Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Summer 2005, vol 3 no 2
  The Triparshva: a summary  
  The Triparshva is a 22 verse renku pattern proposed (March 2005) by the Irish poet Norman Darlington. The name is Sanskrit for ‘trilateral'. Accordingly the Triparshva is a three face poem comprising a six verse preface (JP: jo), a ten verse intensification (JP: ha), and a six verse rapid close (JP: kyu).

Two seasons appear on each face, always separated by at least one non-season verse. Seasons do not straddle the face boundaries and the ‘major’ seasons, spring and autumn, do not appear in succession. Spring and autumn feature more prominently than do winter and summer, and there is an approximate balance overall between seasonal and non-season verses.

Spring Blossom and Autumn Moon retain their traditional pre-eminence; a second moon verse features in a manner similar to the Nijuin whilst the appearance of both seasons and topics is governed by a suitable degree of flexibility. The relatively long intensification movement affords space for a thorough treatment of 'love', accommodating both call-for-love (JP: koi no yobidashi) and end-of-love (JP: koi banare).

  The Triparshva: a personal appraisal 
  The Triparshva is something of a triumph. In your editor’s opinion there is every possibility that it will prove to be the first English-language renku innovation to gain wider acceptance.

Shorter outline patterns for renku are much in demand, not least because so much contemporary composition is remote, taking place via email and internet message board. The attractions of international and intercultural collaboration are legion but the length of time needed to complete the otherwise irreproachable Kasen can, for all but the most practiced of poets, place serious strains on the togetherness of the enterprise. This creative cohesion is an essential prerequisite for artistic excellence. If its preservation demands special measures so be it. But the shorter forms of renku are not without their stylistic drawbacks:

The 12 verse Junicho is admirably flexible, but sacrifices the jo-ha-kyu movement, formally so at least.

The 12 verse Shisan is a delight, but baroque in its intricacy and difficult to do well.

The 18 verse Han-Kasen is best passed lightly over.

At 20 verses the late Meiga Higashi’s Nijuin is rightly acclaimed as a means to approach the aesthetics of Edo period haikai-no-renga. But the Nijuin is not without its drawbacks: jo and kyu are barely long enough to develop their own internal dynamic; neither face of ha affords sufficient space for a full exploration of the classic characteristics of ‘love’.

The Triparshva by contrast offers both jo and kyu enough time to develop their special tonal characteristics. The intensification movement is only two verses shorter than a single ha face of the Kasen. It therefore allows for a more concerted exploration of both content and dynamics. Indeed it may not be an exaggeration to say that a poet who masters the Triparshva has been well prepared to better understand and exploit the classical characteristics of the Kasen.

The reader will have gathered that this particular author is very enthusiastic about the Triparshva. But don't believe it. Not until you have tried this new proposal for yourself!

John Carley, Rossendale 2005


Related items in this issue of Simply Haiku:
~ The Triparshva: schema and notes – Norman Darlington

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