Friday, April 5, 2013

R. H. Blyth: Haiku's Big Picture

R. H Blyth Portrait from the British Haiku Society webpage

In the introduction to Haiku, Volume 3: Summer and Autumn, by R. H. Blyth, may be found the following:

"When we read these verses, we realize that haiku is a way of living. It offers itself to mankind, not as a substitute for Christianity or Buddhism, but as their fulfillment. It is "Love one another" applied to all things without exception."

This statement, quite simply, is the one that separates Blyth's detractors from his admirers. An article by Donna Farrell in 2004 addresses the Blyth approach (spiritual or Zen) versus the H. G. Henderson approach (imaginative or creative). The article is brief and to the point, and well worth a peek. I very much like her conclusion:

Perhaps the time has come for two umbrellas (whatever their size) rather than one.

There is, of course, a third approach, one which Ed Baker has espoused here, and in correspondence, on a number of occasions: he calls his haiku-like poems "shorties," and has done with it. 

Cheers, Ed! 

       My life,
How much more of it remains?
      The night is brief. 

their colorful umbrellas
low tide
translated by David G. Lanoue

Umbrellas by Cardboard Antlers 


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Ed Baker said...

looking her up in my
Funk and Wagnalls to
see her in this light

Blyth is/was more phun than

Isn't Henderson part of that World Haiku Society who wants to (absolutely) define, package and sell (haiku) poetry ?

or am I thinking of another Club ?

hey, thanks for the "nod my way"

this just-now-done and printed out version of AS I RECALL is the absolute
final version ...

Carmen Sterba said...

In Donna Ferrell's last sentence, she refers to divergent views of haiku by saying:

"Perhaps the time has come for two umbrellas (whatever their size) rather than one."

I believe that haiku with objective emotion, imaginative haiku and haiku with spiritual inspiration (not only zen but from Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Islam and other faiths) should all be accepted. The bottom line is that haiku's brevity and restraint come from the zen aesthetics.

Ed Baker said...

"objective emotion" , "imaginative haiku" , "spiritual inspiration" :

HUH ????

when did zen become a "religion" ?

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

All part of that one Club, we'll be meeting just over that bit of horizon or round some unexpected corner.

It's a big thanks to you for everything, Ed. Your focus and dedication mean a lot to me.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Thanks so much, Carmen. I'm not sure what Blyth would think - but I'm with you.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Ed, shorties, one and all.