It’s been a long time since I’ve posted to this site, but since I’ve just written a piece for The Australian Haiku Society, I’m reproducing it here. AHS is currently featuring brief articles by its committee members on what haiku means to them – here is mine:
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.
Gerard Manley Hopkins – (God’s Grandeur)
What I find so alluring about haiku is its evocation of this freshness that Hopkins speaks about, and the way that something concealed and surprising can be unveiled and enlarged with the brevity of carefully chosen words.
For me, the way into seeing with freshness and clarity can be reached through quieting the busy-ness of thought and endless activity and centering on here and now. In this quiet space I am gifted with a sense of connection where I become aware of the myriad lives around me – the lives of insects, of leaves, of stars – and of the transitory nature of all things, including our own lives.
Writing haiku is a desire to express what is glimpsed in that moment by distilling and compressing it into a form that, when received by a reader, opens out to reveal its richness.
I am reminded of the Japanese wonder flowers that delighted me as a child – tiny pieces of paper folded into a clamshell. When immersed in a glass of water the paper magically unfurled into brightly coloured flowers. Now, the way spring buds open into full bloom, is for me a deeper magic and mystery.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxbefore the freesias
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxtheir bright green blades
Resonating with Hopkins’ words is a quote by Mitsu Suzuki, from the introduction to her haiku collection, Temple Bells:
Haiku helps us see things clearly and appreciate the wonders and beauties of nature. Gratitude for the air, sun, and water comes from being aware of how deeply we are enriched by all of nature. Seeing things in such an honest way, we have to write directly and straightforwardly. Haiku helps us penetrate deeply into ourselves and cleanse ourselves.
I love to read haiku that open up new insights and images in my mind and heart, haiku that unfold further with each reading, inviting me deeper into a freshness of seeing and feeling, deepening my connection with others and with the world.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxin its hollows
Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)
Mitsu Suzuki, Temple Dusk: Zen Haiku (Parallax Press, 1992)
‘before the freesias’ Lyn Reeves, walking the tideline (Pardalote Press, 2001)
‘beached whelk’ Lyn Reeves, walking the tideline (Pardalote Press, 2001)