This poem was written in response to Carpe Diem Utabukuro #2 theme: summertime, another great prompt hosted by Chèvrefeuille at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. This feature is for sharing your favourite haiku or tanka with Haiku Kai and putting them into the “poem bag” or Utabukuro.
For this episode the theme is “summertime” and we were asked to explain why we chose a specific haiku or tanka and than write an all new haiku or tanka inspired by it. I’m choosing two poems by Issa, which I read today whilst having lunch on a hill by a lake, under a blue sky.
this dewdrop world –
it may be a dewdrop,
and yet – and yet –
were it sweet,
it would be my dew,
So, why do I like these two haiku?
The “dewdrop world” in the first haiku refers to the Buddhist idea of this world being a temporary illusion, which quickly fades away. For Issa, who was a Buddhist priest, this idea was second nature. However, when Issa wrote this poem his child had recently died; so, while acknowledging the “dewdrop world”, the haiku ends with the doubtful refrain “and yet” – because, ultimately, ideas can be a pretty poor defence against emotions and Issa wants his child back, desperately, despite himself. There’s a nakedness and honesty and simple, sad humanity to the poem.
The second poem is completely different, despite the return of the dew. In this haiku, Issa looks at the beauty of the natural world at its most basic and fundamental level – the dew glinting on the grass. There it is, sparkling for everyone, regardless; and he realises that if it had any quality that could be commercialised and turned into profit, then it would no longer be everyone’s: it would be packaged up and sold to those people who could afford it. Essentially, it skewers the ‘modern’ attitude to life so deftly, so wryly, that it’s a pleasure to make the guy’s acquaintance.
All of the poems in the link-up can be read here. And, to finish, here’s Chic (because Nile Rodgers’ guitar sounds like the dew, to me, anyway) –
To finish, here’s Superbad by James Brown, featuring Bootsy Collins. The song isn’t linked to the story, as such, but my cat is called Bootsy and she went missing on Friday – today I got her back from the RSPCA, after she had been discovered wandering lost in the neighbouring estate, which is a great distance away when you’re a small cat who’s practically blind. So, after three days of feeling awful it’s good to finish with some celebratory funk – as well as a big thank you to both my sister-in-law for being instrumental in tracking Bootsy down and the person in Shenley Church End who took a dazed and confused stray cat to the vet –
This poem was written in response to Carpe Diem Little Creatures #18, Issa’s “rice blossoms”, another great prompt hosted by Chèvrefeuille at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. All of the poems in the link-up can beread here. And, to finish, here’s Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood –
All that gold, shimmering brightly! The butterfly rushed to embrace it with all the arms he had. Landing among the yellow petals, he basked in their glow. Ah but the cold weather was drawing in and the butterfly feared for his tender, brilliant wings.
Looking down from the last flower in the garden, the butterfly saw a snail slide down the path. So cosy she looked in that shell, never buffeted by the wind. “You know,” the butterfly shouted down to her, “I could’ve accepted being a snail except… all your faces look the same! Whereas every little swirl and dot of colour on my wings is unique. Unique!”
The snail gazed up to see where the noise was coming from. Noticing the butterfly clinging feebly to the dying petals, she twirled her left horn, thoughtfully, then her right. “Hmm,” she murmured, to no one in particular, “poor creatures, those butterflies. All that flitting must be exhausting. And then the upkeep on those wings.” She sighed. “But I could live with all that, I suppose, if need be, except… they’re always dreaming that they’re philosophers! Ah now that I couldn’t abide.”
This piece of flash fiction was written for Friday Fictioneers: a story in 100 words prompted by a picture that Rochelle Wisoff-Fields posts every Wednesday. Here’s thelink to the stories and this week’s picture is at the top of this post, copyright Janet Webb. I seem to be out of practice with the 100-word limit since this story strays a good deal beyond it. Sorry, Rochelle.