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
to tangle or untangle the willow — it’s up to the wind — Fukuda Chiyo-ni (1703-75), translated by Yoshie Ishibashi and Patricia Donegan, Chiyo-ni: Woman Haiku Master (1998)
Radhamani Sarma branches out:
Pleased to comment upon the haiku by Fukuda Chiyo-ni. She is a Japanese poet, who became very famous at a time when women had to live with so many constraints and only men excelled in haiku writing. Very much influenced by Basho’s writings, Chiyo-ni, like the Romantics, admired Nature and in almost all her haiku, images of Nature prevail.
Beginning with a preposition, the haiku veers round the image, the willow tree, that stands for copious growth and incredible lofty heights with a gigantic majestic appearance, and with sturdy trunks. To quote Patricia Donegan, the translator (alongside Yoshie Ishibashi) of this week’s poem:
” ‘Oneness with nature’ seems especially resonant in Chiyo-ni’s haiku. Basho’s theory of oneness with nature was that the poet should make a faithful or honest sketch of nature. ”
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!
re:Virals 165:streets of childhood another memory resurfaces — Rachel Sutcliffe, Failed Haiku 32