Haiku Reflections: One Thing or Another

Haiku is the name for the three-line Japanese poetic form that is loved by many for its quiet, meditative tone and nature themes. In haiku, nature is often used as a metaphor for something profound, leading readers to reflect more deeply on time, impermanence and the beauty and fragility of life. In today’s post, I share a few haiku on the theme of contrast, where contrast is used as a means to awaken us out of our habitual ways of looking at the world.

Minutes passed –
there was no music
but the wind

This haiku was inspired by John Cage’s controversial piece, “4’33” which was premiered in 1952. No musical instrument was played in the entire duration of the piece—four minutes, thirty-three seconds. The work was meant to be perceived as consisting of the ambient sounds of the surroundings that the listeners hear while it is “performed.” Likewise, this haiku encourages us to pay more attention to the myriad “voices” around us that are all but ignored.

you are

This haiku ponders on the miracle that we are, by contrasting our small bodies with the enormous number of cells that make up our tissues, organs, muscles, and bones, all of which we pay little or no attention to … until we fall sick.

In the blackness
one firefly lights
up the whole pond.

Life can be despairing at times, to the point we see nothing but darkness. Then, something happens (maybe you read a moving poem, or listened to an uplifting song) and you feel a little better, and some light comes back.

Joined with gold,
the cracked bowl
becomes a new bowl

Kintsugi — which means “join with gold” — is the Japanese art of repairing broken objects, often ceramic pottery or glass. Traditionally, gold lacquer is used to piece shards together again, creating a more beautiful object through the acts of breaking and repair. This haiku uses kintsugi as a metaphor for mending what is broken in our lives.

The white room with
a red apple – seen
for the first time

How often do we notice the textures of a familiar room? The honest answer is, not very often, if at all. What does it take for us to notice it more? The answer, as this haiku suggests, is a red apple, a metaphor for adding some spice to our life when it gets monotonous and “white”. Indeed, when artfully placed in a white room, the room not only takes on a more refreshing look; it also has the potential to shine as a work of art!

Leave a Reply