A dose of fetish. Good friends. An incomparable muse.
Good Morning! It’s Bastet here once more filling in for our Paloma who’s still not quite herself but who’s coming along nicely!
As you can see from the title, I’m going to look at an aspect of Japanese poetry called aware.
All the various forms in the Japanese pantheon of writing, have their very particular set of rules and goals. For example, long before Basho in the Edo Period wrote his first famous Haibun collection known as Oku no Hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Far North), writers and poets were writing a combination of prose with waka (poetry) usually with what we call tanka as mini lyrical essays or prefaces to larger works. However, Basho rose this practice to an art form coining the term haibun, crowning the prose poem with a hokku (which we call haiku) by adding an aspect to his form called aware. If the haiku is the understanding of the inner meaning of a moving moment (or a-ha moment) in an event … the haibun answers some of the questions of how one got to that inner meaning of the moving moment. The Japanese word for this inner meaning (or a-ha moment) is known as aware (pronounced ah-WAR-ay) or the spirit of the moment or object etc.
So the Haibun isn’t just the mundane description of an aspect of a voyage with a haiku tacked onto it but it is the effort to create a moment of aware or emotional reaction through the spirit of the moving moment without really stating what that emotion should be. The prose poem is completed by the haiku (or tanka) so the haiku shouldn’t just be a re-description of the moment but a sort of climax – the haiku by itself would perhaps be beautiful but one may not be able to understand the meaning hidden with-in it … it’s the complimentary aspect between the prose poem and the haiku that makes a Haibun a Haibun. Taking this further we can apply aware to the Haiga (a bit of visual art with a haiku) or the other poetic forms like the Choka or the Kyoka or Senryu … which is rather daring of me, as many of these latter forms are not considered poetry at all by Japanese Officialdom.
In any case, here’s an example of what I’m trying to talk about taken from a lovely essay written by Aimee Nezhukumatathil at Poet’s Org on February 20, 2014 :
“For example, in the haiku of a haibun in Oku no Hosomichi, Basho writes, “Taken in my hand it would melt, my tears are so warm—this autumnal frost.” A reader could have a literal understanding of this metaphor as a haiku, but its full effect—its aware—is apparent only when one reads the prose of the haibun that precedes it. In the prose of the haibun, the reader clearly sees that Basho used the word frost to describe holding his dead mother’s white hair. The haiku and prose poem of the haibun rely and lean on each other for a fuller, more resonant experience. In How to Haiku, Bruce Ross writes, “If a haiku is an insight into a moment of experience, a haibun is the story or narrative of how one came to have that experience.” A haibun should have a palpable, inherent sense of aware. Without it, as Basho warned, the poem becomes just a mundane list of travel and nature observations.”
For more information on the various aspects of aware in haibun visit the article above.
Haibun is a fairly recent form here in the West. It’s very experimental and many authors have different opinions of what Haibun is or isn’t … and as in most of what we do in the West, we have been known to get into some pretty virulent arguments as to what we’re doing. The purpose of this post is to show another aspect behind Japanese writing – the aware – which can be applied to Haibun, Haiku, Tanka or any other form of Japanese poetry and takes us beyond the trite birds and bees on yellow flowers to something deeper – not to open up to any more arguments.
Let’s see if I can create a Haibun for you as an example of aware.
Cold, the wind blew among the trees as the people followed behind the horse-drawn hearse. Although the sound of the wind, the leaves, the many foot-falls and the clomping of the horses filled the air along the road – everything seemed silent. A heart-beat which had boomed in her mind had stopped. Snow began to fall.
fall upon the city streets
mixed with autumn leaves
© G.s.k. ‘16
So, there’s my Haibun created for this occasion but I could have written a Shadorma or other form as you might choose to do yourselves. What I’m really looking for this week is not a specific form or genre, but the usage of a specific poetic instrument.
Now for a little inspiration to help you write with aware, which you may use or you may inspire yourself in some other way:
Once you’ve completed your poem please tag: Mindlovesmisery’s Menagerie and B&P’s Shadorma & Beyond, then link up to our Mr. Linky app.
Have a great week, Bastet.
BTW … someone asked me once if the poetic forms should be capitalized or not … I do so in my prompts (when I remember to do so) only to emphasize them a bit … it’s not obligatory as far as I know.