Shamrock Haiku Journal

Haiku from Ireland and the rest of the world


Issue 9

 

Shamrock

 

Haiku Journal

of the Irish Haiku Society


Shamrock Haiku Journal enters the third year of its existence. In the previous two years we have published eight issues, in which we showcased works by two hundred and seventy-two poets who represented thirty-eight countries. We are graterful to all our contributors, and declare our intention to further broaden the geographical scope of our publications.



Announcement

Shamrock Haiku Journal Readers' Choice Award 2008

 

The following piece by Graham Nunn (Australia) published in our No 5 was voted the best haiku poem that appeared in Shamrock Haiku Journal in 2008:

 

lookout point
the stones
share our silence
 



One of our authors who voted for this haiku supplied the following comment about it:

As well as providing fresh insight, this haiku evokes for me a
tremendous sense of awe. The writer in present tense, and the ancient
stones are together silent. Looking out and beyond. Awesome.


The close runners-up were a haiku by Vasile Moldovan (Romania) published in our No 8:


winter sun
in the snowman's eyes
first tears


and the following piece by Martin Vaughan (Ireland)  that appeared in Shamrock No 7:

 

sunburst -
scent of wild garlic
fills the garden



A piece by Sergey Biryukov (Russia) was voted the best one-line haiku published in Shamrock Haiku Journal in 2008:



out of the empty sleeve   steam

  (First published in Shamrock Haiku Journal No 5. Incidentally, translated by the editor)

 

Many congratulations to the winners!


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Focus on

Poland



calm sea -
above me and below me,
a row of clouds



clear sky
the garden hose
paints a rainbow


-- Agnieszka Adamska (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





a night at the motel -
light from passing
furniture vans



from my neighbour's house,
only the voice
of a crying doll



forest brook
an autumn leaf drifts
toward shore


-- Magdalena Banaszkiewicz (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





new moon -
out of the fragrance of damsons,
nightingale's warble



cloudless sky
the wind swaying the ears
of flowering flax



weeping willow -
instead of leaves,
raindrops



distant mountains -
through the blue haze,
ruins of a castle



All Souls' Day -
over the old grave,
a wingless angel


-- Grażyna Kaźmierczak (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





away from home -
even the birds sing
in a foreign tongue



empty street
the wind brings
the sound of flute



birds' twittering
morning mist
clears away



rainy evening -
over the stove, mushrooms
drying on a thread



river mist -
from the other shore,
woodpecker's knock


-- Maria Kowal (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





abandoned fort
a rusty cannon sinks
into jasmine


-- Rafał Leniar (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





Saturday
the wedding procession
passes a funeral train



autumn park
on the stone chessboard,
a few chestnuts



village graveyard
black soil and fresh flowers
scattered on the snow


-- Artur Lewandowski (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky and the author)




Sunday lunch -
sitting in my father's place
for the first time



golden autumn
more and more butterflies
with pale wings


-- Artur Lewandowski (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





autumn
the smell of mushrooms
in a suburban bus



fog over the meadows
yet again, my father forgets
his macintosh



pond
a couple of swans
sail from cloud to cloud



autumn fog
a narrow ravine
full to the brim



cold evening -
over the dimming campfire,
a thousand stars


-- Damian Margolak (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





how deep the silence!
in the spider's web,
a grasshoper



abandoned house
a mossy pool
dotted with tadpoles



old bridge
a falling fragment
breaks the moon



spring rain -
in the cherry orchard
white speckles on mud



old door -
over the worn threshold,
New Year's frost


-- Jacek Margolak (transl. by the author and Anatoly Kudryavitsky)






river breeze -
sticking out from the reeds,
long fishing rods



misty meadows
jingle bells
from both ends



Russian acrobats
cold rain tapping
on the circus tent



spring thurderstorm
old gentleman opens
his umbrella for me



calm breeze
enough to scent
a flowering orchard


-- Aneta Michelucci (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)






rainy day -
on the office steps,
an unemployed sparrow


-- Robert Naczas (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





dawn over the lake -
so cold
the blue sky!



