Speaking of imagery… the perfect form to illustrate imagery is the haiku. A special poetic form that is near and dear to my heart. It is deceptively simple – everybody can count out the meter within seconds (5-7-5), but will spend a lifetime trying to be zen enough to use it to its fullest form. Haiku is about capturing a moment with the perfect words that speak to that moment. I always think of it as a moment of satori (burst of enlightenment or revelation) where a sight, sound, smell, touch or taste touches you on a very deep insightful level. It’s difficult to express haiku or what the poem is saying to you, but you have to have a very quiet mind to read it and understand the full moment of beauty.
Imagery in poetry in general is like this trying hard to express the perfect image in the perfect words to send across an idea or feeling to the audience. In yesterday’s poem it was idea that was trying to express itself: the Metro is filled with beauty and wonder. In today’s poem it is a visceral feeling that captures a moment or rather expresses an emotion.
Sometimes the most powerful prose comes from the most common sensory experiences – the dank smell of feces, the fresh smell of blossoms these two smells put the reader straight into the action. If a character enters a door and the room smells feces, subconsciously the reader thinks of this room as an evil, or at the very least, bad place to be. It always amazes me how the simple evokes so much. I think this is why the haiku is such a powerful form of poetry.
The Piercing Chill I Feel
by Taniguchi Buson
The piercing chill I feel:
my dead wife’s comb, in our bedroom,
under my heel…
This next haiku I included just because I LOVE Basho and I love the Fall.
On a Barren Branch
by Matsuo Basho
On a barren branch
a raven has perched –