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Bukusai Ashagawa’s Candle

by candle light
through a bedroom window
a pear blossoms

© Bukusai Ashagawa, published in “JIKU” & “Up the Mtn #173.”

I enjoy how each step of the poem, each line being a step, reaffirms itself. The color, warmth, and comfort is unified through the eventual zooming in on the pear blossoms.

The reader is first taken to candle light, which is white and warm. Then we move onto the bedroom window, which is clear and could be said to be pure. Bedrooms are also said to be warm places in actuality and in the heart. Finally, we come to the pear blossoms, which are white and have a charming center color of light red or green. They also mark the spring season. But since it is most likely night, the blossoms are probably closed, which could either bring about the sense of melancholy or the realization of its beauty, even when closed.

So the wonder of this moment is that the poet had an insight that his reality was one in beauty and warmth. Through mundane objects, the poet has conveyed a sense of joy and comfort–a kind of bliss.

The “l” sound running through the poem gives it an eloquent tone. The “b” sound gives off a sense of comfort and maybe a sense of maternal warmth

The contrast of night and the whiteness and warmth of the objects makes the poem stark. I also think that the candle light and us transferring to the blossoms is in a sense showing the journey to enlightenment.

It is a classic haiku technique to zoom in on something from a distance. I think the poet did this wonderfully.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky

Additional Commentary by the Poet:

Although your interpretation of what I intended to be the primary meaning of “a pear blossoming” was really my secondary, my intentionally parallel and contradictory, meaning behind what I perceived as “a pear blossoming.” We spoke about this but I think this is how miscommunication can occur when we just text, email, or message one another in today’s society.

I primarily perceived “a pear blossoming” as an off handed yet hopefully subtle play on words. For me, the primary but not the exclusive meaning behind “a pear blossoms” signified a women’s pear shaped naked silhouetted figure, silhouetted behind a translucent curtain, which was illuminated by the soft warm light of a candle. This is why I preferred the “a” before the rest of “pear blossoms” instead of “pears blossom,” otherwise I would have done it the way you suggested. It was an actual memory from my childhood that I’d struggled for decades to speak of in a respectful yet sensual manner. There of course was no way you could have known all this without speaking with me or interviewing me.

Writing of her figure as “a pear blossoming” was for me a play on words. One which allowed me to give the poem a more respectable-acceptable tone, yet still broach an undeniably sexualized memory from my youth. So your interpretation was again spot on, but missing that personalized insight. I think we all interpret haiku idioms in such a way. Sometimes we interpret one version of what the author intended and at other times the other, or both. This is part of what defines the how and why of the art forms I refer to as English Haiku Idioms (EHI), like haiku, senryu, and tanka. Others have believed that this poem was only about a figurative woman, yet missed the literal, the actual pear.

I believe this divergence, this difference in how an author and then the reader, or literary critic defines and or interprets the multiplicity of meanings in the words of some haiku poetry is what has defined and characterized Japanese poetry forms like choka, waka, renga, hokku, senryu, tanka, and haiku for over a thousand years; going all the way back to the essential and cannonical works, the choka/waka of the Man’yoshu, Kokinshu, and those other earlier Imperial Anthologies and works of poets during the Heian,Edo, & Meji Periods. The EHI as I refer to them that are derived from them act as catalysts with which the reader can then take the literary baton if you will, from the writer. In EHI there is I believe no arbitrary right or wrong way of interpreting the haiku writer’s words. For in haiku and most of it’s other EHI forms, the reader is meant to act as a co-creator in the poets writing endeavor. As a/the co-creator of the poem, the reader continues to create, to create in their minds eye from where the writer left off. Thus the reader is prompted by the writers words, their last line to continue on in their minds eye where the writer left off–as if in a virtual renga writing party. It’s as if the writer creates the first three hokku/haiku lines, while the reader picks up the writers baton and writes the last two lines in their minds eye. This means the reader must come up with their own interpretation of the meaning that the writers first three lines held for them. Some haiku or hokku are very explicit while others are open ended or have ambiguous or multiple meanings. This employing of multiple meaning is what many writers of forms like waka/renga, hokku/haiku, & tanka writers have done since the arts inception. Sometimes a haiku’s meaning is crystal clear–specific–sometimes it is vague or ambiguous.

– Bukusai Ashagawa

 

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Author:

Meditator, writer, editor, musician.

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