empty nest
bare branches next to
my mother's house



pheasants in the meadow
another bus leaving
without me



late evening -
on the sheet of paper,
a shadow pen



nightingale in the evening -
closing my eyes
to hear


-- Mariusz Ogryzko (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





end of summer
the wind erasing
footprints



spring cleaning
rustling leaves
in the attic




last turn in the road -
from my house, the smell
of apple pie



end of winter
only the birch
still in white



wet night -
wherever I set my foot,
the moon


-- Katarzyna Prędota (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





autumn sun 
a leaf falls
onto its shadow



cold morning -
in the trash, a tramp
and a few birds



All Souls' Day
fresh leaves
between the graves



listening to silence -
fallen leaves
at Chopin's monument



winter garden
the fence's shadow separates
white from white


-- Dorota Pyra (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





procession of clouds
flowers on her hat
darker



thunderclap
the sparrowless branch
up and down



empty road -
in the old ruts,
fresh snow



morning calm -
between the light and the dark,
a spider's web



first date
nightingale's song
louder


-- Bronisława Sibiga (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





awakening -
the rain from my dream
still falling



wild mustard field
warm wind brings along
the scent of honey



summer breeze
shadows of clouds crawling
along the beach



frosty morning -
between two branches,
the skeleton of a kite



broken mirror
in each splinter
the same pair of eyes


-- Grzegorz Sionkowski (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





awakening
view from my window
still the same


-- Mateusz Sionkowski (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





loneliness
nothing but advertisements
in my letterbox


-- Marek Szyryk (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





no stars
only snowflakes
in the lantern light



four empty walls
even my own voice
unrecognisable



last walk on the beach
her shadow has
longer legs



spring wind
again the same quiet whistle
under her daughter's window



autumn drizzle -
on the washing line,
only raindrops


-- Juliusz Wnorowski (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





catching my breath -
from a deep vale,
the roaring of a tractor



a churchyard oak -
at my granny's grave,
a squirrel and I



lightning in the sky
the sound of drumming
from an upturned bucket



sea of poppies
each blast of wind
followed by a wave



path in the forest
out of the mist,
woodpecker's knock


-- Rafał Zabratyński (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)






large shrine on the meadow:
a feral animal
open to the skies


-- Adam Zagajewski (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)


---------------------------<->----------------------------


Essay

A Brief History of Polish Haiku

 

by Rafał Zabratyński



Shortly after Poland regained its independence after the First World War Polish literature became more receptive to new literary trends, including those coming from oriental countries. However, the first Polish study of Japanese literature was published in the book entitled Historja literatury chińskiej i japońskiej (A History of Chinese and Japanese Literature, Warsaw, 1901) by Julian Adolf Święcicki. As far as translations of Japanese poems are concerned, the first compilation titled Sintaisi-sho, poeci nowo-japońscy (Sintaisi-sho, Modern Japanese Poets) by Antoni Lange was published in Warsaw in 1908. In this book we also find a concise history of Japanese literature in the 19th century.

In 1927, first Polish translations of haiku appeared in the essay by Stefan Łubieński entitled "Sztuka słowa i pieśniarstwa" (The Art of Word and Song); it was included in the book called Między Wschodem a Zachodem. Japonia na straży Azji. (Between the East and the West. Japan Guarding Asia).

After the Second World War the Communists came to power in Poland. This fact accounts for considerably limited interactions between Polish authors and the outside literary world. Socialist realism dominated the Polish literary scene pushing all the other literary trends to the sidelines. That was the reason why no haiku translations could be published in our country in those times. This accounts for the fact that the first Polish anthology of classical haiku Godzina dzikiej kaczki (The Hour of a Wild Duck) appeared in 1966 in Great Britain; it was compiled and edited by Aleksander Janta-Połczyński.

Haiku resurfaced in Polish periodicals only in 1975, notably in the "Poezja" (Poetry) monthly, one of the co-editors of which was Stanisław Grochowiak. For the first time the whole issue of a Polish magazine was completely dedicated to haiku, comprising several translations of Bashō's haiku and a detailed essay by Prof. Wiesław Kotański , which he called "Japoński siedemnastozgłoskowiec haiku" (Japanese Seventeen-Syllable Haiku). The first Polish poet to include haiku in his collection was Leszek Engelking. His book published in 1979 was called Autobus do hotelu Cytera (A Bus to the Cytera Hotel).

The decade commencing in 1980 saw a considerable proliferation of Polish literary works inspired by oriental philosophy; haiku in particular. However, a turning point in the changing attitude towards haiku was in 1983, the year when an anthology of classical Japanese haiku appeared in Poland. The editor Agnieszka Żuławska-Umeda simply called it Haiku. The book was fitted with an introductory essay, the translator's commentary, several reproductions of Japanese paintings, samples of calligraphy, as well as a closing essay on the history of haiku in Japan written by Mikołaj Melanowicz.

