Sunday, May 25, 2008

One Single Impression: Reflection

Quietly the sun
sets in its own reflection —
a perch grabs a bug

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Last week I asked what the kireji (or "cutting word") means because I was having problems understanding the concept. I received wonderful replies. I post them here:

from Roswila:
Good question! I'm sure you've googled; you'll get a lot of information if haven't and then do. But here's what I've learned about it so far:

The kireji is a definite break in the haiku. Not just a pause like a comma would make in one complete sentence, but a full break or change so that the haiku is not one complete sentence in three lines. E.g., I believe in yours it would come after "woods." (BTW, you could leave out that dash, if you wanted, as it's clear there's a cut or break without it.)

Why is this kireji also often called "the cutting word"? Because (if I am recalling correctly) in Japanese there would be an actual word that creates this cut, this stop. In Japanese this cutting word/kireji has no meaning except as a sort of "stop sign" within a haiku (and there are various sorts of kireji). Whereas in English we don't need a word to indicate a stop, because our grammar itself indicates when a sentence or sentence fragment is done, over, stopped. Some haiku writers have used/do use dashes and colons to indicate the cut/kireji. But usually English grammar makes it just as clear without any extra punctuation.

Hope that was even a little helpful. Kireji is an extensive study, judging by the little bit of it I've dipped my toes into.
from the teach:
Yes you do understand the "cutting word," Andree! "field of trout lilies!" It's an exclamation at the end of a haiku - "I walk in the woods/earth black with seeping water/ --trout lilies!
A surprise, in your haiku you've come upon the trout lilies and it surprised you and us the readers...:D
and from Crafty Green Poet:
My understanding is that the cutting word can't be directly translated, but instead in English is replaced by a dash at the end of the first or second line(like at the end of your first line) to separate the two parts of the haiku. - generally the image in the first part of the haiku makes a comparison or contrast with the image in the second part of the haiku. That's my understanding anyway!
Thank you for the answers, ladies. I think I get it now!

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  1. Beautiful haiku. I think your kireji works wonderfully; it slices the poem neatly into two.

  2. the stillness of your words punctuated with the 'plunk' of the perch's action has such a calming effect...

  3. Andree,
    Thanks for including these explanations in the body of your post. This is very helpful.

    The perch's behavior is in lovely contrast to the sun's. I often feel such scenes--the stillness coexists with the constant activity, and both are about the cycle of life continuing.

    This is wonderful. Thanks, friend.

    Writing in Faith: Poems

  4. Thanks for the explanation of the kireji. I love this haiku and photo. It encapsulates the peace of the moment and the peace in both stillness and activity. Just lovely.

  5. Thank you for all the definitions. For some reason haikus were never included in my education, even though I am an English major (but trained in England). Now, is the plural of haiku, haikus or simply haiku?

  6. Loved your post - the questions about kireji, the answers, the sun, the perch, the bug... It made me take another look at the picture again because you saw so much more than I did! And I thought it was lovely the first time around. Ahh - the world through another's eyes.

  7. "the sun sets in its own reflection"-a dimensional statement this- vis a vis-"why do you reach for the sun only to die" (morning glory) Well Done Andree!..thanks..

  8. 'the sun sets in its own reflection' is wonderful not only for the way it rolls off my tongue but for the imagery as well. Thanks for this lovely and informative post!

  9. Reading aloud, this gets enhanced. Simply marvellous!

    reflected changes

  10. For me, some of the best poems are those which make me see something in a new way. Your haiku does that.

  11. wow! i don't often say this, but i wish i'd written this.
    gorgeous photograph, too.

  12. ahh, that is an interesting post... always love haiku so learned something new... i like this quiet place that you speak of...

  13. Wonderful (i.e, wonder-filled) haiga. It reflects back on itself and inside this reader.

    As to plural of haiku, as questioned by a commenter above? I've asked that question myself a couple of times and never got an answer. So for years now I've been using "haiku" as both singular and plural, as that seems to be what others do. Of course, that doesn't mean its correct. LOL!

  14. The plural of haiku is haiku - I'll refrain from going into a long explanation of why it is so - of course American English and British English often differ so haikus might be acceptable in America but it sure grates!

  15. Loved this post! Your haiku is beautiful, and is another learning experience for me.


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