Saturday, 26 April 2014

New York Haiku

In America and Canada April is National Poetry Month. As part of the event the New York
Times asked it's readers to write haiku about the city. The writers were asked to use the traditional 17 syllable form. The essence of haiku is "cutting" (kiru). This is often represented by the juxtaposition of two images or ideas and a kireji ("cutting word") between them, a kind of verbal punctuation mark which signals the moment of separation and colors the manner in which the juxtaposed elements are related.

Here are some of the one's that I like......

Strange how fast night comes:
Silence, as I pass through you,
wide awake at dark.

Beware the puddle
of indeterminate depth
that swallows boots whole       (strikes a cord after the floods here in the UK)

Homeless gentleman
White cane seeks safe street crossing
Teenage boy takes arm

Behind him a trail
of bread crumbs, popcorn and seeds.
He makes birds happy

Mistrust grips the heart.
Though we travel in large packs,
we are still alone.

Coffee by myself
The wind whispers names of friends
Yet alone I sit

Park at Winter dawn
We danced through each orange gate
Unconcealing Spring

Our eyes avoid but
If we looked we would see that
We might just be friends.

Since 2000 Great Britain has celebrated a National Poetry Month each October. This follows on from the BBC polling the nation for our favourite poem back in 1995.

Kipling's "If" won by a mile polling twice as many votes as the runner up The Lady of Shalott by erstwhile West Wight resident, Alfred, Lord Tennyson. In subsequent votes the Beeb changed the rules to stop us voting for Kipling again. If remains the Nation's and my favourite poem, so here it is........

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

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