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
speed of night somewhere beyond the big bang i am a unicorn — Dietmar Tauchner, bones, no. 4 (2014)
Theresa Cancro considers the vastness and timelessness of the universe:
For me, there is a sense of wonder that pervades this haiku, yet Dietmar Tauchner conveys it with a light touch. At first, I wanted to read Line 1 as “speed of light.” However, “speed of night” emphasizes the briefness of a single night and by extension how short our lives are when placed beside the vastness of the universe and time. Then, we have mention of the “big bang,” that cosmic event that created all — the stars, the planets, our Earth, ultimately us. “i am a unicorn” beyond this event could be interpreted variously. I’m seeing the infinitesimal ways the “big bang” could have gone such that anyone, anything for that matter, might have ended up in their present state as a unicorn (although what is “present”? One could write a whole piece on that alone!). The infinite possibilities allow for anything, even a fantastical beast.
Sanela Pliško delves into the possibility of parallel universes:
I love space-themed haiku! L1 makes me immediately think about the speed of light, the speed of darkness, but just as it says – it refers to the speed of night, the absence of the day. Where am I? In L2 I am already just “somewhere.” When and where, “a place” and “time,” as we know them, have not yet been born and it would be impossible to know. Why beyond the Big Bang? I can only suppose that “beyond” is a time reference, and only this orientation gives the author the possibility to be, who he chooses to be, in L3. In any other position, he would be someone or something else. There are many theories about the origin of the Universe, about what happened before or after the Big Bang, and L3 makes us aware that the author chose a theory that supports parallel universes. One of the infinitely many possibilities about where and when each of us is someone or something else, or when or where we can also be who we are now, but maybe a nanometer taller. By not choosing a specific image, person, object, but a “unicorn,” it further expands the inexpressible possibilities of existence in which we can also be characters of our imagination. Maybe, in another universe, I am just a question mark at the end of this sentence?
As this week’s winner, Sanela 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!
Peter's Pence - the village priest arrives in a new luxury sedan — Djurdja Vukelic-Rožić, cattails (April 2019)