Monday, May 23, 2005

Seventeen syllables

Have been fascinated by many things Japanese: the high speed trains, the language, their propensity for eating poisonous fish (think I’m kidding?). I once went to a tea drinking ceremony, which was presided over by a little old lady in a green silk kimono and perfect, toy-like slippers. She used a brush to sort of brew a tea powder in the bottom of a cup, which you accepted with both hands, according to protocol. I took a sip. She asked me what I thought.
My face, in a performance worthy of at least an honorable mention at the Academy Awards, was impassive (pretty sure of this, though don’t have substantive proof). I didn’t say a word. “Ah,” that queenly presence said, in a tone that can only come from someone really old, or Japanese, or both. “You think it is different.”
It actually tasted, to my taste buds, a bit like fish-powder, albeit in a really pretty cup.
Anyhow, to get to the point, it is this: Haiku. Sample the pieces below, by an old master called Basho. (Got these off a website called Read a few books of it earlier, though.)

Temple bells die out.
The fragrant blossoms remain.
A perfect evening!

And another one:
No blossoms and no moon,
and he is drinking sake
all alone!

The great and fascinating thing about these poems is that, in the original Japanese haiku, each contains 17 syllables. Inexplicable, yet lovely. (The English ones don't have to follow this rule, because there are too many differences between the two languages.) Here is my pithy offering, inspired by the spirit of being in a free world and anyone being allowed to make as big a fool of themselves as they wish:

the silence between us
sits; tangible
as a bowl of ripe cherries.


Geminian said...


Haiku was really fascinating ... can u post somemore syllables pl...

You hold the reader's attention with your artful SAs woven with entertaining anecdotes and wry aperçus. Really fascinating...

Col said...

Can i borrow your haiku book which you had.

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