Posted in Haiku

Maria Laura Valente’s Mantra

summer wind –
in the sound of waves
an endless mantra

©  Maria Laura Valente (Italy)
The Mainichi, October 18th, 2016

We start with “summer wind,” which is soothing in enduring heat. The poet also makes a note of the season, and allows readers to unload all their notions of summer into their reading of the haiku. Seasonal references in haiku act this way: they allow our personal histories with a certain period of time and ideas of culture associated with it to pour out. That is one of the reasons haiku can be so small: the amount of associations poets can infer through seasonal references and selective words can produce much more than what is written.

The poet then uses a dash, which is a good choice in order to not bleed the first line into the second one. In addition, it allows the reader to pause, and imagine summer wind and maybe remember his or her memories of it. Some haiku benefit from lines bleeding into each other, while others do not. And it is often up to the poet whether they want more of an open interpretation or a more closed one through punctuation.

In the next two lines, the poet focuses on the sound of the waves and compares them to a mantra. In haiku, we usually use our sense perceptions to not only portray the moment, but to show meaning and feeling. In this haiku, sound is the chosen sense perception.

I think a mantra is an appropriate description of the sound of waves, as usually mantras don’t have so much inherit meaning, but its meditative sound is of more importance. We don’t usually interpret what waves are saying with their sound, but we just listen to them, and the sound soothes us.

Since there is a juxtaposition in this haiku (and in most haiku) it is good to think about how the two parts interact. Summer wind and the sound of waves both are calming, and both might sing a high-pitched song. Also, summer is a time we wish we could go on forever, and this sentiment is reflected in the endless mantra of the waves. The poet could also be saying that summer wind is going through the waves and making a sound, and causing it to sound like a mantra. It is an interesting contrast of having a carefree time like summer being situated alongside a mantra, which is of a more serious nature. It is kind of a yin and yang of the mundane joy of life and the peace of the inner self.

The “s” letter features strongly, and seems to make the sound of wind. Also, the letter “w” is prominent and gives a wispy sound to the haiku. The lines are paced naturally and pleasantly, in the common short line, long line, short line format. The way the second line is set, it allows readers to have suspense for the third line.

Overall, this haiku is soothing like an endless mantra. It makes one feel calm and have a mystical sense for nature.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)






Meditator, writer, editor, musician.

2 thoughts on “Maria Laura Valente’s Mantra

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