The 1990s witnessed a plentiful crop of haiku and related poems in Poland. Czesław Miłosz, one of the Polish Nobel Prize winners for Literature, translated a collection of classical Japanese and contemporary American and Canadian haiku from English, and in 1992 published his translations in the book entitled Haiku. This book provoked an enormous interest in haiku among Polish readers.

The next quality publication followed shortly. In 1993, Antologia kanadyjskiego haiku (An Anthology of Canadian Haiku) edited by Ewa Tomaszewska hit the shelves of Polish bookshops. From November 1994 to November 1995, five issues of the magazine Haiku edited by the poet Robert Szybiak appeared in Warsaw.

At the very beginning of the twenty-first century the first national anthology of Polish haiku finally appeared in our country; it was called Antologia polskiego haiku (Anthology of Polish Haiku) and edited by Ewa Tomaszewska. This study, that also included an introduction about Japanese influences on the European culture and art, was an invaluable source of information on the history of haiku in Poland, as well as on the status quo in contemporary Polish haiku. It showcased more than six hundred haiku and haiku-like poems by nearly eighty Polish authors, and spanned ninety-six years (1905 to 2001).

In recent years the number of haiku poets in Poland has been growing constantly. There are now several groups of haiku poets, all rather informal.

The one that came to being earlier than the other has poets born in Silesia, a region in south-west Poland. The leader of the group, Felix Szuta, is an important writer and promoter of haiku in our country. He is the editor of "Pileus", a literary supplement to "Gazeta Chojnowska" (a local magazine from Chojnow) that published quite a number of haiku by local authors. In 2001, members of the group founded the Association of Polish Haiku Authors in Legnica. This is probably the only formal haiku association in our country. There is another, a smaller group of Silesian haiku poets who gathered around their leader, Krzysztof Karwowski. They mostly publish their works in the periodical booklet called "Pagina".

There is a prolific group of haijin located in Gdańsk, the city regarded as an important cultural centre in Northern Poland. The members of the group won a few awards and commendations in prestigious national and international haiku contests. In 2001, Piotr Szczepański won the Third Prize in the 6th International Kusamakura Haiku Competition. In 2009, Dorota Pyra won the Grand Prize in the 2009 Shiki Special Kukai in memory of William J. Higginson. There is also a large number of creatively active authors who are not associated with any particular haiku group. The Polish haiku scene also includes a few authors living and writing abroad, e.g. Krzysztof Jeżewski (Paris) and Lidia Rozmus (USA).

One of the most original Polish haiku writers is Dariusz Brzóska Brzóskiewicz. He is also a performer, and is known to promote the younger generation poets. Brzóskiewicz wrote haiku for TV programs and collaborated with a few well-known Polish musicians on the artistic project called "Haiku Fristajl" (Freestyle Haiku). It resulted in a CD released in 2006, which has haiku in Polish and Japanese as lyrics. Brzóskiewicz also published a volume of his haiku entitled Haiku Brzóski (Haiku of Brzóska, 2007).

Poland has many good haiku poets whose works are available mostly on the Internet. They take part in various haiku forums, where they can workshop and showcase their poems. Talking of Polish literary online forums, arguably the biggest of them is "Serwis poetycki - [email protected]" (Poetic Website - [email protected]), the address of which is http://www.poezja.org). It has a big number of portals dedicated to various literary genres. One of them is fully dedicated to haiku, and attracts a number of prolific poets, some of which have texts on these pages, e.g. Maria Kowal, Jacek Margolak and Aneta Michelucci. A few of them won awards and commendations in prestigious national and international haiku contests, e.g. Marek Kozubek (the Annual Suruga Baika Literary Prize, Lyrical Passion Poetry E-Zine contests) and Katarzyna Bielińska (the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational).

In 2005, Grzegorz Sionkowski launched a new Internet forum, which he called "forum.haiku.pl" (http://forum.haiku.pl). It seems to be the biggest Polish haiku site on the Internet. Some of the participants also have their texts here, e.g. Magdalena Banaszkiewicz, Artur Lewandowski, Robert Naczas, Mariusz Ogryzko, Katarzyna Prędota, Dorota Pyra, Bronisława Sibiga, Grzegorz Sionkowski, Juliusz Wnorowski, Rafał Zabratyński. Most of them have their own personal websites or run haiku blogs.

