Michael Bogdanffy-kriegh

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The Haiku of Issa

… i am nearing the end of The Essential Haiku… a few more poems, a couple of prose pieces at the end of the book, i am finished… yesterday i gathered together a dozen of my micro poems to read at an event in the evening that was postponed until next week due to the rain… a COVID precaution… i read them to H who did not seem that enthusiastic about them… haiku and micro poems are funny things… i suspect you get them, or you don’t and the difference between a passable one and a great one is hard to pin down… they need to be specific enough to call you to the details of a moment, but then use those details to open a window on the infinite…

… today’s haiku summaries and interpretations…

  • a small boat drifts down the tide under an autumn moon…
    • first interpretation is literal, a scene observed
    • second interpretation, the small boat represents the poet in late middle age, early old age, as seasons equate to stages in life…
    • tides are cyclical and related to the moon…
    • the moon is enlightenment, the poet drifts in the light of enlightenment and with the push, pull of the tides…
  • I’m here and the snow is falling…
    • first interpretation, literal, the poet standing in the falling snow…
    • second interpretation, old age has overtaken the poet, but he is still there, still alive…
  • making very straight holes with piss in the snow…
    • it’s hard to go to far beyond the literal interpretation here… i suppose the straight piss stream would be a good sign for an elderly man… still some virility left…
  • missing her grumbling, the moon…
    • pining for a woman under the moon…
    • in Buddhism, the moon is a symbol of enlightenment, Issa was a lay Buddhist priest, so it is likely the Buddhist significance of the moon prevails in his writings…
    • so, perhaps it is longing for a woman under the light of the moon, or perhaps it is longing for feminine wisdom to complete enlightenment…
  • the nose of a new foal among the irises…
    • it is hard to go beyond the literal here, though spring and rebirth could be a general theme of the poem…
  • a peasant woman planting towards her crying child, crooked row…
    • this is one that could be literal but is perhaps more satisfying to interpret as metaphor…
      • the strength of a mother’s love, the bond between mother and child…
      • the strength of the bond of family…
      • the pull of youth on the not so young…
      • longing for youth…
      • the triumph of heart over mind…