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
ladybugs the stained glass window comes alive — Barabara Tate, Failed Haiku 4:39 (2019)
Petru Viljoen bugs out:
I couldn’t find out more about Barbara Tate, who doesn’t seem to have a website of her own. So I researched the ladybug instead. Since moving to the countryside I realised they can bite! It’s decidedly painful. No reflection on Barbara Tate, the person, even if her poetry isn’t always comforting.
Ladybugs, or ladybirds as we call them here in South Africa, according to legend are so-called after the Virgin Mary who was prayed to by farmers whose crops were being destroyed by pests. This during the Middle Ages. The farmers noticed the beetles eating the pests after their prayers were said and thus the name. The red is said to represent Her cloak and the spots Her seven sorrows.
Leading to the next line of the stained glass window. There are many kinds of ladybird/bug, with various marks and colours as there are many different designs and colours in such a window. The beetles are attracted to the light and colour of a building. The two-dimensional surface of the stained glass is animated by the movement of the bird/bugs. The craft/art of stained glass has its origins in the Middle Ages, and was an important feature of Gothic churches. The glass produced was imperfect with bubbles (perhaps metaphor for ladybirds/bugs) which made the light in the windows to dance.
The coming alive: the veneration of the Virgin bringing life to spiritual endeavour; preserving life through saving of crops so the ordinary woman and man remained nourished on more than one level.
Or perhaps Barbara Tate spent a lazy, sunny afternoon watching ladybirds/bugs congregating on the stained glass window of her home and marvelled at how it made the window take on the appearance of life. Perhaps, even, a few actual ladies came calling, making a lazy, boring afternoon come alive with their actual presence.
Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă filters the light:
It’s spring again and nature revives and starts presenting its wonderful show. As a major form of pictorial art, the main purpose of the stained glass window was not to admit light but rather to control it. In this context one can say that the ladybugs animate the image, giving it a new aura; so, the inside becomes congruent with the outside, making symbiosis possible. Obviously, we can not keep the miracles under wraps. In this way, the consonant “s” seems to transmit, at a phonetic level, the idea of bursting (breaking the mold), that illuminates our path.
Radhamani Sarma finds beetles among the bugs:
I thank immensely The Haiku Foundation Blog for this wonderfully educative feature, and I am very much delighted to comment upon this haiku by Barbara Tate whose powerful haiku and senryu are always a delectable pleasure.
The very first line “ladybugs” brings, to my mind, the beetles which crawl on my window panes and in my garden plants as a slideshow; I carefully view them inching upwards, on clusters of leaves and eating insects. Tactile marauders are they!
As this week’s winner, Petru 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!
frayed feathers beneath the dogwood tree silence — Mary Kendall, Acorn, 41 (2018)