moonless night
depths of darkness
lapping the pier

Gavin Austin


Artists often find ways to celebrate light, but here I am led (once again) to relish darkness.  There is a certain softness and mystery to the night, a beauty not found in the light of day.  Nor does the beauty of darkness simply reside in its rendering the light more prominent, for this is a moonless night and the darkness here complete. Though we might imagine tiny points of starlight riding the incoming swell, swirling around the pylons, there is no hint of this and I get a sense that darkness itself is the central subject.  This haiku seems to me to be highly suggestive of the unconscious mind descending into unfathomable regions and into primordial beginnings, before there was light.  I am reminded of the words from Genesis:

and darkness hovered over the deep

And what, i wonder, is the deeper appeal of motion; of ripples, waves, swaying branches and flowing streams that we continually find surfacing in poetry and in this instance, in the depths of darkness lapping the pier. The pier too is a recurrent motif in art which carries symbolic significance; that which leads us from terra firma out into the sea, out into the deep . . .

As good haiku often do, its richness and suggestion lay unspoken in the simple observation of an ordinary scene, its depths come to us slowly, revealed in the quiet time after reading, gradually, like water lapping at the pier.

A Hundred Gourds 3:4 September 2014

Selection & comments by Simon Hanson

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