James Kirkup’s Butterfly

A butterfly fans
one buttercup, and then fans
one more buttercup

© James Kirkup (UK) (1918 – 2009)

A tricky one! Maybe it is a reflection on seduction and passionate love.

– Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

Well, I don’t generally like the use of “and” in a haiku. I particularly don’t like the use of the Oxford comma in this. I think it distracts from the language. I am not entirely convinced there is a valid juxtaposition. What do you think?

– Patricia (Switzerland)

Love its visual of dancing from buttercup to buttercup. It is lovely.
At first glance, I thought it gets chopped up by a fan.

– Robert Gillette (USA)

Well, there doesn’t have to be juxtaposition in haiku. Issa didn’t always use juxtaposition. This haiku is playful like Issa’s. I tend to find 5.7.5 syllable haiku quite boring, not always if well written, but this one uses syllables just to fill the quotient. Would this haiku be using the Shasei technique?

– Martha Magenta (UK)

This is an example of a 5-7-5 haiku that really works! It is playful; and although the subject is mundane, it strikes a soft spot in my heart. I would like to imagine the moment as something in slow motion that I wanted to cherish every second of; it is light and colorful as well. In all, a very masterful creation by a modern haijin.

– Willie Bongcaron (Philippines)

A find this haiku meditative, and that it gives readers an opportunity to imagine the scene it describes. It seems we first focus on the butterfly fanning one buttercup, and then our mind moves on to imagine a whole field of buttercups to be fanned. This attention and innocence of the butterfly is admirable.

What is interesting is how the repetition of “butter” in the words “butterfly” and “buttercup” reflect the field full of buttercups (at least that is what I imagine). Another instance of repetition in this haiku is “one” beginning both the second and third line, while the first and second line ends with “fans.”

The buttercup is often a seasonal reference to late spring. Maybe with the coming heat of summer, the butterfly is cooling them down (maybe recreating the mild atmosphere of early spring). The butterfly giving such focused attention humanizes it, and makes us wonder what really separates us from animals.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

What do you think or feel about this haiku? Let us know in the comments.


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