A Haiku A Day Keeps The Doctor Away – with notes


Branches yield and sway,

Cattle stand, backs to the wind –

Debris surrendered.

I have been wondering whether to write notes for the Haiku or not – giving them a title is already a compromise, as the hidden meaning is important. However, it is likely that many people only see a brief glimpse of them and do not give them much thought. So please let me know if you would like notes at least sometimes or if it feels patronising or takes away from your own interpretation, which could be quite different from mine but just as valid 🙂

Anyway, I will write some for today’s Haiku and you can let me know what you think. First of all every Haiku should contain a ‘kigo’ – that is a word pertaining to the time of year or the season, in order to capture a moment. This is usually, but not necessarily, something from nature. In today’s Haiku, it is a bit vague, namely the wind. We can have windy days at any point in the year, but they are more frequent in late autumn and winter (apologies to readers in the southern hemisphere or the tropics!). The image of cattle standing with their backs to the wind makes it feel colder and more like winter. So the first two lines are about yielding to the wind, relaxing and accepting it, rather than resisting and fighting against it.  Of course the wind here is also a symbol for all the things we resist or fight against needlessly, because we perceive them to be a threat to us when they are not (some things of course should be resisted). The cattle still look totally relaxed slowly chewing the cud as they stand. Too often, human beings feel stressed by the wind and either avoid it altogether, or if they do have to go out in it, tense their muscles, screw up their faces and push their way through it as quickly as possible. This all feels quite unpleasant, the emotions and mind also become disturbed. If we can act like the trees and cattle, on the other hand, we can relax our bodies and minds (up to a point – we may need to tense a little to avoid falling over), and accept the wind as the expanding air element, notice how it affects our breathing and imagine it moving through us rather than crashing into us. We can stand with our backs to it, we can flex if we have to walk against it or, we can even lean into it and enjoy its power (see my profile photo!). Then, we can imagine it cleaning out our negative emotions and unhelpful thoughts. We can give up, let go of, surrender them to the wind. This is the last line of the Haiku, ‘debris surrendered’. Our negative thoughts and feelings can be blown away with the plastic bags and beer cans or sticks, as we become one with the presence of the wind. It almost forces us to let go as we struggle to catch our breath. Ultimately, we have to surrender our ego to become a fully enlightened, contented and fulfilled human being, fully integrated into the Universe in which we find ourselves, and the nature of being. So this Haiku describes the varying degrees of surrender: yielding physically, letting go of negative emotions and thoughts, and surrendering ego.

Helpful or not? Let me know.

About Basho Barr

Inspired by the great Japanese Haiku master, Matsuo Basho, I try to capture a daily moment in a small but perfectly formed Haiku.
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2 Responses to A Haiku A Day Keeps The Doctor Away – with notes

  1. Billy Bibbit says:

    Notes are a good idea depending on what you – the writer – want to achieve. I feel they worked this time round.

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