from the white mosque porch
cry of a swan
© Ken Sawitri (Indonesia)
Chrysanthemum 19, April 15th, 2016
Friday mornings are usually cheerful with the prospect of the oncoming weekend. We can also take into account that the poet might have been at the mosque for the dawn prayer time, or Fajr. In Islam, it is seen as God’s most favored prayer since others are asleep. Also, the call to Fajr marks the beginning of the obligatory daily fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
The cry of the swan creates a contrast between the jovial mood of Friday mornings and the peacefulness of prayer time in the mosque. Why is the swan crying? It is inexplicable, as it conveys a different emotion for each person that hears it. One person might see the swan crying and think, “Yes, Islam is going through a troubled time currently,” but another person might think, “Look, even a swan calls us to the mosque to pray, just as the muezzin (the man who calls Muslims to the mosque) does,” while yet another person might think, “The swan is sad it cannot enter the mosque to pray.” There are a myriad interpretations one can get from the cry of the swan, and that is what makes this haiku engaging and versatile.
This scene reminds me of the term aware, which is a Japanese word that means the ability of an object, event, or scene to stimulate emotion, particularly of sadness or regret. The cry of the swan in the context of the scene brings about emotions, though we are not quite sure which ones exactly. But emotions that cannot be accurately defined are commonly the most powerful.
Another thing to consider is “white” being used directly and being implied in the haiku. The swan, in a sense, blends in with the mosque, and could be acting as its mouthpiece. Or, we could think of the mosque blending in with the swan, suggesting religion returning to simpler times. White is often a symbol of clarity, and maybe the haiku is suggesting the swan and mosque are not so distant from each other.
Sonically, the sounds of “f” in “friday” and “from,” and the “m” sounds in “morning” and “mosque” brings out the intensity of the swan’s cry. In terms of punctuation, I believe the author was correct in not using it in the first line, as it will make “friday morning” too heavy, when it is something light.
A haiku that lends itself to be commentary on religion and its connection with the natural world, it also showcases an excellent sense of sound, color, and scenery.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky