haiku presented with commentary by the Yuki Teikei Society for discussion
young leaf #2
By Patricia Machmiller & Jerry Ball
Fourth of July—
a line of ants
along the parade route
Michael Dylan Welch
jb: A shasei haiku. There is no comment; the mention of the visual phenomena is all that’s needed. Of course this must be done in the context of the kigo, and this shows why a kigo is of such central importance. In itself a line of ants can bring an emotional effect, but on the Fourth of July ? and on a parade route? Ah, the kigo!
pjm: A little ryeness to make us smile. The poet has come to the Fourth of July parade and finds, paralleling the human parade, an ant parade. I am enjoying the light-hearted take on the ants that the poet has offered, and I could stop here. But if the poet wanted to move the writing from a light, humorous observation of ants to something that asked the reader to cogitate more, then I would offer this:
The central idea of the haiku plays with a natural behavior of ants (a summer kigo), their parade-like formations. And using the Fourth of July (also a summer kigo), which is a traditional parade venue, immediately sets the stage for the haiku. However, consider the weight of the “Fourth of July” versus the “ants.” The “ants” are totally overwhelmed by that huge fire-cracking, band-playing “Fourth of July” imagery. Also the interplay between the ants and the Fourth of July stops with the similarity of the parade aspect. But consider a march of veterans or a protest march or a gay-pride march or a marathon run. Suddenly the ants take on additional meaning. We are confronted with more than the parade-like quality; we think of how small they are, how persistent they are in the face of great odds, how unified they are, how defiant, etc. By making the ants the central and only kigo and bringing the image they are compared to into a more balanced perspective, does the possibility for additional meaning open up? What do you think?