the dead moth
it flies away
— George Klacsanzky (1956-2003)
(published in Yanty’s Butterfly: Haiku Nook: An Anthology (2016))
Brevity, simplicity, and honesty always reflect in George’s haiku. Every time I write about his poems, I see a new aspect of his life that helps me know more about this great haiku poet.
The opening line ‘touching’ pauses the moment and lets the readers feel the resonance of this sense and its subtlety. It also suggests how hard it is to focus on nuances of life but when one does, there is an element of surprise in them. In this haiku, the writer shares the concept of seeing beyond sight where even stillness looks moving. The dead moth presents the depth of life, the transformation of life, that one cannot see but feel through one’s third eye or insight and once one does, miracles happen and thoughts get transformed into wisdom and reveal the secrets of life that are long-lasting. Somehow, there are shades of mysticism that make this haiku more open to the concept of life in death.
— Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)
I love this haiku. The first word that comes to mind is resurrection: something seemingly dead is brought back to life. The moth flying away could be a metaphor for rejuvenation within a relationship or your own self. Maybe an old hobby is given attention again. Or, maybe a neglected house is being remodeled. Something seemingly dead is given new life. George’s haiku reminds us that what appears to be motionless or dead could be only an appearance; it speaks to how subtle life can be. Maybe the moth was sleeping? Maybe it was just resting. But through his touch, by making a connection with the moth, it seems to move on to the next stage of its life.
This could apply to humans too: when someone genuinely reaches out and touches us in some way, we are often sparked with a new energy that makes us feel fresh and alive. Like making a new friend, this connection helps us grow and evolve in the next stages of our lives. The vision of the moth flying away also gives me a feeling of liberation and transcendence. Just like a butterfly, moths go through the process of metamorphosis—a process that we as humans may go through as well. A beautiful haiku. This haiku is one of my all-time favorites.
— Jacob Salzer (USA)
Hifsa and Jacob have brought up great points in terms of meaning and substance. I’ll take a look at the more technical aspects of this haiku.
One can say the kigo of this haiku is summer. Traditionally in Japan, moths are a seasonal reference for summer. That may not be the case in Seattle, Washington where this poem was written though. However, as this poet’s son and growing up in Seattle, I can say that moths do come out quite a bit in the summer in the Pacific Northwest.
But the second half of the haiku seems to relate more to spring, with the theme of resurrection, as Jacob pointed out. Moths come out in sizable numbers in spring in Seattle as well. So, “moth” as a seasonal word can relate to the content directly.
I also wanted to point out the sense of sound, with the powerful music of “o” in the first two lines and the lack of “o” in the last line. This creates a stronger sense of the starkness of the moment described.
As Hifsa said, my father focused a lot on brevity. With only seven words, every word counts and shines through. It is said that only geniuses can explain complicated concepts in simple terms. I think that is the art of the haiku poet.
A haiku that is at once mundane and supernatural, and melancholic and awe-inspiring.
— Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)