Monica E. Smith

Monica E. Smith

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Haiku for You and Tanka, Too

I love shorter poems for their ability to tell a story, or set a scene (that furthers one's imagination) with just a few words. So it is only natural that I would be drawn to Haiku and Tanka. These ancient Japanese poems have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years, and I find the forms can be brought into the present without any difficulty at all.

Haiku are an ancient form of Japanese unrhymed poetry. They usually will contain a season word ("kigo"), and capture the essence of a moment; they deal with nature itself, or human nature. Older than Haiku, Tanka are similar in nature in that they evoke a moment or mark an occasion, and do so with brevity and musicality. They are always written about nature, the seasons, love, sadness or other strong emotions. There are many specifications for writing these little verses, which I won't go into here. (if you would like to know more about them, there is a wealth of information online).

Autumn has always been my favorite season, and it seems to be so with many writers. There is a seemingly endless supply of writings when googling "autumn". I'd like to mark the passing of yet another summer with a few verses of my own.

Here in Ohio, we're experiencing an early autumn this year. And I couldn't be happier! It seems like we always are in a hurry to get to the next new thing around the corner. But by doing that, we lose sight of what's happening now, and miss so many gifts given by the present. I will not rush autumn away this year with expectation of other good things to come. I intend to enjoy each new colorful day as it unfolds before me.

I have always loved the preparation, the anticipation of things to come almost more than the actual happenings themselves; and it is no less so than with the changing of seasons. Autumn is a death of what was, yes, but also a new birth. Actually, autumn, more than any other season, is a preparation for new life (as is death, I believe). I see it in the changing colors, the dying off of vegetation, the birds and other animals flying or scurrying here and there seemingly planning, organizing, preparing for what is to come.

On a recent camera shoot, I was in awe of what I heard and saw when I actually focused on what was going on around me. I felt I was in another world. Rather than simply walking through nature, taking it for granted, almost ignoring the life around me, I put myself into the picture and became a part of it, celebrated life with all my senses. Leaves were falling, and I enjoyed their smooth windings and turnings and the whoosh as they floated to the earth below. Rain was ever so lightly patting down the drying grasses; and rather than trying to escape it, as we so often do, I welcomed and enjoyed each cool droplet on my skin. Birds and other animals were in a rhythm of busy-ness, calling out to each other and the wind seemed to speak to all of nature, telling it to hurry, hurry, prepare, prepare...

Seemingly, nature gave the call to change course, and all responded. This is remarkable to witness, and no less exciting year after year. I hope your autumn will be as joyful and joy-filled as mine this year.

Two Tanka

I wipe away drops
of moisture from my forehead
the heat of August
steadily fades into fall
as I slowly age with time

the cicada's song
shortens with each passing day
the cycle completes
as his days come to an end
in the waning August heat

Four Haiku

autumn comes calling
mother nature cleans her house...
scattered maple leaves

the tree frogs call out,
serenading each other—
summer is over

gray clouds break apart
cold wind blows in from the north
autumn has arrived

flower petals fade
as autumn approaches

little by little

(music excerpt in this video: The Song of the Japanese Autumn
(Yasuo Kawahara)
from The Concert at the Church of Villamediana (Spain)
recorded August 25, 2005

Early Autumn in West Liberty, Ohio

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