The following thoughts first appeared on the HaikuOz website in 2001, originally posted by John Bird.
It comes as no surprise that when Janice Bostok visited Bob Jones, they spent a morning talking about haiku. Bob raised the subject of “karumi” and explained that karumi is the mood of lightness which informs much of Basho’s late-life poetry and that few western poets seem to have engaged it in their haiku. Bob gave this example of Basho’s karumi:
so cool the wall against my feet a noonday nap~
When editing submissions to FAHA (First Australian Haiku Anthology), Janice Bostok and I noted a leaning towards profundity, and we thought Bob’s comments might provide counterpoise. With the permission of all concerned, I quote from a letter Bob subsequently sent to Janice, and in which Bob returns to his theme. ……….. John Bird.
“A couple of important issues were raised that we didn’t have enough time to explore. One of them concerned the mood of karumi, which has been a chief interest of mine over the years, particularly in relation to my own haiku. You asked for my understanding of it and I couldn’t easily come up with an explanation. I think most serious students of haiku have a hard time coming to terms with Basho’s later works. In many respects the poems seem bland and a little bit thin. Basho himself likens karumi to shallow water over a sandy bed, which certainly seems to go against any sense of mystery or depth. However I think the main thing to get from this likeness is the idea of transparency. Nothing’s hidden, or even hideable, in the mood of karumi. Everything’s out there, plainly shown. Everything’s part of the open secret. Continue reading “Karumi – Bob Jones on lightness in haiku”