John Daleiden, US ~ Choice Haiku Thread



"Two are better than one"

Ecclesiastes 4:9


Forty haijin from fourteen countries contributed  two hundred forty haiku to the "wedding / bride" Haiku Thread. In these verses haijin celebrate the ceremony of marriage in which two people are united in a common bond. The haiku in this "wedding / bride Thread mention many aspects of the ceremony: an exchange of vows and wedding rings, symbolic items and flowers, special wedding garments, a public proclamation by an authority figure or leader, the parents of the couple, the special friends of the couple included in the ceremony as well as witnessing friends and relatives, music, prayers, readings and traditions. A diversity of attitudes toward marriage are reflected in the Haiku Thread. A surprising number of the haiku mention oddities that sometimes occur during wedding ceremonies in addition to the negative aspects of marriage; however, the main focus and tone of the Haiku Thread is one of joyful celebration.

The haijin who contribute to the Threads in each issue continue to create English haiku verses that follow exemplary practices demonstrating these features:

  • haiku written using fragment and phrase construction (see Jane Richold's fragment and phrase theory)

  • the inclusion of both written and unwritten kireji

  • effective juxtaposition of appropriate images

  • verses containing no more than 575 syllables, and most frequently more minimal in structure (an appropriate structure for English haiku); in Japanese sound units were counted and clearly linguists have told us that sound units do not equal the longer sound of English syllables (between 17 - 12 English syllables)

  • the use of seasonal kigo and / or a tight focus on the announced Thread topic

  • the occasional use of the 2nd line as a pivot

  • written in the present tense so the reader has the feeling that the observed event is happening right now

  • use verbs that carry an emotional impact; a minimal use of the gerund form

  • contain some element of nature (the natural world elementsas opposed to an exclusive focus on the humanity element)

  • result in an aha moment for the reader

The following haiku present the "wedding / bride" theme well and demonstrate the best qualities of haiku composition.

smiling she says,
"two are better than one—"
here comes the bride

# 239. John Daleiden, US
Ecclesiastes 4:9

The decision to wed is momentous; in this haiku the bride shows her commitment to the institution of marriage with the line of verse from Ecclesiastes and with that thought firmly in mind the ceremony commences. The Biblical quotation of the two line phrase that opens the haiku ends with a full stop kirejian em-dash; it is set in juxtaposition with the 3rd line fragment, a direct reference to Richard Wagner’s Bridal Chorus (dum-dum-de-dum…) from the opera, Lohengrin.  ...and the wedding ceremony is under way...

A number of excellent haiku in this thread are written from the bride's perspective; these verses reflect a range of different emotions of a bride on her wedding day:

thin mist
through the white veil
she says "I do"

# 06. Tracy Davidson, UK

"Mist" in the line one fragment is a spring kigo denoting when the wedding is taking place. This image is juxtaposed with the image "white veil" in the line two and three phrase.  Just as the wedding veil is "white", so too is the "mist".  Imagine the bride's somewhat anxious moments when she says, "I do" affirmative agreement to forge ahead into the future unknown moments of life.  Both the "bridal veil" and the "mist" stand between her and the future, the unknown elements of life. The emotional moment of future uncertainty captured is breath taking.  ...but then who in their right mind wants to know the future before it happens?  ...certainly not I!

a bride's prayer
God give me the grace
to always trust him

# 34. Sandra Martyres, IN

A little self-doubt and close self-examination is probably good for the psyche of every individual. The line one fragment reveals the bride in a private moment of prayer; the line two through three phrase reveals her request for God's grace "to always trust him".  The initial implication is that "him" refers to her new partner, the groom on this, her wedding day.  Yet, grammatically, the pronoun "him" refers directly back to the Noun "God" even though the pronoun is not capitalized. The dual reading / interpretation of "him" in this haiku suggests a range of emotions, including opposites, both doubt and trust. The ambiguity of "him" in the haiku leaves the reader of the haiku with an unresolved Aha moment.

cold feet
the bride regrets
her open-toed sandals

# 52. Tracy Davidson, UK

Thankfully, life is filled with a range of emotions. In Tracy Davidson's haiku above the line one fragment "cold feet" suggests just for a moment that the bride is having second thoughts about the wedding ceremony. But then we discover the haijin is being playful and perhaps humorous, having purposely miss-lead readers of the first line fragment, because in the line two and three phrase it is wearing "open-toed sandals" the bride is having "regrets" about and not her marriage. The whimsical Aha moment is perhaps more reader centered than bride centered.

Another whimsical moment is captured in Bouwe Brouwer's haiku:

wedding vows—
a mosquito
with my DNA

# 212. Bouwe Brouwer, NL

The fragment in line one of this haiku sets the scene during the saying of "wedding vows";  the line two and three phrase provides a moment of levity when readers discover that a busy mosquito has satisfied its appetite for blood, having bitten someone. Readers do not know if it is the bride, the groom, or a wedding guest who has been attacked by the pesky predator. The haiku subtly reminds readers that even in the moments of solemnity and joy there is also often a moment of slight pain and or discomfort.

At weddings the unexpected event is often the rule rather than the exception. The world is after all perverse and it is only the naive who expect everything to go according to man's perfect plan. Picture this usually unwanted guest:

church music
around her bouquet
a bee hums

# 202. Marion Clarke, Ireland

Marion's haiku captures both a delight and a fright through the use of an unexpected juxtaposition of two images—the church music and the bee.!  Notice how the line two pivot brings these two unlikely entities together.