Another valuable haiku resource appeared on the Internet in 2007 when Grzegorz Sionkowski started "mała antologia haiku po polsku" (a small anthology of haiku in Polish) (http://antologia.haiku.pl). It currently presents almost three hundred quality haiku written by more than fifty authors.

Summing up, I would like to mention that in 2003 we had an important haiku gathering in our country. It was International Haiku Conference held in the Cracow Center of Art and Japanese Technology, "Manggha". The motto of that conference was "With haiku into the 21st Century".

As it happens, we still don't have a nationwide haiku association, which hinders Polish haiku groups from steady contacts between them. Another obstacle is a lack of translations of classical Japanese haiku, as well as of contemporary haiku written in the main European languages. Also, we don't have Polish translations of some important works on the theory of haiku (e.g. the oeuvre of R. H. Blyth), nor have we Polish-language versions of the main haiku handbooks (e.g. of those by William J. Higginson and Jane Reichhold). As a result, we are facing the spreading of short-form haiku-like poems that don't have the essence of haiku, whereas real haiku are rare. Nevertheless, it is heartening that more and more Polish haijin not only publish their works in international anthologies, magazines and e-zines but also win awards and commendations in prestigious national and international haiku contests. This means that Poland appears to be clearly noticeable on the modern haiku map.


Rafał Zabratyński is a haiku poet and the moderator of http://forum.haiku.pl

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In the Beginning by Marek Bogacki Staszkiewicz (Poland/Ireland)




------------------------<>------------------------




Haiku and Senryu


St. Patrick's Day -
expats form
a snake

 

 

start of the season
the myna bird rehearses
its builder's whistle  

 

 

old road
the sky as full
of potholes

 

 

Boxing Day
a fork-lift truck
laden with mist


-- Helen Buckingham (England)





ants trail across the trail the morning breeze



lifted by salt wind the stonechat's tail



slowly through the corn stubble long legs of thoroughbreds



godwits twist into twilight cold of the marsh



gathering the piebalds what's left of the sun


-- John Barlow (England)





elms in bud
a clutch of old leaves
whispering



summer rain
the street jacaranda's
deepest bow



snake country the length of the shortcut



slack tide
a sea eagle's shadow
skimming


-- Lorin Ford (Australia)





resting on the riverside railings a jackdaw and me

 

 

across the old rifle range spent burdock

 

 

slow tributary
a water vole's egress
between the rushes


-- Matthew Paul (England)




 

chalk hills
against blue winter sky -
ghosts of butterflies



first sticky buds
the cling
of morning light



against the mist's grain
wake of six ducks
quacking through


-- Diana Webb (England)





island holiday...
a cockatoo wolf-whistles
passers-by



heatwave
first light moving a chive pot
into the shade



workman's tea break
morning sunlight splits
the steam


-- Cynthia Rowe (Australia)





floating upriver
the garbage barge
with seagulls

 

 

paw prints
disappear in the snow
wind under the hemlocks



leaf shadows
clinging to the mountainside...
solar winds


-- Raffael de Gruttola (USA)





train whistle
across the midnight moon -
an owl hoots



red fox sprints
across the road in front...
chores waiting at home



twilight turn of tide -
the rising moon pulls sand
between my toes


-- Rodney Williams (Australia)





the busy tongues
of barnacles -
tide-pool sunrise



creak
of the old dock
frozen in ice



spring melt -
elk graze
on the ninth green


-- Patrick M. Pilarski (Canada)





Christmas holidays
the night journey sparkles
with stars



morning
after the night before
whirr of wasps



loud cry
of the new born
morning light


-- Dawn Bruce (Australia)





hunter's moon
a searchlight
scans the sky



icy bus stop
two strangers share
a streetlamp's glow



day moon
the snow prints
of bare feet


-- William Cullen Jr. (USA)





rain at dawn
a glittering spider-web
bars my path



five fields away
the rookery creche
calls for breakfast


-- Pat Metcalfe (England)





thistle down
fluffs in tufts of wind -
distant taps



a broken vee
of geese reunite -
pipe smoke


-- DM Holmes (USA)





at the top
of the stop sign,
trumpet vine



looking at himself
in the glass
he polishes


-- Philip Miller (USA)





