his everlasting love’s cold marble Taj Mahal
© Garry Eaton
Specifics in haiku are quite important, as they can add nuance and layers. As the poet mentions “cold marble” and “Taj Mahal” we get definite specifics about the location and substance of the haiku. Taj Mahal is a famous mausoleum at Agra, India, constructed by the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan in honor of his favorite wife. It was built with white marble, which reflects in a pool flanked by cypresses.
The Taj Mahal is a monument of love and dedication, and a wonder of the world. But the poet brings out a direct truth about it: the coolness of the marble itself. Coolness can have many meanings. One meaning is despite that the emperor believed his love would carry through the Taj, now the only thing that lingers is the coolness of the marble. Another interpretation of coolness can be that his love for his wife is still felt through the cooling sensation of the marble on bare feet, and in the atmosphere.
Another entirely different reading of this is “his everlasting love’s cold/marble Taj Mahal” which highlights the possible sickness emperor’s wife died from, and being contrasted with the coolness of the marble.
In one line haiku, as in this one, there are so many readings available that one might get confused. But this confusion, I believe, is part of the philosophy of haiku–that truth can be approached at many angles and that the connection between things can seem endless.
Look at the sound of the haiku, as well. The “o” sound in “love’s cold” makes it that much cooler in effect. The “a” sound which runs through the haiku makes it heavier, which is appropriate for the subject.
This is a haiku that is at once charming and melancholic. This mixture makes it all the more intriguing.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky