Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
Contents Archives About Simply Haiku Submissions Search
Summer 2008, vol 6 no 2


Kasen : A Glimpse of Gain - Commentary and Analysis


A Glimpse of Gain had been formulated as an autumn kasen renku. Dick Pettit and I tried to make of it a true exercise of collaborative writing. Progress depended on how best each responded to the previous stanza by a verse which reflected Bashô's haikai style, yet somehow showed that it had been written in the west, at some time in the twenty-first century.

For efficiency one of us had to be sabaki. This fell to Dick Pettit, and so he produced a template. There had to be some kind of guidelines. However, when it came to pick each link, that was done mainly by an exchange of views. We usually chose each link out of a set of three verses proposed as offers.

The template showed that the moon / blossom / love verses were to be assigned their traditional places where it was feasible.

The aspects of the jo - ha - kyû would be closely followed. From #7 through to #30, we saw to images that pointed out a kind of urban living. Therefore, aspects such as:

A play's choreography (#7)
Parliamentary Democracy (#8)
Private property for development (#13)
Universal literacy / freedom of expression / accessibility to information (#14)
Health-conscious behaviour in the midst of the junk-food culture of the Age (#19)
Cultural / social aspects of countries coming from the same geographical region (#21)
Urban society in its vivid colours of family life, traditions and the creative arts (#23-26)

Overall, we aimed for a piece of work which showed unity and style.

Only in an extraordinary situation would we depart from the template. Such a challenge presented itself with Dick Pettit's verse,

a flare on the bluff
the first Sankt Hans fire
as light fades.

(Saint John's Eve - Midsummer night)

It flowed mellifluously through the renku-ha and read so perfectly. No stylistics about it, but pure verse. We just could not let go of it or hope that there would be a place for it later. We did not want to bank on that. It had to be # 21 even though by the rota this should have been my verse. While that part of the renku might look rather arcane, it was all done in the interest of linking and shifting.

Finally, I would like to say that we aimed for a sort of overall unity in spite of the range of people, places, events and periods of time depicted. Autumn would show to be the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.

Francis Attard



A Glimpse of Gain - with analysis of season and link

  Francis Attard
Dick Pettit
Season (kigo); special topic  Link  


Side 1 - jo


a glimpse of gain
the glitter of a dewdrop
at daybreak

Autumn (dewdrop)    

diamonds send lasers of light
out of investment offers

Autumn (husbandry, production) Meaning link: glitter / light  

a thing said
misty moon at noonday
chill in its whiteness

Autumn (moon); moon Meaning link: lasers of light / whiteness  

no reply: the woodman
disappears among the rows

Seasonless. Meaning link: a thing said / no reply  

after preening
pheasant's ochres show
in its plumage

Spring (pheasant) Scent link: disappears / show  

the wardrobe mistress fits
a yellow Easter bonnet

Spring (Easter) Meaning link: ochres / yellow  


Side 2 - ha


she holds the sword
between both hands, as if
it were a petition

Seasonless   Meaning link: seamstress / actress  

in the Strangers' Gallery
whispered, "I can't stay long."

Seasonless  Object link: petition / Strangers' Gallery  

a cautious note
slipped in the morning box
goes astray

Seasonless; love  Scent link: whispered / cautious  

baffled at being called
his Dark Lady

Seasonless; love. Reflection: goes astray / baffled (by the chance that a note has finished in the wrong hand)  

the cold moon
races from cloud to cloud
increasing doubt

Winter (cold); moon  Object link: dark / doubt  

in no hurry, slim talk
of New Year's resolutions

Winter (New Year's)  Meaning link: races / in no hurry  

he's promised
to take on the allotment
and built a wall

Seasonless Object link: resolutions / promised  

a passer-by queries
the first graffito

Seasonless Scent link: to take on / queries  

looking for spring
she spots a white speck
under the hedge

Spring (spring) Scent link: graffito / white speck  

beachcombing to beat
the pain of low spirit

Spring (beachcombing) Meaning link: under / low  

foam scuds
from wavetop to wavetop
into surf

Spring (foam, surf) Object link: low spirits / wavetop  

which of the four seasons
in Buddha's obese look?

Seasonless  Reflection: high tide / obese look  


Side 3 - ha


workday's over
at the vegans club, the cook
glad of his wife's cooking

Seasonless Meaning link: obesity / refined cooking  

comfort in jeans and slippers
a balmy summer night

Summer (balmy)  Meaning link: well-fed / physical.relaxation  

a flare on the bluff
the first Sankt Hans fire
as light fades

Summer (solstice fire festival). Meaning link: night / as light fades  

fallen to the ground in June
ripe passion fruit

Summer (June) Scent link: the bonfire festival which commemorates the martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist / passion  

a potted myrtle
is her special favourite ...
didn't he know?

Seasonless; love Scent link: passion (for sexual feelings) / knowledge (for sexual behaviour)  

beyond the formal garden
a hollow in rough grass

Seasonless; love Meaning link: potted myrtle / formal garden. Apart from the implicit sexual reference  

in the finished sketch
Henry Moore reclines against
a Yorkshire landscape

Seasonless Object link: formal garden / Yorkshire landscape  

pointing out with his pipe
highlights of the family tree

Seasonless Object link: Henry Moore / the pipe-smoking head of the family  

leaf smoke
in the far distance
rising wind

Autumn (leaf smoke) Object link: pipe / smoke  

from shade to brilliance
footsteps on the frost

Autumn (frost) Scent link: rising wind / footsteps  

uncut weeds
in the disused graveyard
nearing harvest moon

Autumn (moon); moon Object link: brilliance / colourful weeds  

all we see of the fox
is a tail sticking up

Seasonless Scent link: uncut weeds / tail sticking up  


Side 4 - kyû


feather in his cap
out with the boss's daughter
and her girl-friend

Seasonless Object link: tail (fur) / feather (plumage)  

mask for Carnival arrives
on Shrove Tuesday at mealtime

Winter (Carnival) Reflection: guilt / Shrove Tuesday  

the drawn face
of a penitent, clean
and turned again

Seasonless Meaning link: mask / drawn face  

water boils for tea
bird song for insomnia

Spring (bird song) Scent link: rigour of self-imposed penitence / rigours of insomnia  

out early
dew on blossom and grass

Spring (blossom); blossom Object link: insomnia / out early  

a glider takes off
into the spring sky

Spring (spring sky) Scent link: hesitating / takes off  


Related articles in this issue of Simply Haiku:
Kasen renku - A Glimpse of Gain (unannoted version)


Copyright 2008: Simply Haiku