Shaping (Haibun)

 

Shaping (Haibun)

He needed to shape things, make them his. Stones in the garden, carved wooden bookstands, the absence of light in certain corners of the house, all captured this need. His was not so much a desire for control as a means of learning, of observing and participating in processes not ordinarily viewed as such. To watch shadows develop in the presence of trees and vine-covered walls, flowering for brief moments, their entire lives encompassed in seconds: he wanted to hold and be held, to breathe in what the air brought him and return what he could. To live.

what greeting is this?
bugs tapping at my window
tell me winter’s gone

In the evening he often sat in a room lit only by a candle in an old iron lantern. He preferred candlelight for it did not obliterate darkness as did the electric lamps, but diminished it, allowing a room new life. Each crevice in the book shelves became a new world, each doorway an entrance to something beyond one’s perceptions of black and white, the difference of moon and sun. Corners lost their edges. Shadows flowered with every movement of the candle’s flame, became hands without bodies, fingers tapping time to an unheard music.

no gods in this room
singing the blues
darkness lights the way

 

74 thoughts on “Shaping (Haibun)

  1. I’m not sure (and don’t think) that reading a poem has actually ever brought tears to my eyes before. Robert, I can’t really express what a beautiful, articulate and moving piece of writing this is.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “A Japanese room might be likened to an inkwash painting, the paper-paneled shoji being the expense where the ink is thinnest, and the alcove (tokonoma) where it is darkest.Whenever I see the alcove of a tastefully built Japanese room I marvel at our comprehension of the secrets of shadows, our sensitive use of shadow and light…” (p.20: Leete’s Island Edition reprint).

      Liked by 2 people

      • “Every time I am shown to an old, dimly lit, and I would add, impeccably clean toilet in a Nara or Kyoto temple, I am impressed with the singular virtues of Japanese architecture.The parlor may have its charms, but the Japanese toilet is truly a place of spiritual repose… anyone with a taste for Japanese architecture must agree that the Japanese toilet is perfection” (p. 4 – 5).

        Though Tanizaki is writing this in 1933, I agree with him in that the temple toilets, separate from residential buildings in his time, were/are quiet, beautifully crafted, silent places where one could actually listen to the birds and the rain, some even included little discrete windows to peek out of. Tanizaki even says:

        “Here, I suspect, is where haiku poets over the ages have come by a great many of their ideas” (p. 4).

        Liked by 4 people

      • Holy crap, I was thinking it smacked so strongly of Tanizaki’s In Praise Of Shadows and I’ve been beaten to it 😂 but seriously, this poem captures the gist of it – and adds on a little bit more. It’s breath-takingly beautiful. I must re-read the whole book again.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. “He preferred candlelight for it did not obliterate darkness as did the electric lamps, but diminished it, allowing a room new life. Each crevice in the book shelves became a new world,” — Probably the most vivid and stirring thing I’ve read all week. Loved it…

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I can’t put into words how much this poem touched me. This line especially resonated. “His was not so much a desire for control as a means of learning, of observing and participating in processes not ordinarily viewed as such.” Thank you for bringing this beauty to my day.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I must Thank You for the enlightenment you have provided me with the knowledge of the Great Tanizaki. And the rhythm of you’re poetry is soothing emotionally.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. A fellow Texan weaves a painterly juxtaposition of vivid images in a similar juxtaposition of poetry and prose in a single piece!!! Haibun, new to this haiku poet, is something I’ll not attempt for now until I’ve sampled many more fine offerings such as yours here. Nice work, Robert, and thank you for dropping by my blog to browse my wares and to lay down some likes for me!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I am without words. Saying I love this is not enough, although it’s true. For now I’ll just say it’s about as close to perfection as I expect to see on this earth..

    Liked by 2 people

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