Posted by: John Looker | 6 July, 2012

MIDWAY

MIDWAY


(revised)

brief Midsummer Night;
he lies awake making lists
he won’t now achieve 

I’ve tried to benefit from comments made in the discussion below, particularly drawing on those from Tom D’Evelyn and Jim at ExtraSimile – I have really welcomed the discussion.

I think it’s better, although I don’t really know. Anyway, that’s it!

The earlier draft, for the record as it were, had read as follows:

Midsummer day’s night.
Lying awake making lists
we’ll never achieve.

© John Stevens 2012

I was prompted to try a haiku again by reading the richly imaginative examples over at ExtraSimile, plus commentary by Tom D’Evelyn there on the rules and spirit of the haiku form – see :

http://extrasimile.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/5-7-5-2/#comments 

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Haiku! The essential cut is there!
    Now, if I may. This would be improved if you replaced the conventional language of the cap with an image: name some stars, whatever. Make it “real.” Midsummer plus a star name?
    Then, just say “I” in the two-line narrative section. The representativeness of the speaker is taken for granted. In fact, the second line could be “never to be consulted” or “never to be achieved” or . . . . completely impersonalizing the semantic gist of the base, so that we see that list, as by starlight.
    Strictly speaking, this is a humorous haiku, edged with satire of mankind, and that gets a separate category among haiku called senryu. No big distinction, just an interesting and telling one.
    Jim’s prerevolutionary haiku, the way I read it, is not a senryu.

    Like

    • Very interesting, Tom, thanks. I’ll do some thinking.

      Like

  2. Hi John
    lovely lazy lists we make in Summer to forget… 🙂 I love it!

    Like

  3. John this is a nice experience. I have often performed the intent of the haiku while staring at the ceiling. I discovered that unless noted on paper making memory lists in the dark really does not promote achievement.

    Like

  4. When I confront haiku, I feel lost. I have been reading Tom D’Evelyn’s commentary at ExtraSimile with great interest, but have not ready to attack such a demanding form. As usual, John, you can tackle any form and make it work. Perhaps someday…
    I like the contrast in the first line between the idea of day juxtaposed with the idea of night. This gives me, at least, the idea of the duality of life upon the earth when a day can have a night. This is a subtle idea that occurred to me after the third reading of this.
    Then the endless making of lists in our heads at night, filling up the darkness between stars in our minds, echoing through our lives in our day’s night.

    Like

  5. There’s something subtle going on in the first line, an ambiguity that may help the modern poetry reader get into the experience, hard day’s night? Is night different from days night? Try substituting Dog Star and something goes out of the poem. The rhythm is so pleasing in itself.
    The Japanese way would be dryer, harder, less ambiguous, and hence less poetic to our ear.

    Like

    • I’ve had a go at developing this, Tom. It’s been quite a challenge and that’ll have to do. Thanks a lot for your ideas and advice though.

      Like

  6. Haiku welcomes you
    back to its poetics John
    may you stay a while

    Like

  7. Yes, ‘A midsummer’s day’s night’ echoes Shakespeare and the Beatles—and that ain’t bad. It nails the seasonal reference. It pleases and stretches the tongue…but maybe it’s too abstract. What do you picture here, what to you smell? My instincts say a haiku is about squeezing the real so hard that it must bleed to breathe.
    Lying awake making lists
    we’ll never achieve.
    Making lists? What is this, the Ultimate Bureaucrat? We should perhaps be taken back to pre-air conditioning days. Too hot to sleep. The neighbors are still up, sitting on the porch. The telephone rings…
    And yet—
    I have learned to go carefully with a John Stevens poem. The two parts of this poem are (1) a hot summer’s night and (2) those lists. What are these lists about? It’s not a shopping list, not a ‘to-do’ list. It sounds more like a list of first and last things, a bucket list, a list of what make life worth living. The picture clears: we’re thinking about, truly, about those first and last things. And as we toss and turn, too hot to sleep, we know full well that we will not ‘achieve’ (so Boy Scout, isn’t it, ‘achieve’?) pretty much anything on the list. A list of our despair.
    Take this one step further: if Tom D’Evelyn is right, and I think he is, this poem of despair is a senryu, a humorous poem. ‘Senryu’ is a new word to me, but the concept is not. It’s hard to laugh when you’re alone. Misery loves company, and so does humor…
    After you read this poem, go read Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘One Art’. And then almost anything by Philip Larkin. John, this may not be the greatest haiku in the world, but you do qualify for a Merit Badge. I’ve got you right up at the top of my list.

    Like

    • Thanks Jim – you’ll see that I’ve had a shot at improving this – let’s hope that Boy Scout badge is still valid! You certainly knew what I was trying to do in this one. But your own haiku, or 5-7-4 poems, were much richer in imagination.

      Like

  8. John: I came across this from Basho this morning (in Robert Haas’ The Essential Haiku):
    The secret of poetry lies in treading the middle path between the reality and the vacuity of the world
    That’s what I was trying to say last night.
    (Yes, it’s better. Last line: ‘he will never read.’)

    Like

  9. John, I just wanted to commend you for writing and then rewriting your haiku in response to others’ comments and suggestions. I could probably write and rewrite my poems to death until I am caught in a space where I no longer even know or feel the sense of the poem anymore, and that’s when I just leave it alone for a while. I really enjoy seeing your work in process here. Also, I can relate to your words personally as I have made many such “empty” lists.

    Like

    • Thanks Anna. I do find people’s comments are valuable feedback.

      Like

  10. Can’t tell you how much I prefer your original inspiration….it has your voice in it. The later version has an eviscerated quality…..some commentators take all the poetry out of a poem….

    Like

    • Thank you for saying that Cynthia. Looking back I too prefer the original. Perhaps it doesn’t satisfy the spirit and letter of haiku so well but it was truer to the thoughts flapping about in my head.

      Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: