Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Time Is Out of Joint

"The time is out of joint. O cursed spite / That ever I was born to set it right."

Yeah, Hamlet, and how'd that work out for you? I looked up the etymology of "spite" as I pondered that quote. It comes from various European language words for "contempt," which I had never fully considered. "Spite" sounds so trivial, but it really isn't. It's the perfect word for our own out-of-joint present, our seemingly endless season of contempt.

And so, I succumbed to the tulips in bloom at the local grocery store. It was actually still December when I bought them, but December, January...it's like memory in haiku, out of joint and of debatable authenticity. I am not a strict adherent to the element of kigo in haiku; like all "traditional" haiku elements, kigo (the use of a seasonal word to indicate the present-ness of the poem) was misunderstood by the early English-language promoters of haiku and warped into a thing that never actually existed (the 5-7-5 syllable count is another example of this). So I use kigo sparingly, as a reminder to myself to think about the poem's relationship to the reality it (I hope) transcends.

What a wonderful paradox, then, to use "tulip" as the kigo in a haiku written in this winter clime. And  pinks and purples are way out of my aesthetic, as well, but these (to me) ooky colors I hope bring a little levity to the proceedings.

Levity, a disregard for seasonal cues, and spite. Bad poet, indeed.


bad poet
way out of season
buying tulips


  1. Hello, Jean_!
    __ I try to stay within the historic differences 'twixt haiku and senryu, with the exception of the "sound" counts; the flow of sound is more important than 'counting' those sounds. In the Japanese life sense, as we all understand, -less is more-. The distinction between 'earth' nature- and 'human' nature... I follow and within that 'human' nature, you and I believe as we believe. Nifty_!
    __ I'm long winded today, smiles. I often correspond with a writer named Giselle LeBlanc, any connection?
    __ Best wishes to you and yours in 2017 and beyond. _m

    1. Thank you! Yes, you make a good point about the distinction between haiku and senryu.

      No, I am not related to Giselle.

      Please feel free to comment here as often as you wish. This is how I learn. May 2017 bring you the all the best. --jel