shirakaba o kasuka ni kiri no yuku oto ka
through the white birches
faintly ... the moving mist
Hiryoshi Tagawa (1914-1999): Translated and commented on by Dhugal J. Lindsay
Alliteration, consonance and assonance are used to great effect in this haiku to construct a sense of fantasy. The white trunks of the birches appear and disappear in the whiteness of the mist, only faintly discernable even only a short distance away. Right up until the last three mora (syllables in Japanese) we imagine that the word "faintly" must be referring to visual cues but our expectations are turned on their head by the sudden appearance of "noise".
Selected, translated and commented on by Dhugal J. Lindsay