This is a brief explanation of how to read haiku and get more out of it. It teaches the reader and poet, both, to listen to what nature has to say and learn.
Writing haiku is a unique experience. While most all poets write to achieve rich and deep resonance (layers of meaning) in their poetry, the haiku poet spends his/her time witnessing nature's profundity and writing it in such a way that the wisdom of nature is passed on to the reader. It is the haijin's (haiku poet) belief, that the things of nature have a unique ability to collide or pair off in such a way that there is indeed a "voice of nature" imparting wisdom to the observer.
oh snail ...
you were there
Here we have an example of a rather simple observation, on the surface, of a snail that hasn't made much progress since the observer/poet saw it yesterday. In pondering that, the resonance of nature begins to speak. Notice that it implies the snail is slow and making little if any progress. How often have you seen that characteristic in humanity? How often have you seen that in your child or even in your self - where, though you've started a project, you have procrastinated in finishing it.
Other resonance is in the fact that the haijin, in order to see the snail again, must have been there again him/her self. In this case, it would reference habit. The haijin has a habit of walking down the same path or sidewalk and, frankly, so does the snail. Possibly the snail and the poet, both, had come and gone and now there again.
The wonderment continues. Haiku are known for containing resonance and layers of meaning. They are so complete in their report on nature, that nature herself can speak on many levels to the reader. That's resonance!
the winter moon
lost in the darkest cloud
jelly beans and kids!
What do you see in this haiku? What is nature telling us in this comparison of goings on?
For me, it's letting us know that even though a person is in the midst of life's winter and lost in a dark and unhappy moment, there remains things around that are happy and beautiful! Above every cloud is a blue sky! That's another way of looking at it, too. Nature is telling us here that we should not lose track of the good things while we are trying to solve some of the tougher things. Nature is reminding us of our kid within too. And telling us that when we hit a depression or frustration, to take time out and eat jelly beans!!! haha! To take time out for happiness!
"Even in the worst moments, there are bits of happiness around and about. Look for those and try to smile." (a quote of one of my writings)
a toddler balances
We all have to start somewhere. To be a great learner of things you don't know, you must have the perfect beginner's mind. It will take self understanding to know that you might teeter a bit a first and that it's a balancing act to pull it all off for awhile. Anything you start will go through that process. There are some things like this process that are just as they are; and the job of a beginner is to accept it, teeter, balance and succeed.
As a side note, a toddler represents humbleness as well. Being a constant beginner is a good mental attitude and one that leaves you open to learning and growing every moment of your magical life.
the moon and I
This little haiku and moment in nature may be suggesting to us to engage with nature. It is a revealing of how happy someone is when he/she is noticing that he/she is an integral part of nature ... togetherness. So often it is easy for folks to forget that they are not living on a planet, but rather, living with everything - and sharing with everything including the twinkling star. This haiku is revealing to us that we are not separate from anything and when we try to be, we lose harmony ... no longer riding the waves but possibly thrown aside.
Haiku is a fantastic genre of poetry for both readers and poets alike. They are quick to read but long to ponder. They contain layers and layers and meanings and resonance. This is what the haiku poet must achieve!
Enjoy writing them. Enjoy reading them. I hope I have given you deeper and greater insight as to how they work and what to look for in writing richer and more profound haiku.