The true power of a haiku as a form comes from its economy and the simplicity of the image that it evokes. This open-ended image made visible as a glimpse of a scene or into a landscape, taps into larger philosophical and often existential questions of the human experience. The haiku is also indicative of a more contemplative way of life and thought that emphasizes looking at the world, seeing process of transformations in their depths and slowness. In a world reeling under a pandemic and forced into isolation and introspection, the haiku is a reminder that a slower way of life is never irrelevant. It is centered on those experiences, explorations and sensations that essentially make us human. Here are a few haikus describing beautiful scenes of seasonal change and with them kernels of universal truth. The haikus have been taken from Haiku: An Anthology of Japanese Poems, by Stephen Addiss and Fumiko and Akira Yamamoto, published by Shambhala Publications in 2011.
The spring sun shows its power between snowfalls -Shigeyori Not in a hurry to blossom- plum tree at my gate -Issa The warbler wipes its muddy feet on plum blossoms -Issa Is the dawn, too, still embraced by hazy moon? -Chōsui Over the violets a small breeze passes by -Ontei Each time the wind blows the butterfly sits anew on the willow -Bashō Spring chill- above the rice paddies rootless clouds -Hekigodō Crazed by flowers surprised by the moon— a butterfly -Chora Misty day- they might be gossiping horses in the field -Issa Out from the darkness back into the darkness affairs of the cat -Issa On the temple bell perching and sleeping a butterfly -Buson Flower petals set the mountains in motion— cherry blossoms -Hōitsu Summer rains— leaves of the plum the colour of cold wind -Saimaro Alone, silently- the bamboo shoot becomes a bamboo -Santōka At the sound of the sea the sunflowers open their black eyes -Yūji Dragonfly on a rock absorbed in a daydream -Santōka On a withered branch linger the evanescent memory of a cicada’s voice -Kagai A rinse of vermilion poured from the setting sun, and then autumn dusk -Taigi Snow falls on snow- and remains silent. -Santōka In the abandoned boat dashing sliding- hail -Shiki Sharing one umbrella- the person more in love gets wet -Keisanjin Having given my opinion I return home to my wife’s opinion. -Yachō