tree waits through winter
loss of leaves, indignity
of snow on its limbs
When I first got seriously into haiku, I learned somewhere not to use the standard literary devices, such as the personification you’ve used here. I think I’ve cheated myself out of a few good haiku that way, and I see no reason to cudgel anyone with any such rule. This haiku puts us into the moment (a season-long moment, but nonetheless) and invites us to consider our relationship to the rest of nature. Goodness knows I’m indignant about snow on my limbs.
Was simile an exception to that ban when you learned it? I think I read somewhere that haiku should make a comparison of some kind. And yet in reviewing the Micheal Dylan Welch article I find we should “seldom use overt metaphor and simile.” So maybe I was dreaming, because I don’t think I’ve read much else on haiku besides you and Welch.
I find I can’t rid myself of personification when I look at natural scenery. I can’t not identify with the tree outside my window as I write this. Its life is in limbo till it gets its leaves back. Meanwhile the snow rests on its bare branches with as little respect for its perch as a cat sleeping on the dinner table. The tree has to stand there in the wind and take it, yet it manages to project (or am I the one projecting?) dignity that makes me see the snow on its branches as unworthy. It’s personification, but it seems like personification is the lens I see the world through.
I guess the trick is to show the world in imagery that allows the reader to make the connection with himself. That’s kind of what Welch was saying.
The anti-literary device rule comes hard and fast from Japan. But I’m going to research this further and do an article about it over at my place next Monday. Every rule was meant to be broken at some point, and your haiku was a good time and place to do so.
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