stone Bridge Press, Berkeley, California, 1994 that I recently found in a used bookstore, McLeod’s on Dunsmuir St here in Vancouver, a space so tight one could get caught in an avalanche of books, all gems, much like Strands in New York), the metaphysical basis, which he begins with the question, “what is the universe like?” is “Things are either devolving toward, or evolving from, nothingness…While the universe destructs it also constructs. New things emerge out of nothingness…In metaphysical terms wabi-sabi suggests that the universe is in constant motion toward or away from potential.”

It’s a state of mind I seem to have been aware of as long as I can recall. I have always felt rueful about beauty, and always cried, when absolutely uplifted by works of art especially music; I still do both. I have characters in my short stories and my novella, who sense that at the height of happiness there awaits an equal in the depth of sorrow: my female protagonist in my novella-in-progress (editing and rewriting), “Lovers of the Interior“, exemplifies this thought. But that’s another story–a swing away from haiku!”

I do wish that I could veer away from it more often and walk close to Basho who said that haiku should be light as in shallow water (do I recall this right?) Even Shiki who was writing close to his death could still write with a sense of humor as in this haiku (1901 from Kimiyo Tanaka, Shiki team at haikuworld)

full of spring
rotten oranges
how sweet!

Perhaps I should meet up with Mutusumi often, the Japanese friend who pushed away my “dark” haiku and helped me search for “the wing in my heart”, an experience I hope to post soon!


January 18, 2011 - Posted by | haiku, poetry, reflection | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Wabi-Sabi. That’s the aesthetic I couldn’t remember. From what I’ve read, even the Japanese can’t quite agree on what it means. We have an expression in the west: Felix Culpa. The origin of the expression is much different than the Japanese expression, but when applied to poetry the sense of it can be similar. I was just reminded of it when writing about Frost’s Nothing Gold Can Stay.

    But. you’re not alone. Even before I had heard of the term wabi-sabi, I appreciated poetry that captured that sense of loss and beauty. I think it’s at the heart of all great poetry and music – think of the second movement to Mozart’s concerto for Violin and Viola. If that’s no wabi-sabi, then the term is meaningless.

    When Basho was referring to lightness (if memory serves) I don’t think he was referring to the emotional content of haiku (or to a sense of humor) but to a kind of simplicity in spiritual and poetic subject matter that never really caught on. This was toward the end of his life. He was searching for a transparency that, he felt, had eluded him in his more allusive haiku.

    Anyway, I love that quality in your poetry and haiku.

    Comment by upinvermont | January 19, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks, as always, Patrick! ‘Felix Culpa, felix mea culpa’, it’s a phrase in the Act of Contrition.

      Indeed, come to think of it, it’s when we soar with our senses and feelings that we dredge our spirits, and to regain equilibrium, we have to scour it to find the essence we perhaps misinterpreted and disused. That is why the mystics lived ‘heroic’ lives, I suppose, because they never lost that balance of simplicity and grace, the absolute freedom to be as in all things in the universe.

      But then, depths and heights–aren’t these what makes up Man?

      Patrick! You alone allow me to plunge into these ruminations! How so blessed am I to have you as as a friend.

      Comment by alee9 | January 19, 2011 | Reply

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