one birthday candle
the whole family
© Donna Claire Gallagher (USA) (1941 – 2009)
Various poets from the Haiku Nook wrote about this haiku:
I like it. I have an image of a family gathered around a birthday cake for a child who has just turned one year old, too young to understand the meaning of birthday celebrations and too young to know about blowing out candles at such celebrations. This is a happy, joyful event, a family, more than one generation, gathered and bound together with the glue of love. And Donna Claire said all that with only eight words. Kudos to her.
– Dana Grover (USA)
Yes, when everyone else forsakes you… the comfort of family is your last bastion of hope in this physical world. Their warmth, their assurance, their comfort in the most trying moments of your life.
Of course there would be happy moments shared with the family, specially with a big one, as in this ku, where a child celebrates his first year. I could imagine the fun… the human drama of it all.
– Willie Bongcaron (Philippines)
Could be a trick candle, the last fragment is the key because it’s pretty much open to all types on interpretations where the haiku never ends because of the structure.
– Fractled (USA)
Yes, there’s an element of humor. It could be a trick candle, but there’s also a connotation of warmth and togetherness that conjures the image of a close-knit family, as was said earlier. I don’t approve of calling verses like this “senryu.” The tone is light and humorous, but also very warm and positive. It is firmly in the haiku range of tone and character, and calling a ku this wholesome and lovely a senryu is an insult in my opinion.
– Clayton Beach (USA)
I think this says a lot about how much a family has invested in the next generation, and how the first birthday is an important milestone. Perhaps we can be reminded that in many parts of the world, the infant mortality rate remains very high.
Another point is that this first birthday is a unifying event for the family—as we all know, families are full of tensions and issues, but on this special day, the whole family are united in one simple task.
– Martha Magenta (UK)
One view that was not mentioned by the other commentators was that maybe this senryu is about the death of a baby, and the family is blowing out a birthday candle in honor of the baby.
Also, in terms of sound, the “b” in “blowing” and “birthday” could connect to the sound of blowing out of a candle. Also, making the senryu more musical is the “l” sounds coursing through the lines.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)
What do you think or feel about this senryu? Let us know in the comments.