06 November 2012

Haiku 2012/311

rising and falling
waves slap against the shoreline
changing it each time


repeating waves slap
against the shoreline changing
it a bit each time

variations on a theme - I wonder if anyone has a preference between the two, and if so why?


Sibyl said...

I like the first one better. I like the way, "rising and falling" evokes the sound of waves, starting things off with an aural underpinning, the sibilant and the open vowels; couple that with how it scans, also rising and falling: stressed, unstressed unstressed, stressed, unstressed. The other first line's unstressed, stressed, unstressed unstressed, stressed pattern is also a wave, but the actual words are less wave-like, with the plosives and the hard "t", so that multi-layer resonance is lost. "Repeating waves" also is a bit more intellectual than sensual, almost more telling than showing. Then the
second line of the first poem, with all those sea-evoking sibilants, continues the underpinning of the words with sensual effects. There is the dual meaning of the rising and falling waves (the waves are both doing the rising and falling and being described as rising and falling, both acting and being observed) which adds depth to the lines, where "repeating waves" evokes only the one impression. I also like that the thought units in the first are not interrupted by line breaks, so they can be read in a way that resolves the conflict with where the eye wants to take a pause. I know not to take a pause at the end of a line, but boy does my eye want me to. I also think "changing it each time" is a more powerful statement than "changing/it a bit each time." The "a bit" is a diminution I'd just as soon do without.

I typed this on my stupid iPad virtual keyboard, which my little Luddite heart loathes cordially, so bear with me if I have more than my usual load o'typos.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Thank you once again for an interesting and thoughtful comment. On the whole I agree with you and prefer the first one, but part of me was fighting against the sense that the first one was too, for lack of a better word, "pretty" -- maybe too orderly? The second one roughs up the sound and the line breaks. The diminution of "a bit" is maybe too explicit but also closer to what I hoped to convey, though I also hoped it was implicit in "changing it each time" that the change was small, incremental, and repeated over time (hence also the use of "repeating" for the waves in the second version -- again, something I hoped was implicit in the first version but which I decided to spell out).

Usually the rougher version comes first, but this time, as I said, I just felt I should wrench it around, uh, a bit.

I have the feeling that a virtual keyboard and resulting typos would drive me nuts. This is one of the technology things I have been pondering lately.

Sibyl said...

Caught me: I am a total sucker for the sensual effect, the too-pretty. Despite having proposed a dissertation on Matthew Arnold (I love an insecure second-rater capable of flashes of lightning), when I actually read poetry on purpose (grad school burned me out, and I almost cannot bear to), I go for sensual beauty on the ear instead of the rigorous or challenging. Lazy me. It was wild trying to write analytically about poetry, fully 21 years after huffily abandoning the PhD. Nice to discover I can still scan if I need to (I was the only one in my cohort even to attempt to discuss prosody. I wonder if that's still out of fashion in academia?), but sad that I would have to unearth my copy of Fussell if forced to NAME the meter. Sigh.

Oh the evil, evil virtual keyboard. I'm a foul enough typist when I can feel the edges of physical keys. Little spaces on a screen are simply painful.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

There was no attempt at entrapment! I was just curious if anyone had any thoughts on the two versions, and if so whether or not they would coincide with mine. I was especially interested in your scansion analysis, since for these I just count syllables but of course there is an underlying effect from how those syllables scan.

So do you love Spenser?

Unknown said...

I like the first one better because it doesn't have the word "repeating." Because of that, the importance of each individual wave (and each one is different) in shaping the Earth stands out in the first one. It is a perfect haiku for this close election day, whether you intended the metaphor or not.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

It was meant to be implicit in both versions that the waves repeat: the individual waves are minor and their effects barely perceptible (these are standard waves, not tsunamis); it's the cumulative impact of tiny repeated actions by a vast anonymous number that eventually brings change. If it were possible to remove a single wave, it would make a difference, but not a noticeable one. If this is coming from anything in my environment this week it's re-reading George Eliot, not the election, so though I'm glad you found that possibility in it, an election allegory was not consciously intended, though now that I write this out I can see the connection, so thanks for bringing it up.