bells . . .
in the silence of the church
nel silenzio della chiesa
(Italian translation by the author)
© Francesco Palladino (Italy)
The first thing that got me thinking while I read this haiku was how bells were supposedly ringing in the church, and yet somehow the church was silent. Then I understood that ants can’t really hear. They can perceive vibrations created by sound, but not really hear in the sense that humans do.
Anyways, the ant is in the church for some reason. Did the bells call to him, like he was attracted to the vibrations the bells created? Probably not. The ant seems to be just there.
“Silence,” in the context of the haiku, has several implications. It implies that the ant is taking part in reverence or prayer. Also, it could imply that no one is in the church, except the ant. This reminds me of Saint Francis of Assisi, who encouraged animals to attend his services and sermons. Saint Francis even preached the gospel to birds when people would not listen to him. In this sense, the haiku could be reminding us of the universal spirit in all of us, even in an ant.
And maybe there is a connection between the ant and the calling of the bells. The ant, though small and not seen as worthy of being in a church, is showing humans how they should be: worshiping God and being spiritual. Though, of course, the ant is unaware that it is making this impression. In haiku, a common theme is that by things being as they are, the greatest truths are shown.
And finally, maybe the ant is representative of humans. Maybe we’re just ants in the eyes of God—small servants in a huge, divine play.
Now let’s look at the technical side of it. The ellipsis was used, to my knowledge, to show the swing of the bells and the continuation of their sound.
The pacing of the lines is quite interesting. It makes both the first and last line starker than usual by being so short.
In terms of sound, the letter “l” in “bells” and “silence” emphasizes a contrast and adds to the serious mood.
With overtones of religious and spiritual commentary, this haiku presents an observation through engaging pacing, sound, punctuation, and imagery.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky