again the wood-deep echo of a cuckoo’s song
— Kala Ramesh (India)
(previously published in Heliosparrow Haiku Journal, March 2021)
I appreciate the synesthesia between sound and imagery in this monoku. “wood-deep echo” harbors a deep silence that is beautiful, mysterious, and almost haunting. I also visualize the cuckoo’s song resonating with the rings hidden inside trees. This creates a sense of harmony where the cuckoo and the forest have become one. I can hear the cuckoo’s song and echoes resonating within the poet’s quiet presence as well. I experience this myself as I read this too. I am transported into the scene. I can imagine the cuckoo’s song creating ripples in consciousness itself and perhaps simultaneously extending into past lives and the future.
This is an excellent monoku with depth, meaning, and a strong atmosphere.
— Jacob D. Salzer
This monoku has a series of variations that make it dynamic and deep. I read it in many ways to get the layers of various themes that the poet tried to discuss.
It starts with ‘again’ which means there is a repetition of whatever is following it. It also shows the curiosity of the person who is passing through the same experience again and enjoying it fully.
The wood-deep echo may allude to memories, news, imagination, or illusions that a person feels or listens to due to deep silence, meditation, or wind. However, it seems the person has a deep connection where they want to hear what is pleasant to the ears or what is more distinctive than other voices. This also reflects a state of mind that is calm, still, and focused. A cuckoo’s song refers to something special—like in Indian mythology, a cuckoo’s song is related to the beginning of the monsoon season.
Overall, it is a deeply personal experience of a moment that connects the person with what is going on and what is coming after. It also signifies the relationship between nature and human nature that is tightly woven with the senses. I see it as meditative where a person tries to attune to the cuckoo’s song which brings joy in their life sooner or later.
As Hifsa mentioned, the cuckoo’s song is commonly a harbinger of the monsoon season. Since the poet is from India, this can be said to be a kigo (seasonal reference) local to this country. Traditionally, the cuckoo is a kigo for about every season in Japan and a beloved bird of that country. A famous haiku magazine in Japan is named Hototogisu (cuckoo), which started in 1897.
There is no kireji, or cutting word, in this haiku. However, there is a grammatical pause after “again” which makes the haiku either two parts or one. In the English language, kireji are not commonly used in one-line haiku.
Even though there is only one image at face value, there are two considering the word “again.” The depth and ethereal nature of the cuckoo’s echo is repeated with all of its richness. The echo is wood-deep perhaps because some cuckoos nest inside trees. This richness of sound, when repeated, can bring about a sense of bliss and spirituality. The song is also a union of tree and bird, which makes it even more robust.
Kala Ramesh’s haiku often showcase euphony, and this monoku is no exception. The soothing “o”s and soft “n”s create a melodic reading—as if the cuckoo was singing through the haiku.
This haiku has a timeless feel to it, as I feel it can be read in any era and can resonate. A classic, yet modern work.
Sumi-e by Ogata Gekko
2 thoughts on “Kala Ramesh’s wood-deep echo”
Thanks a million.
This is a lovely gift on Sankranti.
I loved reading all three commentaries. You have analysed the one-line extremely well.
I’m seeing nuances which I never saw before!
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Thank you for the kind words. I hope you had a great Sankranti celebration.