Editors Choice – cherry blossoms

WHR Winter 2021 – 22

cherry blossoms…
if only they could heal
the moon after eclipse

Steliana Cristina Voicu

The Japanese have loved cherry blossoms since ancient times. No less fervently they have adored the moon. If you add the third thing they have had strong affection for, snow, you have setsu-getsu-ka, an expression often used to represent Japanese aesthetics. Naturally, these have become fond themes of haiku, along with so many other branches of arts and literature, among generations of haijin. Lo and behold, Steliana has managed to use two out of three of them in a single haiku to good effect.

According to strict Japanese haiku conventions, cherry blossoms are a spring kigo and the moon an autumn one, meaning they cannot be used in the same haiku. One is taught to use only one kigo per haiku anyway. So, is this a bad haiku? Not in the least.

Here, ‘cherry blossoms’ are the main kigo and the moon is either a secondary kigo (as the moon is there in all four seasons and the New Year, though seasons need to be clarified like ‘the spring moon’ if it is not autumn) or just a thing not meant to be kigo. Whatever they may be, it does not matter at all if one disregards Japanese haiku tradition.

What is important is the content and how it is expressed. In this haiku, the author has hit the jackpot. The way she talks about the cherry blossoms speaks volume about her affection for them and their ability to make her happy by its beauty and exuberance. Then she turns to an unexpected subject, the moon. Our attention also shifts to it as if it is the most important thing in the world.

The cherry blossoms give the feeling of fullness, roundness, richness and well-being. The sun has a similar effect, only something much stronger. The moon, by contrast, represents coolness, calmness, vicissitudes (wax and wane), silver as opposed to sun’s gold, shadow, and even sorrow and unhappiness. The moon does not have light of its own like the sun does but just reflection of the latter.

For the ancients the eclipse of the moon, especially the total one, must have looked extraordinarily foreboding and fearsome. So extraordinary that it begot all sorts of myths and superstitions. In everyday life, when the moon wanes people are just as conscious of what is lacking as of its visible reflected light because they did not know the science of this optical phenomenon (Nothing was missing as the lacking bit is just a shaded part of the moon). The waning moon gave them the feeling of things becoming weaker, smaller, less important or significant. This is one of the reasons why the full moon has been so much admired, praised and worshipped. Exactly the reverse was the case at the time of total eclipse.

Steliana’s love for the cherry blossoms are now transferred to her sympathy and empathy for the moon which she also loves. Eclipse has given her a sense of loss and a feeling of sorrow. Her feeling towards it is much like the compassion of mothers with their babies or of a nurse towards her patient. Taking the etymology, compassion means to ‘suffer together’. The eclipse is taken by her as the moon’s disease or injury which needs to be tended to for a recovery or heal. But she knows she herself cannot do anything to heal it. So, she reverts back to the cherry blossoms, wishing their fullness, wholesomeness, youthfulness and bursting life would do it for her. What an extraordinary but admirable sentiment this is!

Published by

Rohini Gupta

I am a writer of poetry, fiction and non fiction.

3 thoughts on “Editors Choice – cherry blossoms”

  1. Hello, I come to you because I had some problems with my computer and I can not know if I sent you the 10 Haiku that I had prepared for your winter contest 2021/22 I appreciate the high quality. Would it be possible for you to tell me if you received my haiku or not ? I thank you very much for your answer. Anne-Marie Joubert-Gaillard France

    Envoyé de mon iPhone



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