Thursday, February 21, 2013

Butterfly Dream: Winter Stars Haiku by Rebecca Drouilhet

English Original

eyes of the ancestors
the twinkle
in winter stars

Rebecca Drouilhet

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Rebecca Drouilhet is a fifty seven year old retired registered nurse.  She first encountered and fell in love with haiku poetry when her mother used  it as part of her curriculum.  She taught classes for the intellectually gifted. Rebecca enjoy reading and writing haiku, playing word games and spending time with her large family.

(authorial note: L1 refers to a North American Indian legend. The Inuit , formerly known as Eskimo, have a star legend that says the night sky is full of holes. After death the ancestors peer through the holes at the happenings on earth to keep an eye on the living.)


  1. i) Armed with Extra-Textual Knowledge

    L1, “eyes of the ancestors,” refers to the centuries-old story told above, setting a thematic context for the poem.
    On the surface Ls 2&3 refer to this old story above; However, read in the socio-politico-economic context of the fate/destiny of North American aboriginal peoples, the use of a seasonal reference (winter), which successfully makes a thematic shift with a psychological bent, adds emotional weight to the poem. Most importantly, the “twinkle” is now layered with multiple meanings.

    This haiku is timely, emotionally poignant, and sociopolitically conscious.

    ii) Without Extra-Textual Knowledge.

    For most readers who live in urbanized environments, L1 doesn’t seem to be realistic or truthful due to the impossibility of physically seeing the eyes of one’s ancestors. Therefore, the reader is encouraged to read L1 symbolically, such as the window into the ancestral world.

    And structurally speaking, L2, the twinkle, is well-placed, creating image play (twinkling eyes vs twinkling stars). This shift (from human to natural/scenic) creates a psychological effect on the reader’s mind: the disruption of semantic expectation.

    (editorial note: the Chinese people living in the rural areas today can still go to their ancestral temples to see the eyes of the ancestors whose portraits/photos on the walls)