a beggar steals
© Antonietta Losito (Italy)
Otata’s bookshelf, November, 2016
The Trevi Fountain is a fountain in the Trevi district in Rome, Italy, designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci. Standing 26.3 meters (86 ft) high and 49.15 meters (161.3 ft) wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. An estimated 3,000 Euros are thrown into the fountain each day. The money has been used to subsidize a supermarket for Rome’s needy; however, there are regular attempts to steal coins from the fountain, although it is illegal to do so.
With this context in mind, we can see this senryu as commentary on those in need and the power of wishes. With the surprising last line, we can get a mix of emotions: a witty laugh, a reflection on the weight of our wishes, and maybe an introspection on how we treat our homeless members of society.
We can get a witty laugh because of the wordplay, but many times senryu use puns and witticisms to reach for a deeper meaning. It could be that the poet wanted us to think about how much wishes mean. Most people have many wishes, but rarely act upon them. The beggar taking the wishing coins could be a demonstration of the frivolousness of our wishes if they are not put into action.
We can also ponder if the supposed power we put into these coins with our wishes will be transferred to the beggar. Maybe he is not only begging for money, but begging for being able to wish. Many of the homeless have no way to get out their circumstances, and cannot even afford to wish.
The money thrown into the fountain for charity may in fact be collected and put in the pockets of the wealthy. The beggar might have the right to distrust the city and its politicians, and collect the money for himself, making the charity transparent. He is in fact committing a righteous act by accepting the charity money directly.
As one can see, what might start as a witticism can turn into a deep introspection on human nature.
In a technical sense, the most prominent sound is the letter “s,” giving the impression of the sound of a fountain. With just 7 words and 12 syllables, Losito has packed a lot of meaning and emotions in a small space—which is a mark of a fine senryu poet.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky