Adrian Bouter’s lakeside mist

lakeside mist
takes the shape of a heron
morning news                 

Adrian Bouter (the Netherlands)
(previously published in Wales Haiku Journal, spring 2022)


The heron is frequently used in haiku for its features, colour, style, and voice in association with people’s realities. The heron can symbolize stability, knowledge, wisdom, and tact, which can be observed in its natural habitat which is usually a lake. Lakeside views are scenic and vivid, and give an overall perspective that is often mesmerizing and mysterious.

Being a nature observer, the poet shows the comparison between lakeside mist with what’s going on with their life, where new and creative perspectives help to filter and understand information such as news. It’s quite meditative, where a person gets relief through living close to nature by not trying to overthink about their situation. It’s obvious to me that the lakeside mist is more symbolic in this situation, where it acts as a canvas where a person paints their feelings—or circumstances are not clear to them.

The shape of a heron shows the delicacy of the situation, which might demonstrate how a person seeks solace in escapism through imagination, assuming the situation is in their control. This also shows how creatively we can solve our problems by merely seeing different but interesting perspectives. Morning news may vary from person to person. In this situation, it looks more like unpleasant or mundane morning news that the poet was not expecting. 

Hifsa Ashraf

I appreciate the mystery (yugen) in this haiku. The lakeside mist evaporating and revealing the heron could mean the news is revealing things that were once hidden from view. On the other hand, I could also see the morning news is the mist evaporating. What is revealed is something as ancient as Mother Earth and the heron. 

I’ve noticed every time I see a heron, he/she is alone. It seems they spend much of their time in solitude looking for fish. I equated this with the poet who also spends much of their time alone with Nature in solitude. 

It seems the morning news on TV or in a newspaper is often filled with negative events. I wonder if this haiku is expressing the poet’s struggle to find a resolution to all the noise of the morning news. This haiku for me shows how Mother Earth and the heron provide peace and solace. The morning news seems to be telling the story of human civilization while Mother Earth tells Her stories without words or thoughts. However, I also like how morning news could be the news of something personal going on in the poet’s life. In that interpretation, it could be good news.

The evaporating mist is a beautiful image that depicts impermanence. I get the stark reminder that our lives and the morning news are, ultimately, as transient as lakeside mist. However, the most beautiful part about this haiku (for me) is the peace and solitude found in both the poet and the heron. I think this is a haiku that encourages us to find peace in the chaos—to discover the calm eye of the storm.

Regardless of our interpretations, this haiku uses sharp images, yet also gives space for us to experience the moment. A strong haiku with meditative, philosophical, and psychological undertones.

 —Jacob D. Salzer

Upon research, herons are quite common in the Netherlands and are often sighted in Amsterdam. It is hard to tell which seasonal reference or kigo this haiku provides, but I would place this perhaps in spring. I can imagine a spring mist on a lake and herons being ubiquitous in this season. This lends power to the phrase “takes the shape of a heron” as spring is a time of new things coming and forming.

There is strictly no kireji or cutting word in this haiku, but the line break in the second line does it enough justice. There is an apparent syntactical break from line two to line three.

The association between morning news and the lakeside mist taking the shape of a heron is intriguing, creating a strong sense of toriawase, or layered juxtaposition. The poet has done well not to make the association too far or too close in connection, which is the essence of the art of haiku.

The length of the lines or pacing of the haiku is standard for English-language haiku, where the first line is short, the second line is longer, and the third line is short. This format emulates the traditional rhythm of Japanese haiku.

In terms of sound, my attention gets pulled toward the “i” and “o” sounds. The sharpness of the “i” contrasts well with the softness of the “o.”

Finally, this haiku follows the principles of brevity and simplicity in language. The feeling or mood of the haiku is easily accessible due to its language and flow. A wonderful haiku overall.

Nicholas Klacsanzky

Mist Over the Lake by Shufu Miyamoto

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