steaming
after a bath
snow in the back yard



Kamakura Bay
same smell and sound of surf
on Bull Island


-- Sean O'Connor (Ireland)





patchwork sunrise
through the leafless trees
red cardinals



after the snowstorm
sun lights tulip fruit on tree
to bronze


-- Breid Sibley (Ireland)





tropical storm
sunflower petals fall
on dead leaves



rising sun...
a roadside beggar
in Buddha's pose


-- Nana Fredua-Agyeman (Ghana)





policemen
saying "Go home"
to a homeless man

-- Cheryl Daytec-Yangot (Philippines)





autumn breeze
a thrush sings away
into the blue


-- Terry O'Connor (Ireland)





chaffinch sings
the first song of spring
traffic noise


-- Juliet Wilson (Scotland)





falling snow
the postman's footprints
into the white


-- Lex Joy (USA)





fir tree dark
against winter sky
pen and paper


-- Joanna M. Weston (Canada)





city lights   stars clad in mist


-- Sabih Uddin Omar (Bangladesh)





midnight silence -
in a brass gong,
full moon


-- Judith Johnson (Australia)





early spring
the same crocus
under the maple tree


-- Bernard Gieske (USA)


---------------------------<->----------------------------



Haibun


Intrusions


by Richard Krawiec (USA)



Another glorious autumn day with my lover, tainted by phone calls and notes from her middle-aged son. Before we leave for church he calls to say he has to pick up his mail, forwarded to her when he moved back from a disastrous 3 months out West to 'find' his life. On the way to church he calls again to tell her what time he'll be there. After church, as we drive to a festival, he calls once more; he's lost the house key and can't find a way in.

Late afternoon, a warm, orange sun slides below the horizon of low roofs. Before we stroll down the leaf-patterned streets, she first calls to make sure he got inside all right. We return to her place to find a note of thanks and apology atop her laptop computer; he used to visit porn sites at her house. I stare at the photos on the refrigerator; her grown son, beaming; a stumbling toddler.

It takes a few minutes to check the bedroom. The previous week, he'd left his shirt draped atop my saxophone case. Nothing this time. We slip into our robes, open a bottle of wine, sit by the fire, dwindled now to embers.

dead leaves fall
unable to prime the cold
lawnmower

---------------------------<->----------------------------



Book Review


Walden by Haiku
By Ian Marshall
The University of Georgia Press
240 pp, ISBN-13: 978-0-8203-3288-8
Available via
http://www.ugapress.org


This ample book contains haiku reworking of a number of fragments from Henry David Thoreau's Walden. Ian Marshal extracted haiku ideas from the book and went on to write nearly three hundred haiku poems based upon the Thoreau's book.

Walden (first published in 1854 as Walden; or, Life in the Woods) gives an account of Thoreau's stay in a cabin in a woodland area near Walden Pond, not far from Concord, Massachusetts. As Thoreau mentioned in his book, his cabin was not in wilderness but rather at the edge of the town, in which his family home was. Apparently, Thoreau didn't intend to live as a recluse. He visited other people, and had visitors himself. His main idea was to isolate himself from society, so that, seeing it from the outside, he could understand it better. Thoreau's experiment in simple living and attempted self-sufficiency ensured that the book became one of the best-known American non-fiction books.

Interestingly enough, Walden was written by the author who never heard of haiku. In his turn, Ian Marshall is a Professor of English and a haiku specialist. His main task in this book was to find similarities between Thoreau's prose and the art of haiku. Marshall's literary experiment begins with the first part of Walden, Economy, where Thoreau describes his idea of staying in a small cabin in the woods for twenty-six months. He also calculates his earnings and spendings while he constructs his house and buys and grows his food. In this chapter, as in the following ones, Marshall examines Thoreau's aesthetic principles. While Thoreau was talking about economy, Ian Marshall ponders upon "economy" as the essence of haiku. He mentions one of the main principles of haiku - hosomi, which he translates as "spareness", or "slenderness", or, if I may add my own version, "thrift". This, of course, applies to haiku poets' work with words.

One of the examples of hosomi, i.e. haiku economy, given in the book is the following piece, which could even have been written as a one-liner:


a borrowed axe
returned
sharper



Another piece that I liked here is this:


trying to hear
what is in the wind
I lose my own breath


In the next chapter, Where I Lived, and What I Lived For, Thoreau describes the way he survived in the cabin: he "lived desperately, to front only the essential facts of life." Marshall here talks of another haiku principle, wabi, i.e. the fact that haiku often reflect on desolation and poverty as necessary preconditions for spiritual richness.

