The Elements


….. Night storm –

….. Man waist-deep in the river

….. Lashing wooden boats.

(Arashiyama, 13.7.10)

7 Responses to “The Elements”

  1. Richard Donovan Says:

    Given your most recent plaintive e-missive, Stephen, this man sounds like you! Don’t worry — we’re here to man the lifeboats…. We’re here on an e-mission (does that sound wrong?!). Whatever: we’re here!


  2. John Dougill Says:

    Haha, I love Richard’s interpretation…. Stephen not drowning but lashing manfully in the middle of the night… the good news surely is that he’s only waist-deep…. I have the feeling that a haiku might come spilling down the torrent at any moment….

  3. Yoshiharu Says:

    目に浮かぶ光景。世界中で自然災害が多いこの頃。保津川の支流桂川での情景でしょうか。男の作業の必死さを行の初めの大文字N・M・Lに感じました。Thank you.

  4. I wonder why this man is lashing away at his boats. Is he angry at them, or at the storm, or at himself for not paying more attention to the NHK weather news?
    Of course, Tito means the lash that ties things together. But here I have a problem. From long ago, in my boyhood even, I have been bothered with words like this, that have more than one possible interpretation in context. The reason I love english as much as I do is that we have countless words at our disposal. The one book I cannot live without is Roget’s Thesaurus. Looking up “lash,” we find anchor, bind, tie. leash, secure, restrain, strap, rope, gyve, spancel, moor, to pick up the obvious ones.
    When I first read this haiku, the image of this man beating his boats with some stick or bludgeon popped into my imagination. Upset about something, but the poem gave few further clues. After this interesting respite, the poet’s meaning came forth, this man struggling against the current and the storm to moor his boats in place. Both images are valid, I feel, tho Tito never intended the more violent one.
    A haiku that leads the mind into interesting bypaths, what poesy’s supposed to do in the first place.

    • Nice imagery. The night storm…heavy rain, perhaps thunder, and then the occasional flashes of lightning revealing the figure of a man near the shoreline trying so vigorously to keep boats from being scattered out into the sea. Lots of action here.

      I think the word “lashing” works well with the phrase “Night storm” and inherent sounds and affects one might associate with during a storm. And as Richard noted, the word lashing also creates the possibilty of another image of what the man could be doing to those poor boats.

  5. I see Richard’s point, but “lashing” does have that great watery splashing sound that reinforces the “waist-deep in the river” image.

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