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Haiku Classic: May 22, 2022

omote-yori ura hayaku taki ochi-ni keri


    the part for all to see

    not plummeting as fast

    as the waterfall's innards


    Kika Hotta (1975- ). From "Jinrui-no gogo" (Afternoon of Humankind), Yuushorin, Hyogo, Japan, 2021.

    A strict transliteration of this haiku might be more like: "its surface not / as speedily as its hidden side / the waterfall falls." The observation of the poet is backed up by the physics of motion vectors. The water at the surface both has a longer distance to fall vertically and the spray will also be met with more wind resistance as it shoots out horizontally before crashing into the waterfall's pool. The words used to describe this concrete observation have a deeper psychological meaning -- "on the surface," "hidden side" and "falls/fallen," thereby niggling at the reader's psyche as well as presenting an image. The kanji character used for "quickly/speedily" in the original Japanese haiku is one not often employed and carries with it the nuance of great force in addition to speed.

    (Selected, translated and commented on by Dhugal J. Lindsay)



    Pique your poetic interest with more Haiku in English here.

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