Mountains Haiku by Issa | The Poetry Chaikhana


Welcome to the Poetry Chaikhna Sacred Poetry from Around the World. With Ivan M. Granger Mountains mirrored in his eye — dragonfly Mountains
mirrored in his eye — dragonfly This is, to me, one of those wonderful haiku. You know, haiku have this magical quality
of taking just an instant in nature, not even a complete thought or observation,
just a fragment, and it unpacks and unfolds. And it suggests so many things, the more you
think about it and run it through your head. Like this one, “Mountains / mirrored in
his eye — / dragonfly” You get so many elements playing out. First of all, if you just follow the lines
of the haiku, it’s like you can see the frame moving in tighter with each line. So, first, you have “mountains.” You know, I live here in Colorado at the foot
of the Rocky Mountains. Every day I get this amazing panorama of the
Rocky Mountains. And I have a sense of their immensity. They really, in their quiet way, dominate
the psychology of everyone who lives here. So you get this immense, stable image of these
mountains. Very quickly that frame pulls in tighter. And you realize that the mountains are actually
mirrored in someone’s eye. It’s a reflection of the mountain. And then it pulls in as tight as you can get
when you realize that the eye it’s reflected in is a dragonfly’s. To me, dragonflies have a particularly interesting
quality as they come up in poetry. It’s a common animal to appear in especially
a lot of Japanese haiku. I’m not sure it’s fair to say that these
poets intend the dragonfly to represent A, B, or C, but they tend to use them in a way that suggests something about the meditator’s mind. Because if you think about a dragonfly for
a moment, they’re so delicate. If you picture a dragonfly on a warm summer’s
day, the way it darts around in the air, it’s ephemeral, it’s intangible. It’s seemingly impossible to catch,
like the normal mind during its busy, frantic activity, jumping this way and that, and never
quite still. But then all of a sudden that dragonfly will
come to a halt midair where it’s just hovering there. And it’s so still even though it’s flying. It’s just so perfectly still. It’s like the mind when it comes to rest
in deep meditation. And when that mind comes to rest, it then
becomes capable of true reflection. Of reflecting something that’s much more
immense than its own small, intangible nature would seem capable of. So in this case, we can see this intangible
little dragonfly reflecting the massive immensity of mountains. And that might suggest the same way that the
meditator’s mind, when it suddenly comes to stillness becomes capable of reflecting the immensity of the greater reality,
of the whole reality undivided. So we get this wonderful, very short haiku: Mountains
(Mountains!) mirrored in his eye — dragonfly By Kobayashi Issa. Visit the Poetry Chaikhana online at poetry-chaikhana.com Come and explore the poetry of mystics, poets,
and saints from around the world.

2 thoughts on “Mountains Haiku by Issa | The Poetry Chaikhana

  1. Thank you Ivan Granger for introducing me to this haiku of Kabayashi Issa. I have intention of doing a collection on my mountain experience and hope to share a copy of the book with you in future.

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