Favourite Haiku by Matt Morden

A classical haiku

The world of dew
is the world of dew,
and yet and yet…

– Kobayashi Issa

One of the things that I enjoy most in haiku is the connection between human affairs and the impermanence of the world. At first glance, this poem is only naturally based, but knowing that the haiku was written following the death of Issa’s second daughter (who died young) adds a great poignancy. Presumably, Issa knew that all things are impermanent and pass in time, but his personal loss made this all to hard to bear. Non-attachment is much more difficult in theory than in practice and Issa’s haiku gets to the crux of this all too human affair.

A contemporary haiku

all day long
I feel its weight
the unworn necklace

– Roberta Beary

While classical Japanese haiku are embedded in the Buddhist tradition, in contemporary Western haiku I think it can be difficult to write about human affairs without over-emoting or saying more than needs to be said. Roberta Beary’s haiku demonstrates how it should be done, with the creation of a mood of regret through reference to an item that’s somewhere (and somehow) apart from the author. I think many people can associate with this sentiment, but to be able to boil it down into these three lines is fine craft indeed.

One of my haiku

washing away
the thunderstorm

– Matt Morden

While in Florida on a family holiday, I saw a noticeboard outside a restaurant where the writing was being washed away by a thundershower. The haiku is my attempt to reflect the transience that Issa found in his dew haiku (see above).

The special will be gone tomorrow and the thunderstorm will have passed. In the great scheme of things, neither is any more important than the other or than anything else. One of the reasons I write haiku is to watch things going on around me and to try to come back into the moment. I like to think that I was able to enjoy both aspects of this particular moment as they happened, without clinging on.

Editor’s note: Matt Morden is a Welsh haiku poet who lives in Carmarthenshire, Wales, where he works in local government. His most recent collection of haiku is Stumbles in Clover (Snapshot Press, 2007), the winner of a Haiku Society of America Merit Book Award. He was guest editor of Presence 49 (January 2014).