at the centre of things
an orb weaver
At one level this haiku stands as a beautifully stated observation one might make in the garden on a day of good fortune, an occasion, as the poet tells me to share one of nature’s wonders with her grand-daughter. We might well leave it at that and enjoy the haiku on the level of a delightful natural observation. However this haiku has, it seems to me, an unmistakable archetypal quality akin to a creation story.
The first line announces ‘a beginning’, the dawn of a new day and by this interpretation, the dawn of time; in the beginning . . . and so the myth unfolds, at the centre of things . . . The word, centre is effective here in suggesting the source of creation lies ‘within’- while the word things, with its universal reference could be understood as all things (though is better written as the author has it here). In the beginning, within the centre of all things, lies the source, the giver of life, the maker, the orb weaver, spinning her web, catching the sun, protecting her egg. The first and third lines, pivoting on the middle line as they do, give rise to an ambiguity as to what lies at the centre and may even suggest an identification of the sun and the spider adding to the sense of mystery. The imagery of radiance (in the geometry of the web and in being illuminated by sunlight) is especially effective here.
Many creation myths from around the world, including those of Indigenous Australia feature the sun or as is the case for example in Judeo-Christian mythology, the light. Without having any firsthand knowledge of indigenous ideas and beliefs and having no authority to speak of them I am struck none the less by the resemblance of this haiku to the subject and tone of many of these stories.
A haiku with great visual appeal and spiritual depth.
First published: A Hundred Gourds 5:1 December 2015
Selection & comments by Simon Hanson