the fūrin tinkles
in September wind—
there’s still time
© Elisa Allo (Italy)
(published previously on tanzaku.wordpress.com )
Let’s first understand what a fūrin is: a Japanese wind chime. The fūrin has a bowl-shaped exterior, the zetsu (the clapper) on the inside that makes the sound, and a strip of paper that is hung from the zetsu. With these three parts, the fūrin is able to create wondrous sounds that remind people of summer.
From ancient times in Japan, it was believed that when a strong wind blows, an epidemic will spread. So, the tradition developed that, in order to avoid epidemics and to ward away evil, a bronze wind chime in the shape of a bell called the fūtaku should be hung near the house. They were also hung in temples to create a peaceful atmosphere.
But the epidemic in this haiku is probably referring to the season itself. The end of autumn is at hand and winter is around the corner. The trees are becoming bare and signs of vegetation dying are all around.
The last line is open-ended. Its ambiguity lends us multiple interpretations. Time for what exactly? It is not said, but the reader can fill in his or her own ideas. Maybe the haiku points to appreciating what is at hand, admiring the precipice of autumn in all its colors, revering what is dying. There is still time to enjoy nature’s beauty before the bareness of winter comes.
Another interpretation could be of a spiritual nature. Despite our wrongdoings and our life events, there is still time to become saintly.
Yet another interpretation could be that the haiku is stating that time is still present, whereas in winter, time seems to stand still in the covering of snow and the bitterness of the cold. Also, the tinkles of the fūrin could wake the sense of the poet to the moment, each tinkle a new moment.
I am sure you as readers can come up with many other interpretations. However, it is important to consider the mood of the haiku. Not only is the last line optimistic, but also the word “tinkles” gives off a positivity.
The letters “s” and “t” feature strongly. The “s” sound creates the effect of trees whistling in wind, and the “t” sound produces the effect of tinkling.
I believe this haiku is calling us to see the light in the dark, and to be appreciative of what is around us by being in the present moment.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky