Haiku - Golden Rules For Enjoying Poetry.
I loved the book 'The Ode Less Travelled' by Stephen Fry. In the Foreword entitled, How To Read This Book, Fry offers guidelines which have resonated with me ever since I have read it and reread it. It would not feel right or be right for me to replicate the pages but I do want to share a brief summary of the Golden Rules he offers for reading the book, and I hope it encourages you further.
Rule One - Slowly! (It's Like Eating Chocolate)
Savour every word and every line. Reading verse can be like eating chocolate - so much more pleasurable when you allow it slowly to melt inside of you, so much less rewarding when you snap off big chunks and bolt them whole, all but untasted. In our age, one of the glories of poetry is that it remains an art that demonstrates the virtues and pleasures of taking your time. You can never read a poem too slowly, but you can certainly read one too fast.
Read out loud. Among the pleasures of poetry is the sheer physical, sensual, textural, tactile pleasure of feeling the words on your lips, tongue, teeth and vocal chords.
Rule Two - Don't Look for Meaning
Never worry about ‘meaning’ when you are reading poems. Just as the reading of each poem takes time, so a relationship with the whole art of poetry itself takes time. Observation of Rule One will allow meaning to emerge at its own pace.
Rule Three - Ready to Write
Buy a notebook, exercise book or jotter pad and lots of pencils. Take it with you everywhere. When you are stuck in an airport, travelling by train, just doodle with words. Write, don’t type. As you learn new techniques and methods for producing lines of verse, practise them all the time.
Experience the Difference
Here are a few of my favourite haiku. Select one, read it aloud, articulate each word slowly and carefully and feel the words on your lips, tongue, teeth and vocal chords. Allow the images to present themselves to you without looking for them. Enjoy!
My dear old village
Every memory of home
Pierces like a thorn
(Issa 1762 - 1826)
Through frozen rice fields
Moving slowly on horseback
My shadow creeps by
(Basho 1644 - 1694)
In seasonal rain
Along a nameless river
Fear too has no name
(Buson 1715 - 1783)
At the ancient pond
A frog plunges into
The sound of water
(Basho 1644 - 1694)