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
just one me and this whole sky an orchestra of insect noise — Matthew Moffett, Bones, no. 18 (2019)
Liz Ann Winkler finds interconnectedness:
I delight in the contrasts in this monostitch – the”one me” and the “whole sky,” the “orchestra” with its imagined harmonies and the “noise” of the insects. I feel the interconnection and inclusivity of all life, big and small, noisy and melodic, singular and many.
Karen Harvey explores contrasts:
I like this poem very much. It reminds me of how small and insignificant we can feel when we observe the vastness of the sky. Yet the whole sky is filled with the sound of insects, relatively insignificant creatures, but an army of them is capable of filling the air all around us with sound. There is a great juxtaposition of what feels small and what feels large at play here.
Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă encounters the music in the wonders of nature:
This ku reflects the power of nature to turn man into what he should be: A receptacle of the wonders that roam around him. We can say that the poet suddenly has a revelation: He has reached the stage of his evolution which helps him to understand that he deserves to experience through all the pores of his being the spectacle of the world. Each one of us can be a conductor if he knows how to decipher the musical notes, the signs, which are subtly woven into an infinitesimal network of meanings. The mission is to transform the primary noise, in its many forms, into pure music.
The shape of the poem, a single verse that easily touches you like a feather, ensures fluency, harmony of the transmitted idea. “s,” as a fricative consonant, suggests those whispers of matter/nature that are just waiting to be put in a different pattern, in sheet music for example. Let’s try to think of singing!
Radhamni Sarma discovers a multisensory ensemble:
We may infer that the season behind the poet’s imaginative intent is summer. “the whole sky” creates room for us to imagine that the sky pours out with illuminating stars, the moon, and the blue whole permeates. Below, we are enthralled; the ground is a reflection of what is above in literary, poetic and creative perspectives. “an orchestra of insect noise” weaves into an image the speaker as singer or the notes of excited seclusion becoming an orchestra, or a group instrument analogous to that of summer insects coming out to enjoy, so much so that the insect noise is quite audible. The onomatopoeia is the collective noise made by the insect ensemble. Overall, we find a combination of self and stars taken in its totality, aided by the summer insect “orchestra.”
The singularity of this monoku is in both the auditory and visual images combined to great effect.
Garry Eaton speculates about influence from Yeats:
This one liner might have been inspired by Yeats’ poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” insofar as each focuses on a person escaping from the sterile confines of the city to enjoy communion with nature in the form of insect noises that suggest nature’s productivity. Whatever assortment of insects Matthew heard, he converts them inwardly into a metaphorical orchestra, finding at least some suggestion of unity of purpose in the clammer.
For those who don’t know the Yeats:
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
by William Butler Yeats
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
As this week’s winner, Garry 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!
My two plum trees are so gracious . . . see, they flower One now, one later — Yosa Buson (1716 - 1784)