Tuesday, April 1, 2014

To the Lighthouse: Poetics and Politics of Counting Syllables

The proper response to a poem is another poem.  Phyllis Webb, Hanging Fire


First: five syllables
Second: seven syllables
Third: five syllables

New & Selected Poems, 1995

Ron Padgett
(For further discussion , see Poetic Musings: Ron Padgett’s "Haiku")

writing haiku ...
his fingers
numb with counting

Chen-ou Liu

Stop counting syllables,
start counting the dead.

Past All Traps, 2012

Don Wentworth
(For further discussion, see Butterfly Dream: Counting Syllables Haiku by Don Wentworth)

war dead
exit out of a blue mathematics

Sumimura Seirinshi, pub. circa 1937-40

Haiku Monument for Nanking (older Romanization of the city's name), China, 1937

            Nanking  Nanking  Nanking
            Nanking  Nanking  Nanking
            Nanking  Nanking  Nanking
            Nanking  Nanking  Nanking
            Nanking  Nanking  Nanking

Chen-ou Liu

(The poem above was written in response to the following haiku

Nankin o hofurinu toshi mo aratamaru

Hasegawa Sesei

[Nanking] having been destroyed the year too turns anew

trans. by Hiroaki Sato

... Estimated numbers of those killed vary from 20,000 to 300,000. Whatever the number, the infamous rampage makes us pause when we come to Hasegawa's haiku with the heading: "For a while we are within [Nanking] Castle on Guard duty."

Here, Hasegawa Sesei probably used hofuru (root of hofurinu) in the sense of "destroying [the enemy]," and it is so translated, but the verb also means "slaughtering [an animal]," conjuring the image of the entire city's population slaughtered -- excerpted from Hiroaki Sato, "War Haiku and Hasegawa Sesei," Modern Haiku, 45:1, Winter/Spring, 2014, pp. 42-43)

1 comment:

  1. Below is excerpted from the Wikipedia entry, Nanking Massacre:

    The Nanking Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking, was an episode of mass murder and mass rape committed by Japanese troops against Nanking (current official spelling: Nanjing) during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The massacre occurred during a six-week period starting December 13, 1937, the day that the Japanese captured Nanking, which was then the Chinese capital.