Haiku Inspired by Dylan Thomas II

On the 61st anniversary of the poet’s death…

 Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) was a storied drinker. He was one of a long line of great writers who, on any given evening (or day, for that matter!), could be found in the “poet’s corner” of a neighborhood pub agonizing over word choice, or perhaps listening to the local gossip (that is, harvesting material).

So, in 1953 when Thomas went to New York and died suddenly at the age of 39, alcohol was the obvious culprit. Later physicians determined that pneumonia, not over drinking, was the cause of the poet’s untimely demise.

In my mind, Dylan Thomas is the Beat poet who never was. He was a part of the Greenwich Village poetry (and drinking) scene right around the time people like Allen Ginsberg exploded on the scene (who was in San Francisco at the time of Thomas’s death). Ginsberg’s legendary reading of “Howl” would take place just a few years after Thomas’ passing. Certainly other legendary Beats were already occupying The Village while Thomas was there (this was his 4th trip to the States, so presumably he had already forged ties with those whom he found himself with during those last weeks).

And then, the obvious connection with the Beats and The Village—Bob Dylan. It was in 1961, eight years after Thomas’ death, that Bob Dylan arrived on the Greenwich Village scene. Bob Dylan inherited a spirit of writing and composing in the Village that was planted by people like Dylan Thomas and subsequent Beats. Whether or not Bob Dylan really took his name from Dylan Thomas–who really knows. Certainly “borrowing” (and then re-telling) is a part of the writing tradition. I for one would think it would be pretty cool if it were true. And for a young Bob Dylan new to The Village, taking the name of a then relatively uncelebrated, unknown Welsh poet who “died from over drinking while just passing through” would seem harmless enough–so harmless perhaps no one would notice.

(the following are inpsired by “A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of of a Child in London”1)

Bird beast and flower

preparing for their slumber.

The sun sets earlier.

(at an Akita coffee shop, 2014.11.9)

*****

Enter again the

cold drafts blowing through my room.

Winter’s insistence.

(at an Akita coffee shop, 2014.11.9)

****

In silence the last

persimmon falls to the earth.

From fall comes winter.

(at an Akita coffee shop, 2014.11.9)

****

On my lips and tongue

the sweet taste of persimmon.

an autumn evening.

(at an Akita coffee shop, 2014.11.9)

****

The last leaf hanging

from a once lovely maple.

Beauty fades with youth.

(at an Akita coffee shop, 2014.11.9)

****

The last light breaking

over the cold churning sea.

First day of winter.

(at an Akita coffee shop, 2014.11.9)

****

Winter soon to come–

the the crum’ling decaying leaves

tell me with silence.

(at an Akita coffee shop, 2014.11.9)

****

With silence the last

branch is left bare of spring’s leaves.

November’s cold wind.

(at an Akita coffee shop, 2014.11.9)

1A poem “stolen from the headlines.” Sound familiar?!

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Haiku inspired by Dylan Thomas

October 27th is Dylan Thomas’s birthday. He would have been 100 years old. 100 years old is a little too old for most people. On the other hand though, DT died when he was only 39, which is way too young, for most people.

In many circles, the word ‘poetry’ or saying that you like to read poetry sounds kind of snobby, or maybe it sounds like you are a recluse or introvert. I think that poetry really is ‘the people’s entertainment’ though. It is not as inaccessible as people often think. You don’t need batteries for poetry, or need to worry about fiber optics. If anything, it is technology that is more of a social divider than poetry.

Any how, I was reading a lot of DT poems the week before the anniversary of his birthday. And I do mean ‘reading.’ I read them out loud, line by line, over and over again. Verbalizing the poems made me discover more intricacies within his lines. It made me question his word choice more often. It also helped me understand the respective poem’s rhythm more deeply; especially poems that tend to have more ‘drive’ behind them, rather than just sing-song rhymes. Oh–and I began to pay  more notice to his interesting use of punctuation, too.

Both Dylan Thomas’ word choice and punctuation usage are very relevant for those who wish to write haiku in English. This gave me the idea to use his poems as material for expressing my own feelings/ thoughts about this beautiful place and this beautiful time of year in which I found myself. I searched a few of DT’s poems for 5 & 7 syllable word strings, then used those strings to create poems, or haiku, of my own. It being autumn, the haiku I wrote have mostly autumn imagery.

Feel free to comment below, whether on DT or my wannabe haiku, and let’s start a discussion…

 

(from reading ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’…)

 

Autumn breezes blow

gentle into that good night

Friends, laughing, part ways.

(Akita, 10/25/2014)

 

Harvested rice fields–

shadows stretch at close of day.

sun slowly setting.

(Akita, 10/25/2014)

 

Red and yellow leaves

dance, dance in the autumn wind–

the end of the week.

(Akita, 10/25/2014)

 

Geese on their way south

because the seasons have changed.

Here, I’m far from home.

(Akita, 10/25/2014)

 

If time had stood still

our frail love may have lasted.

Turn, turn the seasons.

(Akita, 10/25/2014)

 

Flowers, in the end,

fade into earthly colors.

My friend’s wife gives birth!

(Akita, 10/25/2014)

 

Apart, our lives have grown.

The changing leaves remind me

how old I’ve become.

(Akita, 10/25/2014)

 

Persimmons, pumpkins–

burn orange in the fall sun.

My fleece keeps me warm.

(Akita, 10/25/2014)

 

Hanging persimmons

drying in the autumn breeze.

October harvest.

(Akita, 10/25/2014)

 

(from reading ‘And death shall have no dominion’…)

 

 

This autumn palette–

fields once wet and filled with rice,

now dry vacant.

(Taiheizan–Akita, 10/26/2014)

 

The moon in the sky

but a silvery crescent–

Fall in Akita.

(Taiheizan–Akita, 10/26/2014)

 

Mid October and

the fields are reaped clean.

Rice to fill our bowls.

(Taiheizan–Akita, 10/26/2014)

 

October’s brisk breeze–

Fruits and flowers withering,

they shall bloom again!

(Taiheizan–Akita, 10/26/2014)

 

No more do bees buzz.

No more do mosquitoes bite.

Autumnal respite.

(Taiheizan–Akita, 10/26/2014)

 

Noon in Tegata–

Children playing in the park,

Leaves crunch at their feet.

(Taiheizan–Akita, 10/26/2014)

 

‘Til the sun sinks low

we enjoy this autumn day.

Hiking Mt. Taihei.

(Taiheizan–Akita, 10/26/2014)

 

After the harvest

fields are empty, we are not.

Blessing of the land.

(Taiheizan–Akita, 10/26/2014)

 

Walking home at night.

Geese honking loud above me.

Winter’s on its way.

(Tegata–Akita, 10/26/2014)

 

Maples, elms, spruce, oak

lose their leaves to the fall wind.

Stroll through Tegata.

(Tegata–Akita, 10/26/2014)

 

(from reading ‘Clown in the moon’…)

 

Like the quiet drift

of summer into autumn,

another birthday.

(Aqula–Akita, 10/27/2014)

 

Sad and beautiful–

verdant forests turn red, brown.

Drive through Akita.

(Aqula–Akita, 10/27/2014)

 

So tremulously

leaves quiver on dry branches.

A warm wind picks up.

(Aqula–Akita, 10/27/2014)

 

My graying brown hair.

Autumn evenings spent with you

are so like a dream.

(Aqula–Akita, 10/27/2014)

 

Hearing of your news,

so sad and beautiful.

seasons turn and turn.

(Aqula–Akita, 10/27/2014)