Friday, March 15, 2013

One Man's Maple Moon: Midnight Mass Tanka by Ignatius Fay

English Original

the others
off to midnight Mass
in the dark
Basil Rathbone reads
Masque of the Red Death

Breccia, 2012

Ignatius Fay

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Ignatius Fay is a retired invertebrate paleontologist. His poems have appeared in many of the most respected online and print journals, including The Heron’s Nest, Modern Haiku, Ars Poetica, Gusts, Chrysanthemum and Eucalypt. Books: Breccia (2012), a collaboration with fellow haiku poet, Irene Golas; Points In Between (2011), an anecdotal history of his first 23 years. He is the new editor of the Haiku Society of America Bulletin. Ignatius resides in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.


  1. Below is an excerpt from "The Bright Eyes of Eleonora: Poe's Dream of Recapturing the Impossible,” in Winter Hours by Mary Oliver, pp. 47-8

    ...[Poe] writes about our own inescapable destiny.

    His words and he valor are all he has, and they are stunning. When in "The Masque of the Red Death," the stranger who is really nothing but an empty cloak enters and slays the Prince, it is Poe and it is ourselves with him who rush forward and batter hopelessly against incomprehensibility, with our frail fists, with "the wild courage of despair."

    And listen to Basil Rathbone reading Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death, “

    Basil Rathbone's distinctive voice and clear diction made him a popular narrator of stories.

  2. The comparisons are highlighted by Ignatius's thematically skillful use of Poe's short story and emotionally effective use of Basil Rathbone.

    Below is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry entitled The Masque of the Red Death,

    "The Masque of the Red Death", originally published as "The Mask of the Red Death" (1842), is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The story follows Prince Prospero's attempts to avoid a dangerous plague known as the Red Death by hiding in his abbey. He, along with many other wealthy nobles, has a masquerade ball within seven rooms of his abbey, each decorated with a different color. In the midst of their revelry, a mysterious figure disguised as a Red Death victim enters and makes his way through each of the rooms. Prospero dies after confronting this stranger, whose "costume" proves to have nothing tangible inside it; the guests also die in turn. The story follows many traditions of Gothic fiction and is often analyzed as an allegory about the inevitability of death, though some critics advise against an allegorical reading. Many different interpretations have been presented, as well as attempts to identify the true nature of the titular disease.