Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Monday, April 4, 2016

Selected Haiku: Butterflies and Shadows Haiku

wing over cherry petals --
shadows embracing

Editors' Choice Haiku, Berry Blue Haiku, June 2010

Editors' Comment: We love this haiku for so many reasons. First, we admire the use of “wing” as a verb, since the actual butterfly wing, a noun, and its shape are essential to the themes and imagery of the poem: the shape of the wing and its shadow and of the petal and its shadow are shown by the poet to be so similar, akin, as the shadows meet under the cherry tree in a sweet embrace. And, in the same way that the shadows match and embrace, so, too, the letters and sounds of the poem do in an aural and visual alliteration.

The relationship between things and their shadows becomes an interchangeable simile for letters and their sounds: the r's and s's in all three lines, and the ing's and long o's in lines two and three. Of course, the theme of the essential one-ness of all things is another layer in the poem, the plant and insect here shown by the poet as one in that fleeting moment in which their identities cannot be separated, in that moment when the two merge on the broad face of Spring's renewed earth.