Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Butterfly Dream: Butterfly Haiku by Robert Kania

English Original

butterfly --
I remember

The Heron's Nest, 16:1, March 2014

Robert Kania

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

蝴蝶 --

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

蝴蝶 --

Bio Sketch

Robert Kania lives in Warsaw, Poland. He began writing poetry in 2011. His haiku and haiga have appeared in The Heron's Nest, The Mainichi, Asahi Haikuist Network, A Hundred Gourds, World Haiku Review, KUZU, Diogen, DailyHaiga and World Haiku Association. He is the prize winner of the 15th HIA Haiku Contest 2013, and currently the co-editor (with Krzysztof Kokot) of the European Quarterly Kukai. His blog is:


  1. "Physical metamorphosis" (as indicated in L1) juxtaposed with "cognitive inactivity" of remembering (as portrayed in Ls 2&3) sparks the reader's reflection.

    And evaluated in the thematic context of Japanese butterfly haiku, Robert's haiku could be read as a parodic allusion to Zhuangzi's butterfly dream.

  2. The title of the section name, Butterfly Dream, refers to one of the famous stories recorded in the Zhuangzi (pinyin) or Chuang Tzu (Wade-Giles):

    “Once [Zhuangzi] dreamt he was a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was [Zhuangzi.] Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable [Zhuangzi]. But he didn't know if he was [Zhuangzi] who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was [Zhuangzi.] Between [Zhuangzi] and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.” 13

    In the first haiku lexicon, Yama no I (Mountain Spring published in 1647), there is an explanatory passage under the entry titled Butterfly: “Butterfly. The scene of a butterfly alighting on rape blossoms, napping among flowers with no worries. Its appearance as it flutters its feathery wings, dancing like whirling snowflakes. Also the image is associated with [Zhuangzi’s] dream, suggesting that one hundred years pass as a gleam in a butterfly’s dream.” 14 To demonstrate how to use this butterfly imagery, the compiler Kigin gives the following example:

    Scattering blossoms:
    the dream of a butterfly –
    one hundred years in a gleam 15

    For more info., see "To the Lighthouse: Zhuangzi's Butterfly Dream," which can be accessed at