I’m the pomegranate
I’m its branch
© Lucia Fontana
The Mainichi, November 3, 2016
In the first line, we get a direct kigo, or seasonal reference for autumn. Also, the pomegranate is a typical kigo for mid-autumn. Autumn is a month that is often serious and introspective, though it showcases beautiful colors. It is when things are dying all around—leaves, blossoms, fruits, and more—but yet they pass away in such riveting displays that sometimes it almost seems nature is trying to open our hearts to it.
An autumn wind can make the process of life crumbling come faster, and can push the already frail down. In its chilling sound, a melancholy arises that is hard to depict.
However, the world still has compassion. One of the prime things Japanese poetry tries to show is the human heart, especially in relation to nature. In the last two lines of the haiku, the poet expresses, in my opinion, compassion and a connection to the pomegranate tree.
Either metaphorically or scientifically, the poet is expressing her direct connection with nature. Maybe she sees something in the pomegranate tree that is like her, or maybe she is expressing that in reality, there is no separation between things—the space between entities is filled with vibrating atoms and on an atomic level, it is difficult to discern any real separation. In fact, there can physically be no space that contains nothing. In this way, we are connected by an infinite spread of life, all with no space between us.
In this expression of connection, the poet is calling out to the pomegranate tree and says: “You are not alone. In fact, I am actually you, and feel your suffering.” It is a consolation.
Coming down from these philosophical thoughts, we can look at the haiku technically. The lines are paced naturally, with a short first line, a longer second line, and short third line (which is the most common way to pace lines for haiku in English). In regard to sound, the letter “i” features strongly, and I believe it makes the consolation more convincing. The letter “m” on the other hand, supplies a soothing feeling.
Overall, the haiku gives off an atmosphere of both distress and tranquility. This mix of feelings is crucial for haiku to stand the test of time. If a haiku is one-sided, there is less one can get from it. The best haiku have layers of meaning and ultimately, feeling.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky