bells of Kōfuku-ji
rippling the pond
© Mark Meyer
This haiku definitely has a classical feel to it: temple bells, a pond, and stillness. Yet, Meyer made something new with classical elements in mind.
Knowing what “Kofuku-ji” is intrinsic to feeling what the haiku is about. Kofuku-ji used to be the family temple of the Fujiwara, the most powerful family clan during much of the Nara and Heian periods. The temple was established in Nara at the same time as the capital in 710. At the height of Fujiwara power, the temple consisted of over 150 buildings.
In addition, Meyer noted that the complex has a lot of legends associated with it. This information gives us a sense that there might be something mystical in the haiku. How nature and human culture interact is often remarkable, and I believe this haiku is showing us a window into this phenomenon.
The pond is still. The bell rings from the ancient temple and the vibrations from its sound reverberates on the water, creating ripples. The ancient temple may not be as it used to be, but it is still creating the same effect on the waters around it. This brings about the haiku aesthetic of continuance despite a death, or against all odds.
Also, there is something supernatural in nature itself that allows us to draw inspiration from it. By noticing the ripples on the pond from the bells, I get a sense of the supernatural, especially with the temple being associated with many legends.
I like how the dash is used to illustrate just how silent the moment was. I also enjoy the “l” sound with “stillness,” “bells,” and “rippling.” The circular sound of “l” brings the ripples to mind.
An elegant haiku that brings a sense of peace and remembrance.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky