Friday, February 8, 2013

Silent Flowers 3: Four Poems

Artwork by Nanae Ito

This is the third post on the diminutive little Hallmark haiku collection Silent Flowers. I revisited this book last month, taking a look at 6 poems that I hadn't talked in my first post back in 2010.  Here are 4 more excellent poems from Silent Flowers, translated by R. H. Blyth and astutely selected by Dorothy Price, that haven't appeared in either post.

The first three all appear within a page of each other, and seem to focus on a single image, the smaller the better:

    The kitten
Holds down the leaf,
    For a moment.

Here is a fine example of the exception to the rule, the rule being: show, never tell. Well, perhaps the reason it works is that it does a bit of both. 

     You can see the morning breeze 
Blowing the hairs 
     Of the caterpillar.
I would say with the layout we can feel the morning breeze though we can't see it, particularly in the fine opening line (which, of course, breaks yet another rule). 

Do not trample to pieces 
    The pearls of bright dew. 
The observation in the later two poems is so finely delineated as to be absolutely marvelous.  Each does what a ku should do - captures a perfect little moment; yet in this case all three share another quality. These are not pictures painted, or photos snapped: they are all moments in motion, the movement acutely emphasizing the fleeting quality of a moment, yet capturing it in that movement.

Magicians at work.

A few more pages along comes a 4th ku, and this one captures not just the body and mind, but the soul: 

Yield to the willow
All the loathing, all the desire
Of your heart

 I yi yi yi! We are yielding to the willow, we are yielding to desire, we are yeilding to loathing, we are yielding to our heart ...

Let us yield to Bashō. 

At this rate, I have a feeling there will be a 4th post on Silent Flowers.


the village child
clutching the willow
sound asleep
translated by David G. Lanoue


And, of course, yield to the raven.



Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 156 songs


Ed Baker said...

first learn the rules
then break the rules
be-come entirely

such few lines deftly
have pinned-down every
thing on that erotic
weeping willow

another refreshing post D.W.

Mary Ahearn said...

It's been a rough day here- and I don't mean the weather- these haiku made it much better. Magicians for sure. And the crow/raven in the wavy willow, beautiful. The peace of yielding.
Thank you, thank you. Sincerely.

Charles Gramlich said...

I think I like the grasshopper one the best but all these are pretty neat.

Greg said...

Don, thanks for the enlightenment. Haven't seen this collection before, I have another Hallmark volume from around the same time, but I'm going to order it now.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Ah, the lessons we learn after we learn our lessons. Blyth's deftness in rendering akin to Nanae Ito's delicate strokes.


Issa's Untidy Hut said...


So glad these little poems and artwork gave a lift on a tough day.

The peace of yielding, indeed. Hope things have improved.


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

The precision of the grasshopper and the precision of the poet - all is one, Charles.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


These Blyth translations are stunning and I give credit to Dorothy Price for her fine eye in selecting from Blyth huge cache.