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:
celebrate the day pay no attention to the years —Susan Le Roberts, Haiku Foundation Per Diem (August 2019)
Sanela Pliško seizes the day:
I find this haiku a great reminder that when focusing our lives celebrating only anniversaries, birthdays, jubilees etc. we often forget that every given day is special. The past and the future take a lot of unnecessary time and energy: so many words, debates, wonderings, “what ifs,” “if only’s” instead of paying attention to the details that are happening now. Will we be happier next anniversary than we are today? It doesn’t matter, happiness cannot be scheduled. Carpe diem.
Radhamani Sarma discovers bliss:
Many thanks for giving us a haiku by Susan Le Roberts highlighting joy and a merry world of happiness. Obviously, it is about a birthday; with joy, celebration, a party, cakes and candles. The mood is about the event, a moment of jubilation in the first line “ celebrate the day”…
With “pay no attention/to the years” in the following lines, the readers are prepared for a different view, different perspective, prolonging to a period of Years—during which suffering, sacrifice, pain and pleasure, gain and loss
are incurred. Forget about the years, live and relive the moment, the day of bliss.
Theresa Cancro is drawn into the moment:
Susan Le Roberts’ haiku puts me in mind of a birthday or anniversary celebration. She seems to suggest that we should gloss over the many years that have transpired and instead focusing on the day and festivities, perhaps home in on the immediate present. When we focus on the “present moment,” we put aside concerns about the past and future. The past is behind us. The future will be influenced by the present and what we decide to do each day, but obsessing over past and future keeps us from enjoying what is right in front of us. I think “day” is the operative word in line 1 as we revel in the celebratory moment. Certainly, we will reflect on past good times with loved ones and as individuals doing the things we enjoy. We will look forward to more of the same in the future. However, in lines 2 and 3, Le Roberts seems to be urging us to stop for a moment and relish everyone and everything in our midst—nature, friends, family, and perhaps meditative interludes alone when we can truly fathom our inner selves. Indeed, Tolstoy put it well in The Gospel in Brief (1881),
“And so, be not downcast, but live in the present by the spirit. For the life of the spirit, there is no time.”
As this week’s winner, Theresa 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!
Gita chanting birds become the ellipsis — Kala Ramesh, Triptych,Red Moon Press (2019)