Monthly Archives: May 2012

Haiku Manifesto

Haiku are short poems

Haiku are like water, cleansing

Haiku purify the soul

Haiku are concrete

Haiku evoke nature

Haiku evoke love

Haiku evoke all sorts of things

Haiku can be impressionistic

Haiku are realistic

Haiku are like pearls

Haiku are evanescent

Haiku are timeless

Haiku can be written on the back of receipts  

Haiku are not receipts

Haiku enchant

Haiku suggest less is more

Haiku leave you wanting more

Haiku are snapshots of the mind attempting to make sense of the infinite

Haiku are faithful

Haiku are like beacons, shining a light on the dark matter of life

Haiku are vital

Haiku like you

Haiku embody life

Haiku love ideals

Haiku embrace the everyday

Haiku go well with tea

Haiku go well with wine

Haiku go well with the moon

Haiku illuminate

Haiku allow you to ruminate

Haiku console

Haiku capture exquisite moments

Haiku uplift

Haiku go with the flow

Haiku capture beauty

Haiku capture sorrow

Haiku elicit joy

Haiku distil life

I have put together a collection of haiku called Haiku on Love. I hope to publish a couple more collections in the future, on Nature and Life. Writing haiku is incredibly liberating and, like living, I guess it is as much about the process as the end result. Haiku are mental snapshots and the beauty of the form is that one never stops learning – from practitioners such as Matsuo Basho, Kobayashi Issa and  Masaoka Shiki –  and marvelling at the incredible mysteries of existence.

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The magic of Edward Lear

The 12th of May is the bicentenary of the eccentric genius, Edward Lear, who described himself as the laureate of nonsense. Appropriately, it has been designated as “International Owl and Pussycat Day”. Why the fuss? Well, it isn’t just because The Owl and The Pussycat happens to be one of the greatest poems in the English language. It is something more. Lear’s oeuvre is steeped in a childlike wonder of the universe; his humour is such that in order to appreciate and marvel at the fullness of life, we need, sometimes, to stand back and chortle at life’s absurdities. Perhaps we need this more than ever. As that other great purveyor of humour, Dr Seuss, once said:

 

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient

in living. It’s a way at looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope…that

enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”

 

Lear’s nonsense verse fulfils this; an intrepid voyager he takes us to new worlds, where imagination is boundless. What I think is most eminent about his writing is that it is written with verve, a keen painterly eye and, above all, is permeated with kindness, which shines bright. The Owl and the Pussycat going to sea might appear perfectly illogical but surely it is the most romantic of love poems and one can see why it is firmly ensconced as popular request at weddings etc. The conclusion of the poem never fails to bring a smile to my face as I imagine the incredible dance moves the protagonists execute “on the edge of the sand”.  And this surely is why Lear endures; his way with words always leaves the reader with a smile etched on their face. This isn’t to forget his sketches and paintings either, for he was an equally brilliant artist.

To mark Edward Lear’s 200th birthday, I will dive into his complete Nonsense and become reacquainted with old friends like The Pobble Who Has No Toes, The Quangle Wangle and The Dong with a Luminous Nose. It always feel like a veritable feast.  For your delectation, here’s my take on The Owl and the Pussycat; and, if you can tolerate, here are a few limericks about someone I know, fairly well:

 

There was a mad chap from Wales

who quite often tipped the scales

by donning his hats

trilbies and flat caps

a ridiculous sight in tails

 

There was a mad chap from Wales

who loved to walk out in gales

clad in a poncho

bearing a portmanteau

that peculiar chap from Wales

 

There was a mad chap from Wales

who laughed at minor details

the trifles of life

leavened with spice

means brio always prevails

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Spring Cure

When the mind is assailed by dark despair,

let nature’s beauty cleanse with wholesome air

and pour into the soul thoughts bright and true,

this love that burns bright like the dazzling blue.

 

Ravens circle with the joy of today,

past is past, wheel and dance in merry May,

for who can say what tomorrow may bring?

The gift of life is to embrace fair spring.

 

And when cobwebs spread like a crafty fox,

a walk in the hills will cast the brute off;

Sweet season of green explodes with rebirth

lighting up life, a blossom of fresh mirth.

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These Words

I text you these words

hopeful like the birds,

finding a new world

tenderly unfurled.

 

Whether they hit home,

the weight of a stone,

or dance in the air

timeless with no pair.

 

The puzzle is such

truth is beyond touch;

kisses carry strength,

soothing pains that wrench.

 

To be a chancer

when there’s an answer,

in the spring of life

scything down wild strife.

 

A dear thing is hope

on life’s tricky slope,

that across wide skies

love leaps as it flies.

 

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