the urge to walk these stars
as stepping stones
WHR Jan 2017, Shintai Haiku, 7 Honorable Mention
© Adjei Agyei-Baah (Ghana)
The first thing I noticed was the contrast between “calm” and “urge.” In the context of this haiku, I believe “calm” relates to a clarity of vision.
People sometimes have abstract desires to do something. In regard to this haiku, this abstract idea is celestial and engages the reader’s imagination greatly. To me, stars being thought of as stepping stones can mean multiple things: 1) that we should use outer space as a vehicle to further the human race 2) the poet is disillusioned with mundane life and wants to be guided to a more heavenly/divine/transcendent place 3) that since the stars are being reflected in the calm water (an assumption of mine), it shows that stepping stones can seem grand through one’s perspective, even if they are simply a tool to reach the other side. I am sure readers can find more interpretations as well.
The calmness of the water, in my mind, gives rise to the poet’s imagination. In the stillness of the moment, the poet sees the stars reflected in the water, and is in tune with his desires. In the clarity of mental stillness, the world opens up with new possibilities. Thoughts usually hold us back from imagining and feeling the moment. The border between what is programmed into our minds and what is spontaneous is broken if we attain mental stillness. Like a Zen state, the stars could have easily been stepping stones, and anything else reflected in the water. The beginner’s mind brings life back to a sense of wonder, and I believe that is one facet of this haiku’s message.
In terms of sound, this is a musical haiku. Not only is there an alliteration of “s” sounds—which could be equated to the chime of water—but also there is “a” sounds in “calm,” “water,” “walk,” and “stars.” The “a” sound makes the words seem longer, and gives the effect of something being pulled, like an urge, as is stated in the haiku. In addition, the pacing of the lines works phenomenally in conveying the haiku’s somber yet energetic mood.
Imaginative and evocative, this haiku engages readers and allows them to derive many ideas and feelings from its imagery. A highly enjoyable haiku.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky
Some more commentary was written from the Haiku Nook, a haiku community online:
I’m satisfied with the first two lines alone, leaving out the simile and creating a 2-line haiku.
the urge to walk these stars
– Edwin Lomere
Totally agree with you here Ed. That’s an excellent edit. I would probably go one step further and split the second line in two with “these stars” as the third line. However, I may be splitting hairs. Great stuff. 🙂
– Dave Read
I don’t disagree with Edwin, except to say that the way Adjei has used “as stepping stones” this is not a simile. Here “as” is used in the same way as “as if” which is more of a conjunction than a simile. (The urge to walk these stars as if they were stepping stones) and this changes the intended sense, I would imagine.
– Martha Magenta
What do you think or feel about this haiku? Let us know in the comments.