a moment before sunrise –
beneath the swans’ feet
(Winner of the Katikati Haiku Contest, 2010)
© Martin Lucas (1962 – 2014) (UK)
I feel this haiku is so amazing.
a moment before sunrise I think the poet is waiting for the sunrise. Catching the first orange ray from the edge of the sun is so boosting for our spirit.
ice singing I didn’t know ice could sing. In curiosity, listening to a YouTube video about the crackling sounds of ice, I felt so good, the sounds were like songbirds, but no, different… They are like quantum plasma gun-shooting in movies… Zap…! Zap!
beneath the swans’ feet Maybe I could relate this line to love, because swans are a symbol of love. I think the poet is sending messages of love to all readers, and it is a sweet moment having a chance to read this haiku.
– Fei Zhan (Indonesia)
Generally, a sunrise indicates warm feelings, energy, hope, optimism, and life. Ice indicates cold feelings, passivity, and death.
Besides this, there is another aspect contrary to my above comments, which is the hidden beauty and grace of every season, whether it is winter, autumn, spring, or summer. The ice singing indicates that the season is at its peak and there are certain elements of nature that enjoy the cold season because it boosts their energies, creativity, and imagination. It is my personal experience that my creative energy is at its peak in autumn and winter as compared to summer.
A swan symbolizes beauty, love, and grace that is again the manifestation of the beauty of the winter season, especially ice. Another word here makes me curious about this haiku, which is the swan’s webbed feet that helps it with swimming. Here, even the swan cannot disturb the creatures below the ice who are enjoying the season and being protected due to a thick layer of ice before the sunrise.
– Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)
This is an amazingly interesting haiku, as it introduces something new to many readers. I have never heard of “ice singing” before. I found video recordings of singing ice on YouTube. Changes in temperature can cause ice on a lake to make “otherworldly” sounds.
I wonder whether there is an allusion to the myth about swans dying when they sing. The comparison is fitting because swans sing quite strangely in a wide range of notes. I can just imagine the ice and the swan singing together as the sun is about to rise. I wonder if the swan is coming in to land on the ice, perhaps skating then walking on the ice, and this stimulates the ice’s singing.
– Martha Magenta (UK)
Although I no longer live where ponds, lakes, or rivers freeze over, I used to live in such a place, and I have relived that experience in this haiku. I picture the speaker of this verse on a cold winter morning just before the sun rises, a moment before it does. It is cold, and is probably early in the winter season, or perhaps late in it. Whatever, the ice is not thick, probably not thick enough to hold the weight of a human, but just thick enough to hold the weight of a swan stepping onto the frozen icy surface, walking across it, and the ice gives a bit, there is a cracking/snapping sound, a singing sound, if you will, as the swan steps away from the shore making its way to the open pool that is not frozen over. Except for the sound of the ice giving under the swan’s weight, there is silence. So nice to have relived this experience in my mind (and without having to suffer the icy cold morning to do so).
– Dana Grover (USA)
In Japanese haiku, ”ice” and “swan” are seasonal references or ”kigo.” So, there are many “swan” haiku in Japan. The kigo of “swan” is understood as a winter migratory bird in Japan. Japanese haijin know “swan” is a metaphor of “love.”
But, not really as a metaphor of “love” in Japanese haiku.
The swan’s graceful beauty and luxuriousness give readers a strong impression. So, I felt it is too much if I would add the metaphor of a luxurious swan to my impression.
The second line “ice singing” attracts the interest of readers. If I interpret this “swan” as a metaphor of love, this haiku will include two strong main subjects of “love” and “ice singing.” I would like to read this work simply as haiku. This haiku is really beautiful and a quiet sight.
– Norie Umeda (Japan)
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Learn more about Martin Lucas: https://livinghaikuanthology.com/index-of-poets/livinglegacies/5387-lucas,-martin.html