D’s Poetry : Haiku 3 : Haiku & Imagery

D’s Poetry is a living archive of all poetry penned by me, Divvya Nirula. Join me on this journey today as we explore how words evoke strong imagery through Haiku.

“With folded hands near,
The songs of the heart are clear,
Death transcends all here.”

Divvya Nirula

Haiku & Imagery

It is true that most poetry conjures up an image in the mind of the reader. When you read the words – aloud or in your mind – you think of what the poet means. Consider what she might have been thinking, seeing, feeling when she penned her work.

Well, you might find it interesting that traditional Haiku poetry is used to evoke imagery as well. Japan’s natural landscapes are breathtakingly beautiful. Just ask anyone who has travelled to Japan. Or ever laid eyes on a traditional Japanese landscape painting. The way the light hits this Land of the Rising Sun. The cherry blossoms and thick coniferous forests. The Shinano river and Mount Fuji. Artists and writers the world over have tried to capture her beauty through art, poetry and literature. Haiku, being a form of traditional Japanese poetry, does the same. Consider this verse by Haiku master Matsuo Bashō :

An old silent pond
A frog jumps into the pond—
Splash! Silence again.

Old Pond by Matsuo Bashō (translated by unknown)

When I read the poem, I can see the imagery. I witness quiet blueness of the pond. I spot the mischievous green frog with brown freckles, just as he’s about to leap into the water. Creating ripples that travel wide. And then quickly, the stillness returns. As if nothing had happened. Such is the power of the Haiku! This form of poetry is most often used to express feelings associated with particular seasons, scenes in nature and even life lessons.

My First Encounter with Bushidō

The first time I realised the connection between Haiku and nature was in my college dorm room. My Japanese friend had a beautiful scroll hung on her wall – a Japanese watercolour. And it had alongside it a Haiku written in Japanese. Of course, till today I don’t know what the text said – I do not read or speak much Japanese. But, I remember admiring the imagery every time I visited her. A mountain with a bird perched atop it, stood tall against a crimson sunset.

Years later, I discovered the scroll was representative of the Bushidō tradition. Bushidō was the moral code of honour and conduct that ancient Japanese samurai would follow. The samurai class were held to a very high standard in every day life. And so, as an outlet to express themselves, they would often paint and write Haiku. This was a deeply private and personal practice for them.

Till today, I am in complete awe of these rich traditions, that watercolour painting, the Japanese landscape and Haiku.

You are invited along on this journey of discovery and writing. For more poetry and verse by Divvya Nirula, please visit the archive for D’s Poetry.