Sunday, December 11, 2016

The large and the small of things …

I am not suggesting that this quality of immediacy is unique to Chinese poetry. It is found in many good English poems. ("Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," "Lying Awake" (Thomas Hardy), and "Loveliest of trees, the cherry now" come immediately to mind, but there are hundreds of others.) And immediacy is arguably the defining feature of haiku: existence and the World embodied in a singular image -- a 17-syllable moment of enlightenment rendered in the present tense. Still, there is a certain serene matter-of-factness underlaid with deep emotion in Chinese poetry that, for me at least, sets it apart from all other forms of verse.

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