Line of Black poplar trees (Populus nigra) at sunset, Surfontaine, Picardy, France.

I subscribe to a poem-a-day e-mail.

You notice 2 things:

  1. how all the old poems have heft and musicality and flow, and are animated by an urgent necessity; and
  2. how all the new poems are the after-dinner punning posturings of bourgeois cruciverbalists, addicted to faculty japes and insecure complexity as compensation for the “dust in all their hearts“, as the Psychedelic Furs reminded us in 1982 (this is the slightly-slowed version):  

Whereas, the hardest thing you will ever do is to be coldly accurate, shorn of inherited cultural triteness, and neatness.

What words think you, for you?  How do you avoid being a cipher?  What is the word? 

Disgusted, I read, and re-read, all the old ones.  Like Hopkins:

Binsey Poplars
felled 1879

My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
All felled, felled, are all felled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank
Not spared, not one
That dandled a sandalled
Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.

O if we but knew what we do
When we delve or hew —
Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender
To touch, her being só slender,
That, like this sleek and seeing ball
But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean
To mend her we end her,
When we hew or delve:
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
Strokes of havoc únselve
The sweet especial scene,
Rural scene, a rural scene,
Sweet especial rural scene.

Or Basho:

In Kyoto,
hearing the cuckoo,
I long for Kyoto.

When Basho was writing this in Japan, 331 years ago, in 1690, our idiots were dusting each other at the Boyne. Theme is analogous to the German concept of “Sehnsucht” (roughly: <“objectless yearning”>). It probably is my favourite haiku.

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