Thursday, May 2, 2013

Butterfly Dream: Red Leaves Haiku by Peggy Willis Lyles

English Original

into the afterlife red leaves

Finalist, 2010 Touchstone Awards

Peggy Willis Lyles

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Peggy Willis Lyles was born in Summerville, South Carolina, on September 17, 1939. She died in Tucker, Georgia on September 3, 2010. A former English professor, she was a leading haiku writer for over 30 years -- helping bring many readers and writers into the haiku community -- excerpted from To Hear the Rain: Selected Haiku of Peggy Lyles edited by  Randy M . Brooks

Editorial Note:

The following haiku is the opening poem in "Section Two: Featured Haiku," Ripples from a Splash: A Collection of Haiku Essays with Award-Winning Haiku by Chen-ou Liu

river's edge
red leaves fall
into a poem

in memory of Peggy Willis Lyles
who helped me publish my first English language haiku

and in response to one of  her one-line haiku


  1. Comments from the Panel Touchstone Awards for 2010, which can be accessed at

    Buddhists believe the River Styx separates the world of the dead from the world of living. Red spider lilies bloom on the shore on the side of the living. In previous life cycles, we could be those red leaves falling to the ground. We may have no memory of previous lives and will not know who and what will be in our next lives, but somewhere in those repeating cycles, our paths will cross with the one who entered the other world before us . . . Though the judging of this contest has been done on a semi-blind basis, these poems have all been published and the best of them may have caught a judge’s attention when they first appeared in print—this is certainly the case with this poem.

  2. Below is an excerpt from the blog post of "Silliman's Blog," dated Wednesday, March 14, 2012 and accessed at

    into the afterlife red leaves

    is a complete work by Peggy Willis Lyles and not atypical of a lot that has gone on in haiku in recent decades. There is no way of missing that this is an autumn poem, as traditional as haiku can be, whether or not you choose to pigeon-hole red as an instance of kigo. More significant is the fact that it’s a one-liner, which would be not at all atypical for Japanese haiku, but until recently was rare in English. This is an area in which non-haiku one-liners in the 1970s by poets like Robert Grenier & Aram Saroyan have actually had an impact far from the fields of the New York School or language poetry, empowering haiku to be more itself. The same is true for the absence of any verb here, tho it is worth noting that this device in American haiku is as old as “Station at the Metro.

  3. The Panel comments interest me a lot. However, the Panel forgot that "leaves" don't belong to any of the Buddhist Six Realms of Existence.

    And in my haiku, I made a dual allusion: first to Peggy's one-liner and then to Bob Boldman's:

    leaves blowing into a sentence