I have explained even his
departure from 5-7-5 syllables as free haiku. If poets were so
convention-bound, how could world read blank verse and various
new forms?. Let me correct some of the impressions of the
reviewer. First, even Basho’s "old pond" haiku is
considered very controversial and some of the critics have
assailed it as "darkly mysterious to understand" (H.G.
Henderson). Again, the reviewer levels a charge of
anthropomorphism which he considers alien to haikus. This too
stems from his entire focus on Basho, Issa and their
followers. Haikus have gone even to attribute feeling to
mountains and not only animals.
following from Higginson’s "Haiku World" (1996):
Hills smile, a traditional figure of speech for hills in
springtime, from an old saying: "Spring hills faintly
melting seem to smile; summer hills of pale green seem to
trickle; autumn hills bright and clean seem all dressed up;
winter hills faintly sad seem to sleep."
translated: Mountains laugh./ Never say Hiroshima’s
mountains/ are laughing.
credentials about art are not identifiable from the text and,
therefore, do not need any comments. But after writing 10,000
words and evaluating it against the world’s best masters,
how the reviewer has nothing to write home about? The
conclusion does not flow from the text. There is certainly
need of more homework. Against this, I will like to remind him
that poetry has many emotional and subjective elements. It is
a private experience but its value consists in evoking
feelings of the reader. These feelings of the reader need not
be completely identical to the poet’s vision.
nothing like a final word on a poem. The Poetry Society of
India’s journal carries the following comments about the
same book by Sankaranarayanan: "But it is one’s
imagination that gives it more and more meaning. These haikus
by Professor N.K. Singh and Petra Golob are not strictly
haikus if one goes by the number of syllables (‘free haikus’
is how the author describes it). Nonetheless, in its essential
meaning these haikus are successful. Published in a handy size
with an evocative cover, this book is a treat for anyone who
likes to ponder over life in a leisurely manner."
The origin of haiku may be
spontaneous but its craft depends on a lot of structural and
exacting norms. This process, which is the essence of the
haiku art, has no spontaneity. It is like a jeweller’s craft
after "the feeling" has been caught. In fact haikus
represent a delicate balance between spontaneous feeling like
what Zen called "Satori" and subsequent craft.
These, however, are continuously changing within a broad
framework of methodology. One who argues for spontaneity
should not get enmeshed in traditional marshes. As Dr Yasuda
in his book "Japanese Haiku" puts it, "All
haiku worthy of the name are records of...an insight."
This is the only rule of haiku without exception.