where words fail pines along the cliff’s edge
© Elliot Nicely (USA)
If I were writing, I’d say “pine” instead of ‘pines’ and ‘fall’ instead of “fail.”
– Edwin Lomere (USA)
Wow! that’s the first word come to mind when reading this. “Fail” and “pines” work fine to me.
I don’t know if it’s meant to have metaphorical meaning, but I just love how it brings me straight to the scene. I would be speechless too if I experienced it myself.
Love the smooth flow between the two parts too.
– Lucky Triana (Indonesia)
The pines along the cliff edge seem to be marking a boundary against falling over, and each pine, in my mind, marks each of the one-syllable words in this monoku. Pines are pointed, so each one is perhaps making a point?
– Martha Magenta (UK)
For me, this monoku is talking about a picture that leaves the author speechless. He isn’t able—although he does in a manner—to find words to describe the feelings of the given scenery. “pines along the cliff’s edge” evokes a common experience in him shown by an explicit example. And so, he simply writes “where words fail.”
– Hannes Froehlich (Germany)
This is a beautiful monoku with multiple interpretations. With the first read, “the cliff’s edge” could be the edge of the ‘mind’.
From a physical standpoint, we are all on the edge, between life and death, whether we like to believe it or not. But the real meaning of the death of words seems to be the death of the ego—”where words fail”—and this would inherently include the “I” thought or the “me” thought that we seem to cling to out of habit, and is constantly reinforced through language through many years of mental conditioning.
But if the mind is conditioned, it seems it can also be deconditioned. If we can add layers to the mind, it seems we can also discover those layers, and maybe, even for a moment, experience the great joy of losing ALL thoughts as they evaporate into the transiency of their origins.
How do we break through the mold of the mind? Why do we identify with the mind in the first place? Indeed, the mind can be a useful tool, and it has its place, but those moments when ALL words fail seems to brings us back to something much deeper, to something that is not personal at all, but rather universal, just beyond the edge of the mind.
And yet, it seems even after this experience, the sense of being a person continues, out of compassion, to better serve life and its various forms.
Maybe this is one reason why haiku has this mysterious ability to bring people together? It seems haiku poets are all on the edge of the mind, and we have this inherent ability to tap into something just beyond it.
Despite our seemingly endless use of words, it seems many of us (secretly or not) yearn for what is wordless and, lucky for us, the beauty of haiku contains both words and what is wordless. So, it seems haiku serves as a very grounding activity to appreciate the ordinary and perhaps see things in a new light, yet simultaneously points to what is wordless and unfathomable.
Our haiku seem to be like small waves on the infinite ocean, appearing and disappearing as creative expressions of the universal source. The innumerable waves are inseparable from the great ocean and its depths, so the illusion of separation is not as concrete as it may seem… Sometimes there is turbulence in those waves, but often, there is music in their movement, rising in and out of silence…. so may we find peace within our words, and our haiku…
– Jacob Salzer (USA)
The content of the haiku has been explored well, so I will add some notes about the sound and rhythm of the haiku.
The alliteration in the beginning with “where words” gives off an aura of seriousness. The “i” sounds in “fail,” “pines,” and cliff’s” supplies readers with a dramatic effect, and the usage of “f” sounds adds to the sharpness of the “i” sounds–this can connect to the sharpness of the pines.
Though it is a one-liner, the elongated syllables in the haiku make readers slow down and take in the words and their feeling.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)
What do you think or feel about this haiku? Let us know in the comments.