Saturday, July 26, 2008

Summer haiku

Bagpipes on the beach!
Of all the things! At sunset--
Aye, those pipes did wail!

That's it-- one summer haiku. My haiku-writing period extended from late summer into fall, in a long-ago year. So most of them are autumnal. But I really did see a guy playing bagpipes on the beach.

I always stuck to the five-seven-five syllable rule. Dover Thrift Editions about 20 years ago put out a dollar edition of Japanese haiku. It was a very nice job with good explanatory notes written by I've forgotten who. Multiple translations of the same haiku were often included. Also the Japanese transliteration. I later found out from a co-knowledge-worker, though, that Japanese transliterations do include silent syllables. So, unless you know which are silent, you can't read them to get a sense of the sound.

Another good book is A Net of Fireflies by Harold Stewart. He renders traditional Japanese haiku into rhyming couplets, believing they are a more natural poetic expression for English speakers. Harold Stewart was a very interesting fellow, about whom more later.