Welcome to re:Virals, The Haiku Foundation’s weekly poem commentary feature on some of the finest haiku ever written in English. This week’s poem was
deep snow in a dream, I find her password in — Mark Harris, Haiku in English (Ed. Jim Kacian et al)
Alan Summers tries to unlock the password:
The three-line haiku has the last two lines equally indented, with the first letter of each line nearly falling directly underneath the ‘o’ in snow. Is it a concrete haiku, a visual poem at first glance Perhaps, as the last two lines (dis)appear as if underneath the deep snow literally as well as if in a dream.
There is a use of alliteration, and of assonance, with deep and dream, and not just the two instances of ‘in’ but a hidden third ‘in’ within f(in)d. The use of a comma, unusual in contemporary haiku, is highly effective alongside the dreamlike rhyme of the double ‘in’ spanning those last two lines.
Is it all about finding the key to unlock the coding of a dream, and in fact someone else’s dream? Dreams can be circular, perhaps imitating our circular lives as well, until we finish something in our waking version of life, whether one we were looking for, or one that is unexpected.
The circular-ness of ‘in a dream, I find her password in a dream, in a dream, I find her password in in’ and with those doubled up ‘in’s, do we find the final “in” that we are chasing after? And what is her password in deep snow, is it the white noise of life in general, or is it finding actual love in a world that seems to frown upon it as merely sentiment? In dreams we can often have the answer to almost everything until the rising up through the various layers of sleep into full wakefulness, when often we lose our all important “open-all-within” password.
Is the answer just that one and unfinished word ‘in’? What can that mean? I love snow, and there are more than fifty words, especially in the Scottish language (where it’s over four hundred), but can we dream, can we, is it still legal even?
This is a very beautiful poem, mysterious, unanswered, password protected, but it resonates powerfully for me, and I am okay about being unable to unlock it, just to be touched by its deep snow is fine for me.
As this week’s winner, Alan gets to choose next week’s poem, which you’ll find below. We invite you to write a commentary to it. It may be as long or short, academic or spontaneous, serious or silly, public or personal as you like. We will select out-takes from the best of these. And the very best will be reproduced in its entirety and take its place as part of the THF Archives. Best of all, the winning commentator gets to choose the next poem for commentary.
Anyone can participate. A new poem will appear each Friday morning. Simply put your commentary in the Contact box by the following Tuesday midnight (Eastern US Time Zone). Please use the subject header “re:Virals” so we know what we’re looking at. We look forward to seeing some of your favorite poems — and finding out why!
river mouth the kingfisher opens its own — Lovette Carter, Yanty’s Butterfly: A Haiku Nook Anthology (2016)