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
Carnival balloon still filled with a dead child’s breath — James Kirkup, First Fireworks (1992)
Radhamani Sarma finds opposites:
A pleasure to comment upon this week’s haiku by James kirkup, a British poet, professor, and translator.
The striking feature of this week’s haiku is that the haiku revolves around the principle of antithesis, converting the meaning of all three lines. Carnival/demise, birth/death, inflation/deflation, and the somber memory of death is such that it creates a vacuum, a void, while the inflated baloon continues flying. Human feelings represented by air bubbles/air balloons traversing far beyond time and space.
As a contributor to an obituary column, James Kirkup must have had an inkling to write this haiku, with necrology serving as an impetus.
As this week’s winner, Radhamani 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!
flapping in the prunus woodpigeons shedding feathers and leaves — Geoffrey Winch, A Hundred Gourds 5:1 (2015)