(M.J.E. / Writings / Haiku / 3 / Notes)

Notes on the Verses (14 - 18)

            Weighed down by heaviness,
            I long for the moonlit, pearly clouds overhead;
                Spirit itself calls me in vain.

      This one is a bit less haiku-like, and perhaps a bit melodramatic; I think haiku are really meant to be a bit more detached, and traditionally they simply observe something, and don't judge it emotionally. But that's the way it came to me.
      The moonlit sky I saw which suggested this verse was truly magical - one of the most wonderful skies I have ever seen. I was at my mother's place in very ordinary suburban Box Hill North; but this was the kind of moonlit sky that can make even an everyday place like that seem imbued with a special magic, a deep, wonderful meaning of some sort.
      I would dearly have loved to write something inspiring about this scene - something which would convey the sense of Spirit that such scenes of beauty often suggest to me, the sense of ineffable and unidentifiable longing that they often evoke in me. But I was actually in the depths of a depressive episode at the time, and I just couldn't think of anything of that sort, so I decided to write the verse anyway and use that feeling. Thus the verse at least features the contrast between the wonderful scene I was witnessing which at another time would have almost seemed to embody everything I wanted in life, seemed to somehow convey what life itself meant, and the actual emotions I was feeling, which were ones of complete hopelessness and of a complete separation from what that essence of life would presumably be.

15, 16, 17.
            Summer twilight:
                droning cicadas, the new moon -
                and Venus, too; it's been so long.

            Again - cicadas, the moon, Venus:
            a little different now.
                All things change - even truth, even Spirit.

            Again, the moon higher, Venus brighter;
                the cycles of life go on,
                but all will be fulfilled.

      These three verses form an obvious series, and were conceived on 3 successive evenings at the same time (about 9.30 p.m. on 22 to 24 December, 1999), and written down soon after on each evening. In all cases I saw this scene in the same place: on the other side of a local take-away food place a mile or so from my house - the same one referred to in verse no. 7 about the change of weather blowing up and the last cicada.
      On all three evenings the sky was perfectly clear and cloudless, and the conditions virtually identical: warm, still, with cicadas droning loudly. And yet the new moon was slightly higher in the sky on each successive occasion, and I fancied Venus was slightly brighter, although this latter point may be more dubious, since its change in position in the sky relative to the sun would have been far less than in the case of the moon - but that was my perception, anyway. This brought to mind the idea of things remaining the same on one level, and yet the cycles of life (movements of heavenly bodies) causing gradual changes. This seemed to suggest an emotional response wherein these conditions seemed to be an allegory for the nature of life itself and our overall spiritual journey. It suggested the idea that on some levels things are constantly changing, but on other levels things are always the same, depending on the perspective from which you consider it.
      These feelings seemed to grow on each of the successive evenings, and themselves subtly changed, and I wrote all three verses with surprising ease. The fact that there are three of them, and that 3 is sometimes regarded as a mystical or spiritual or magic number (for instance, the Trinity (a notion not confined to Christianity), and also the magical concept of things happening in threes), seems to add an extra resonance to these verses, as well as the fact that they came on successive evenings, at almost exactly the same time.
      Another thought that was playing in my mind, and which influenced the verses, was the following:
      Some spiritual views of life are based on the idea of cycles: the cycles implicit in reincarnation, Theosophy, New-Age views, and so on, where all sorts of symbolism are seen in the seasonal cycles of life. In some cases, the whole complex progress of life and its evolution is very intimately bound up with the summed effects of many different cycles of different lengths going in and out of phase with each other. Astrology is one manifestation of this view about the importance of natural cycles - in this case, the movements of heavenly bodies seen as affecting human existence.
      But some other spiritual paths seem to emphasize a non-cyclical view of life: for instance, Christianity as commonly understood postulates one earthly life only, a judgement and a final destination. Perhaps it doesn't deny the effects of cycles, but attributes less fundamental importance to them.
      The cyclical views of life regard creation as a continuous process subject to cycles, whereas Christianity regards creation as a singularity: a particular event which took place at a particular time, once only, and which is now complete for ever more.
      And of course the life of Jesus and the purpose of this as seen by Christians is another singularity which is of central importance to the Christian outlook. Christianity is emphatic in its view that the life of Jesus was a once-only event which was to be good for all time; whereas there are more cyclically-oriented spiritual views that regard Jesus as one of a series of teachers or avatars who come to earth periodically - another recurring, cyclical event.
      I am probably more inclined to the cyclical, New-Age type of view myself, although I don't fully adhere to this, and I do have some notion of the Christian idea of life progressing towards a final destination, a final fulfilment. (I differ from Christianity though where it regards some people's final destination as one of lostness, or hell as it is sometimes called, and tend towards the view that everyone ultimately reaches God, or Spirit, or whatever you want to call it.)
      I fancy that this conflict in viewpoint between the cyclical and the singular influenced the way I wrote these verses. And this reflects the fact that my own spiritual outlook embraces something of both these seemingly conflicting viewpoints, and I do not even pretend I can resolve this. But, on some meta-level, I fancy that such conflicts perhaps can be reconciled, and seen merely to be different perspectives from which one can view the essence of life and of Spirit, although I don't pretend to be able to imagine how those views can be reconciled with each other.
      All these thoughts were in my mind as I conceived these verses, although I can't be sure whether the verses suggested these thoughts to me or whether the thoughts suggested the verses. I think the two simply co-evolved in my mind on those three evenings, and gave feedback to each other.
      If you are interested in reading more about the ideas which have given rise to some of my haiku verses, please go here for more information.

            Rising in deep blue morning:
                Venus and the last sliver of moon -
                Seen in reverse this time.

      About 10 months after I wrote the previous trilogy of verses, I saw this scene driving home from buying a snack before going to bed (very late in the night, as is my wont). The situation somehow seemed the reverse of the situation described in the previous trilogy (crescent moon and Venus rising instead of setting; morning instead of evening), and this is what I had in mind as I wrote this afterthought to the trilogy above. The verse doesn't seem as interesting, but I felt it worth writing down because of the observation about the reverse nature of the scene.

Michael Edwards,
Victoria, Australia.

E-mail me about these verses.

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Original text copyright (C) 1998, 1999 (verses), 2000, 2001 (notes), by Michael Edwards.

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This page created on Monday, 24 April, 2000;
last modified on Saturday, 6 April, 2002.