The emotions of a bride's pride, self-satisfaction, and wholesome well being are suggested in Cara Holman's haiku.

golden rings
I try on
my new name

# 88. Cara Holman, US

The line one fragment focuses on the "golden rings", affirmative symbols of the marriage.  The ring symbols are juxtaposed with the line two and three phrase"I try on / my new name".  In placing the physical and symbolic "golden rings" on her fingers she is also assuming the abstraction of her "new name". The images of "gold" and "new" are assertively positive and those images in turn suggest positive emotive feelingspride, self-satisfaction, and wholesome well being.

Imagine the agitation and consternation of this bride who has arrived at the wedding site only to discover the preacher is absent.  What will happen?  ...and then suddenly he arrives...

the preacher
mumbles, "...Held up in traffic"—
the bride's relieved sigh...

# 126. John Daleiden, US

The absence of the preacher just prior to the wedding event is marked with the bride's agitation and anxiety, and then, late, he arrives uttering his excuse; both the bride's and the preacher's emotions are expressed in the opening two line phrase which is juxtaposed with the fragment "relieved sigh".  The juxtaposition of the two elements results in a revealed Aha moment.

Some haiku in this thread portray the "wedding" event from a distance perspective and convey interesting third party view points.

bride’s train
dancing in the wind
billowing clouds

# 166. Bernard Gieske, US

This unique haiku uses the second line as a pivot; both lines one and two can be read as a phrase, but both lines two and three can also be read as a phrase.  In both situations that makes line one and line three a fragment. The image of "dancing" in line two can be effectively associated with the image of a "bride's train" in line one as well as with "billowing clouds" in line three.  This haiku depicting a bride's wedding day offers readers a dynamic haiku of movement and motion.

The dynamic of sound heard up close and also at a distance gives this haiku a strong presence in the thread:

the sound of church bells
'till death do us part...

# 145. Vladimir Ludvig, CR

The line one and two phrase of "church bells" ringing in recognition of the wedding makes it possible for listeners in distance places about town to receive acknowledgment of the religious rite being performed. On a closer and more intimate scale the wedding vow phrase uttered by the preacher and repeated by the couple in the ceremony, "'till death do us part..." is a second audio stimulus. Together, the two sound bites are both memorable and hopefully, "unforgettable". Only the test of time will tell if the marriage vows repeated by the couple will remain for their lifetime, "unforgettable"-- a taunting question.

Another perspective offered in the thread is a view of the male wedding guests:

summer wedding
men in straw fedoras gossip
under the trees

# 197. Angie Werren, US

The line one fragment sets the scene for a summer wedding; the line two and three phrase provides viewers with a view of men in their "straw fedoras" "gossiping under the trees. Readers do not know whether the scene takes place before or after the marriage; we only see them captured in a time snapshot wearing their summer hats and conversing under the trees—truly, a memorable Norman Rockwell moment portrayed in words.

Another perspective made memorable in a haiku verse from the thread depicts the bride's dress; here the setting may very well be days prior to the wedding or even on the wedding day at the moment she first appears before guests:

gold threads of sun—
her white wedding dress
fit for a Goddess

# 17. Eftichia Kapardeli, GR (Greece)

Lines two and three describe the dress as "fit for a Goddess"—a hyperbole probably meant to extend to a description of the bride as well. In a similar manner, the dress is said to be "gold threads of sun", a reference to the material from which the dress is made, presumably a product of the environment. The images of "gold", "sun", and "white" are meant to express the abstraction of the Ideal.

The following enigmatic haiku raises many questions.

thirteen crows
on a telephone wire
garden wedding

# 01. Chen-ou Liu, CA

The line three fragment sets the wedding in a garden; the line one and two phrase provides the perspective of "thirteen crows / on a telephone wire". This descriptive phrase may be an intentional literary reference to Wallace Stevens' haiku like poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird". Or is it an accidental association of this reader?  ...And why the number "thirteen"...and why "crows"? As a number 13 has the ambigious quality of being considered both lucky and unlucky considering the belief and interpretation rendered. Equally mystifying is the presence of "crows" in the scene. "Crows" have been used as images to convey a multitude of meanings, often conflicting. Perhaps that is the very point—just as "thirteen" and "crows" are enigmatic so too is a wedding enigmatic.

A number of haiku in the thread present scenes that typically follow the church ceremony. The wedding reception provides an interesting wedding topic set forth in Bernard Gieske's line one fragment in the following haiku:

wedding reception
scent of lemon
with orange blossoms

# 152. Bernard Gieske, US

Line two and three introduce the scents of "lemon" and "orange blossoms".  It is these two scents centered in this haiku that make its appeal unusual and fitting to a wedding setting.

wedding cake
all its tiered faults
are covered in icing

# 03. Harvey Jenkins, CA

In Harvey Jenkins' verse the theme of the haiku, "wedding cake" is introduced in the line one fragment; the phrase in line two and line three reveals that the "tiered faults" of the cake are concealed with "icing". Does the obvious symbolism of the cake extend to the marriage?  Well...only time will tell

Imagine the consternation of this poor man who intends to give a prepared speech at his daughter's wedding reception:

father of the bride
he discovers the wrong speech
in his suit jacket

# 72. Harvey Jenkins, CA

Of course no wedding is complete without the obligatory photographers, doing their best to record everything for posterity.

a wedding photographer
placing ordinary folks
in their best light

# 150 Harvey Jenkins, CA

...and finally, after all is said and done, perhaps years down the road someone is still tinkering with that same wedding:

my wedding pictures
winter solstice

# 35. Chen-ou Liu, CA

Indeed, there are many interesting "wedding" haiku in the Thread. The above haiku have been selected for discussion because they appealed to me as unique remembrances of an auspicious event.









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