When I look carefully, I see the nazunia blooming by the hedge! Kana… I am amazed. I am dumb. I cannot say anything about its beauty – I can only hint at it.
A haiku simply hints. The poetry describes, the haiku only indicates – and in a very indirect way.
A similar situation is found in Tennyson’s famous poetry; comparing the two will be of great help to you. Basho represents the intuitive, Tennyson the intellectual. Basho represents the East, Tennyson the West. Basho represents meditation, Tennyson mind. They look similar, and sometimes the poetry of Tennyson may look more poetic than Basho’s because it is direct, it is obvious.
Flower in the crannied wall
I pluck you out of the crannies
hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
little flower – but if I could understand
what you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.
A beautiful piece, but nothing compared to Basho. Let us see where Tennyson becomes totally different. First: Flower in the crannied wall I pluck you out of the crannies…
Basho simply looks at the flower, he does not pluck it out. Basho is a passive awareness: Tennyson is active, violent. In fact, if you have really been impressed by the flower, you cannot pluck it. If the flower has reached your heart, how can you pluck it? Plucking it means destroying it, killing it – it is murder! Nobody has thought about Tennyson’s poetry as murder – but it is murder. How can you destroy something so beautiful? But that’s how our mind functions; it is destructive. It wants to possess, and possession is possible only through destruction.
Remember, whenever you possess something or somebody, you destroy something or somebody. You possess the woman? – you destroy her, her beauty, her soul. You possess the man? – he is no longer a human being; you have reduced him to an object, into a commodity.
Basho looks carefully, just looks, not even gazes concentratedly; just a look, soft, feminine, as if afraid to hurt the nazunia.
Tennyson plucks it out of the crannies and says: …I hold you here, root and all, in my hand, little flower… He remains separate. The observer and the observed are nowhere melting, merging, meeting. It is not a love affair. Tennyson attacks the flower, plucks it out, root and all, holds it in his hand. Mind always feels good whenever it can possess, control, hold. A meditative state of consciousness is not interested in possessing, in holding, because all those are the ways of the violent mind.
And he says, “little flower.” The flower remains little, he remains on a high pedestal. He is a man, a great intellectual, a great poet. He remains in his ego: “little flower.”