Of poetry and persimmons

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 17 Apr 2018 14:29:17


By Vijay Phanshikar,

Consider me
as one who loved poetry
and persimmons.

- A haiku by Masaoka Shiki

POETRY! Persimmons!!
What a connection?! How can those be compared?!
Does not seem to make sense! -- I must say.
Yet, this haiku asserts:
Consider me
as one who loved poetry
and persimmons.

Think deeply, dear, and you would realise the connect.
There is a deep connect -- though indirectly.
Let us think of poetry, first. Let us understand what poetry is. Let us delve deeper into what we know as poetry. This little exercise will lead to a very fine difference between two words -- poetry - and poem.
Poetry is thought.
Poem is form.

When thought assumes a poetic expression, then a poem may be born. And in many cases, there may be poetry without a poem as well -- as in mother’s eyes oozing with love for her little one. Where is the form -- of a poem? But there is a tremendous poetry in those two wonderful
eyes full of wonderment about how a life is born and how it blossoms!

This is how poetry always blooms in the hearts, and finds expression somewhere -- in a poem or in anything else. If beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, poetry, too, is in the heart of the sensible and sensitive. A sensible heart does not look for poem the form; it searches for expression even without words, without form. Sensing poetry, thus, is a very fine, very subtle, very silent exercise.

Reading poems is physical, so to say, at least to begin with. When one gets fully bathed in the words, the meaning starts appearing on the mind’s screen. Some poems are very simple -- too simple. Some poems are too hard, too
complex, too difficult to be understood at first reading. But when one reads the words and allows them to seep into one’s being, into one’s heart, into one’s consciousness, the meaning starts making sense. Then it is pure joy --
with unfolding of meaning, with flowering of interpretation.

It is at this stage, one may say, the poem starts becoming poetry. In other words, it starts ripening, getting thoroughly ripe -- in one’s thought.
Let’s turn to persimmons, now.
Persimmon is a fruit, so to say. It is very sour, astringent when green, so much so that elders advise us not to try eating it. “You will die from its sourness. It is never to be
eaten like this”, a granny told one of her grand-daughters, when the little one tried to scalp a green persimmon.
But the same persimmon takes time to ripen, to get thoroughly ripe. And then it assumes a very sweet taste and is very much to be eaten, cherished, and discussed about.

So, the poet says here:
Consider me as one who loved poetry and persimmons.
Now, the connect gets clear -- between
poetry and persimmons.
Poetry! Persimmon!
Both are just green to begin with, rather
unintelligible, difficult for normal perception, normal consumption.

So, to understand a ripening poetry -- or a poem -- or a persimmon takes time. The thing has to ripen in one’s comprehension, for one’s consumption. And then both are sweet, wonderfully sweet.
What a connect!