I saw this tweet in my timeline and was saddened. It celebrates a perfect day in a place of great beauty (marred somewhat by all those contrails), but the call to ‘bring on the summer’ abandons anything that might belong to the present. This poem is my response.
Have the half remembered paths, And crumbling plots of disrepair, Just lost their violets and forget-me-nots?
Have emerald lawns and woody banks Forsworn their daisies and Their shining celandine?
Are woody glades, Pierced by chance beams, Dry of bluebell seas?
Because we forget to breathe,
Because we forget to dream,
Because we forget to love,
We forget to see those little golden flies
dancing in the light
The lapidary shadows of the afternoon, Make gems of every tiny leaf. Shadow stems sway on lawns like Oarweed, One fathom deep in lazy tides.
An armoured and heraldic bug Drops on my lap, Reminding me of what is shared, Our legs, our eyes, our hearts.
So stay with me, And hold my hand a while. Breathe with me, Of breeze sent blossom, Remember the pleasure of the sheltered wall. Remember how we warmed ourselves, Because the air seemed chill under the cherry: Though we needed no excuse, No reason to look into each other’s eyes.
Could our breath be sweeter, or our hearts fuller Than now?
Summer is another country, many miles away, Where they do things strangely, And they speak another tongue.
I was criticised by someone on Twitter who told me that I should loosen up and ignore the 5/7/5 syllable ‘rule’. In one sense he is correct in saying that a syllable is not the equivalent of the Japanese mora. Even in English Haiku forms there are many variants. However, something about the form of the traditional Haiku appeals: the adherence to structure, the importance of the ‘cutting word’ and the seasonal reference.
I ‘wrote’ all of these out of doors. Nietzsche observed that “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking” and while I offer no judgement as to their worth or otherwise, I certainly found them useful to invent in the moment, and so for me they worked as ‘great thoughts’ in difficult times.