Entry: MORNING FOG Saturday, June 30, 2007



An autumn verse by Buson:

Morning fog:
The sound of pounding a stake --
Pum! Pum!

Use of words that sound like a sound itself -- technically called onomatopoeia -- is often found in old hokku.  Though put into English, if you read this verse you will hear the striking of the stake in lines two and three -- sound! pounding! stake! Pum! Pum!

It is if anything even more effective in English than in the original language.

We are not told who is pounding the stake or why.  We know it is not the writer, because the morning fog is included to hide the person pounding.  All we have is the cool, dense fog of morning, and from somewhere in the fog we hear the Pum! Pum! of a mallet against a stake.

That is the whole point of the verse -- the sudden sound emerging out of the fog that hides the action -- the hardness of the sound against the softness of the fog.

 

Copyright 2007
David Coomler

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