una luna è una luna
moon’s a moon
© Angiola Inglese (Italy)
Persimmons are the favorite fruit of many people (including my wife) for their sweetness and honey flavor. They are also quite bulbous and charming to look it.
To compare a persimmon to the moon is apt. Not only are they both round, they both are well admired. Persimmons are often referred to as “the fruit of the gods” and their trees can reach up to 70 feet. The moon is also epic in its nature: a variety of cultures have moon-viewing traditions to glimpse at its beauty, but it is also associated with many spiritual and even religious traditions.
But to get to the essence of this haiku, I believe the author is saying, “Yes, the ripe persimmon is grand, but don’t forget about the moon, which is quite similar to this persimmon.”
We can look at this essence at different angles. One could be that we should not get lost in the mundane, and keep our attention rather on the spiritual. Another interpretation could be: don’t give heed to what is ephemeral, but rather to what is eternal. Yet another way to interpret it is that while we enjoy one thing, don’t forget about everything else that exists—have care and compassion for all life at all times. It is a sense of balance in a world of allure—kind of like the idea of the “floating world” in historical Japanese literature.
And with the reference to the ripe permission, we can probably guess the moon in the haiku is a full moon. Also, we can take a gander at the season: persimmons are in season from October through February. So much is said in this haiku through so few words. This is one sign that a haiku has done its job.
Looking at the sound, at least in the English translation, the most distinct sounds are in the letters “i” and “o.” In my opinion, the “i” sound adds to the mood of observation of the moon and persimmon, and the “o” sound gives a hypnotic feel to the haiku, allowing to feel the union of the moon and persimmon a bit more.
With many interpretations available through its simplicity, this haiku is a fine example of how to say a lot with just a few words.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky