a lone seagull dipping into the clouds
© Gabriel Bates (USA)
This is a monoku, or a one-line haiku. Though traditionally haiku are written as one vertical line in Japanese, in the English language we usually use a three-line format to show the different parts and to have a western pacing. However, sometimes haiku in English are written into one line for various reasons:
1) The lines don’t look good as three or two lines.
2) There only a few words and it would feel and look better as one line.
3) Having a haiku in one line can make phrases bleed more together and thus create more layers and meaning.
4) And some personal reasons of the poet….
The three-line version might look like this:
into the clouds
a lone seagull
… with the syntax switched to create two clear parts. But it is my belief that the writer wanted to create more of an effect with the word “lone” and to make readers read each word with a stronger emphasis.
In monoku, punctuation is not usually used. But we see that the writer has left a space after “lone” to create a more poignant effect of the feeling of “lone.” In a sense, it is a type of punctuation, but just more creative.
Reflections in haiku are common, but this reflection gets an added boost with color. The seagull is white (commonly) and clouds are white (usually). The act of the seagull dipping into the reflection of the cloud, in a sea or ocean, creates an effect of something philosophical.
It could be a sign of losing one’s identity, or becoming one with something greater (the “heavens”). Making an emphasis on “lone” could be signifying that an individual has to eventually go alone in his or her journey to become one with a higher power or to lose one’s identity. A seagull is sometimes referred to as an autumn kigo, or seasonal reference. Shedding one’s ego correlates well with autumn.
Also of note is the continuity of the word “dipping.” I think the writer chose this instead of “dips” to show a continuous happening, and to make the haiku more meditative.
I enjoy the use of singularity and plurality, e.g. the lone seagull and the many clouds. Using the plural “clouds” creates an image of something massive and epic… kind of like a part becoming the whole. Many haiku operate on contrasting different elements: time, size, age, and so on.
In terms of sound, the “o” and “l” sounds run strongly through it. To me, the “o” sound adds to the awe of the imagery, and the “l” sound adds to the elegance of the happening.
Though this monoku seems simple on the first reading, it is creative in its format, has spiritual symbolism, and brings us into the starkness of the moment described.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky