A Timeless Burden

Commenting on a haiku by Réka Nyitrai, published on Luca’s Lily Pad #16 (myhaikupond.com) on March 4, 2019.

they too
are gaining weight…
ice covered trees

This haiku by Réka Nyitrai is a valuable and highly evocative piece of work set in a winter environment (fuyu 冬) that appears to be desolate (kareta 枯れた) and melancholic (according to the aesthetics of wabi-sabi 侘寂), revealing instead an strong connection between the author and the surrounding nature.

In fact, while the ‘icy trees’ in line 2 –deprived of their foliage– do not really change their real weight, the poet seems to feel an intimate burden that keeps growing and reverberating its effects outside her physical sphere. This is made particularly clear by the presence of the ‘too’ adverb (mo も) in the first line, which serves as a pivoting word in the overall economy of the poem.

The ellipsis used as a marking cut (kireji 切れ字) gives an effective sense of suspension and continuity (yoin 余韻), binding the two parts both syntactically and emotionally, while the alliteration of ‘g’ sound (a ‘soft’ consonant) in the second line clashes with the hard ‘c’ sound in the third one, emphasizing the contrast between the undefined breadth (futoi 太い) of this ongoing growth and the geometric thinness (hosomi 細身) of the ice.

The poem therefore represents a process of intimate and personal awareness, as well as a vehicle for sharing feelings that would be difficult to express otherwise (emoiwazu えも言はず), marking an empathy between man and nature that works in both directions and that dissolves into an unfathomable and sacred silence (the winter landscape portrayed by the author).

Picture: Utagawa Hiroshige II, Kanda Temple (1861)

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