The chapter titled Reading conveys the author's idea that classical (here, mostly Greek and Latin) literature is and will always be superiour to popular fiction, widespead in that part of Massachusetts (even in those days!)

Here's one of the pieces (re)created as a haiku (or rather as a senryu) by Ian Marshall:


books
the oldest and best
stand on the shelves


The next chapter, Sounds, has, according to Ian Marshall, more haiku moments than any other. Thoreau here states that one should experience life itself not relying too much on literature as a way to reach transcendence. He meticulously describes all the sounds he hears from his cabin: frogs croaking, owls hooting, cows mooing, church bells ringing; train whistle is criticised for being an alien sound!


frog tr-r-r-oonk
round again and again
that there be no mistake


The following chapters are called Visitors (Thoreau describes here some visitors to his cabin), and The Bean-Field, in which Thoreau describes his efforts to cultivate two and a half acres of beans. A possible pun: "bean field" - "being field" makes Marshall talk about the usage of puns in haiku. Actually, I can contribute another pun - "being filled" - to this - in case somebody collects them.

In The Village Thoreau describes his regular visits to Concord, in those days a small town in Massachusetts, to learn the news, which he finds "as refreshing in its way as the rustle of the leaves." Marshall here suggests that haiku have a social dimension, and talks about linked verse, haikai-no-renga.

The following chapter is called The Ponds. Ponds are "lovelier than diamonds," says Thoreau. This is where the reader has a right to expect good haiku, and Marshall duly provides some:


huckleberries
to know the flavor
ask the partridge


the old pond
not one wrinkle
after all its ripples


In Baker Farm Thoreau describes how he got caught in a rainstorm and had to take shelter in the hut of John Field, a poor Irish immigrant trying hard to make some extra money for his family.


sitting out a storm
under that part of the roof
which leaks the least


Higher Laws is Thoreau's apologia of vegetarianism, chastity, teetotalism and diligence.


an impulse to eat woodchuck
not for my hunger
but for his wildness


Brute Neighbors is a chapter about wild animals, his neighbors at Walden. Marshall finds in Thoreau's work two of the Zen qualities described by R.H. Blyth: grateful acceptance and love. Thoreau is prepared to love all the creatures, even if he disapproves of their behaviour.


red ants and black ants
their Battle of Concord
fighting for principle


House-Warming. Having picked berries in the forest, Thoreau also gathers firewood and tries to make his cabin more or less cold-proof before the arrival of winter. Here Marshall talks about using alliteration and assonance in haiku writing.


a lamp
to lengthen out the day
a sharper blast from the north


Former Inhabitants; and Winter Visitors. Thoreau narrates the stories of those who used to live near Walden Pond, and then mentions a few people who visited him throughout the winter.


a slave's epitaph
the date he died
telling me he had lived


Winter Animals. Again, a very haiku-like background, upon which Marshall draws:


light-footed hare
putting the forest
between us


Here Marshall talks about karumi, or the lightness of haiku, and also about using the juxtaposition of contrasting images. He concludes that a haiku poet has to find the right "degree of separation" between such images.

The Pond in Winter. Here Marshall talks about using metaphors in haiku, and why haiku poets tend to avoid them.

Spring. In this chapter Thoreau describes the thaw and the melting of the ponds. As nature is reborn, so is he, says the writer - and leaves Walden.


a grass-blade
streams from the sod
into summer


Thoreau - and Marshall after him - talk here about living in the present. Marshall quotes Basho who once said that "haiku is simply what is happening in this place at this moment."

In the final chapter entitled Conclusion Thoreau criticises conformity: "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." Marshall transforms Thoreau's phrase "There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star" into a poem:


more day to dawn
the sun
but a morning star


In the second part of the book, Marshall takes to explain how he actually found the haiku in Thoreau's text, and quotes the fragments of Walden, in which he attempted to highlight the imagery.

Talking about haiku reworking of classical texts, the main questions is, do the resulting texts stand up as original poems? In this case the answer is yes. I wouldn't go as far as to say that all of them are destined to stand the test of time but there's a great number of quality poems in the book, which will surely appease the appetite of haiku lovers. Marshall-essayist is also convincing, so this book shall be useful not only for Thoreau scholars but for all interested in nature writing.


Anatoly Kudryavitsky