haiku #3

harrier hawk gorges
on a dove carcass
amid the lilacs


About Greg Bryant

I teach writing and literature at Highland Community College in northeast Kansas.
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7 Responses to haiku #3

  1. Greg Bryant says:

    Inspired by urbaneyes’ haiku #3 and by catsignal’s haiku #108.

  2. bryon says:

    Note: The following remark was based on this version of the poem and led to the conversation below and the revision above. –gb

    a harrier hawk
    gorges on a dove carcass
    amidst the lilacs

    That’s a sharply drawn image; very political in its way, and yet not, being the way of nature.

    Just some thoughts on your haiku in general; ignore them at your pleasure.

    It may be that you enjoy the challenge of the 5-7-5 syllable haiku. A lot of English-language haiku poets do. I’ve given up on it (as you can read) and this is why (blatant self-referential link to own blog). This is both easier and harder, depending on the haiku, but I find the Japanese sentiments I linked to are valuable.

    On this haiku, I might have left out the definite article “a” in the first two lines. I might not have, too, depending on my mood. I try to eschew definite articles, as English-language haiku does, but sometimes that reads too much like a telegram and I put them in.

  3. Greg Bryant says:

    That’s excellent advice, Bryon. In fact I’m not too enamored of the 5-7-5 syllabic scheme. In my mind it implies a certain scantion:

    / v / v /

    / v / v / v /

    / v / v /

    …and that’s pretty dull. Others don’t seem tied to that meter, but I find it distracting.

    I’ve experimented with both methods, and I’ve been studying your haikus. Yours are remarkably compact. I’ve read that nice little essay on haiku and the Matsuyama Declaration before and enjoyed reading it again (I see you got the link thing to work). You made your point well there. If anything your haikus benefit from the extreme economy. Your original example is a good demonstration of that.

    Interestingly, or not, I added the indefinite artice just to make the syllable count complete. Pretty weak reason!

    In fact one other article might be eliminated too, and the line breaks improved. How do you like this?

    harrier hawk gorges

    on a dove carcass

    amidst lilacs

    Personally I like it better. One “a” isn’t too much. Thanks for the suggestions.

  4. Greg Bryant says:

    Or how about “amid” instead of “amidst”?

  5. bryon says:

    I do think it’s stronger without the “a” in the first line. The “the” in the third line would be optional for me, were I the poet in charge here. Some days I would use it, other days I wouldn’t, and no wrong answer.

    I would use “amid” mostly because editing books to someone else’s preference has broken me of “amidst.” Kind of the “don’t call me Shirley” thing. “In the lilacs” would work too, and it doesn’t add syllables.

    Many top English-language poets use a 2-3-2 pattern. I’m not that masochistic.

  6. Greg Bryant says:

    amid the lilacs

    in the lilacs

    For me, “amid” has a more fastidious connotation that matches the lilacs and contrasts with gorging on a carcass.

    I’m putting the “the” back in.

  7. Chris Bartak says:

    I think the revisions are good ones. I have to admit that I’m one of those who compulsively uses the 5-7-5 haiku form, though it’s never held any importance for me other than as an added little puzzle for my own amusement. I like acrostics and mesostics for the same reason, I suppose.

    I’d guess that most of my favorite haiku, however, are free form haiku. This revision is a good example of how the rigid 5-7-5 structure can sometimes act against the nature of haiku. The revised version is more natural and minimalistic.

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