Ekphrastics via Gabriel Rosenstock

Bill Wolak, Gabriel Rosenstock - The Culturium
Gabriel Rosenstock – living Bard

The following extracts are from: https://www.theculturium.com/gabriel-rosenstock-to-thine-own-self-be-true/ . He is the author of Haiku Enlightenment which am very much enjoying.

PM: FOR YOU, GABRIEL, what does it mean to be a poet?

Gabriel Rosenstock: As a poet-translator, I take great delight in transcreating poetry from around the world into Irish (using English as a bridge language much of the time) and one such poet, who writes in Malayalam, is K. Satchidanandan. He answers your question beautifully:

My mother taught me to talk to crows and trees; from my pious father I learnt to communicate with gods and spirits. My insane grandmother taught me to create a parallel world to escape the vile ordinariness of the tiresomely humdrum everyday world; the dead taught me to be one with the soil; the wind taught me to move and shake without ever being seen and the rain trained my voice in a thousand modulations. My beautiful village with its poor people too must have hurt me into poetry …

What it means to be a poet is to give oneself, freely, constantly, to the pain and ecstasy which Satchidanandan describes above, to find new ways of giving yourself, spending yourself, creating and recreating yourself, forging words and forms for the formless immensity within and without, a voice with which to sing the sorrows of existence, a song in search of hope, in search of its own beginnings.

To be a poet is to answer that calling in all weathers. The call of the wild. I am a wild man. My mother used to call me (I was hardly nine at the time), “The Wild Man from Borneo”. The poet is one who cannot be tamed, the bear that you cannot chain, the bird that cannot be caged.

There’s a photo of me as a child with some of my siblings and I’m holding a stick, whether I thought it was a crozier or a shillelagh at the time, I don’t know. The image of the Fighting Irish with a shillelagh is a distorted one—before matters degenerated into faction fighting, I believe the shillelagh was a highly sophisticated tool employed in martial arts.

I digress … the tallest boy in the photo was my brother Michael who was only 17 when he drowned in Glendalough. To be a poet, ideally, is to be Everyman.

Gabriel Rosenstock - The Culturium
 Gabriel Rosenstock [with stick] and siblin


The frivolousness associated with Japanese haiku in Bashō’s time ended when he wrote the following haiku, a haiku surrounded by a great silence:

on a bare branch
a crow alights
autumn evening

I can hear a radiating silence all around this haiku. Can you? It helps that haiku have no title, no full stop at the end: we have entered the haiku, in media res, and it continues without us, into infinity. Where did it come from?

Daisetz Suzuki says that there is a great Beyond in the lonely crow “perching on the dead branch of a tree. All things come out of an unknown abyss of mystery and through every one of them we can have a peep into the abyss …”

I approach haiku with a reverence, even in my irreverent haiku. I have over a dozen unpublished collections of ekphrastic haiku, haiku in response to works of art or photography. If you look at the haiku blogged in response to the work of American master photographer, Ron Rosenstock (no relation), I think you will agree that both the haiku and the landscapes are permeated and perfumed by silence.

Spontaneous haiku are acts of meditation and meditation leads us to Silence and the Self; in other words we can never get in touch with Reality, with Truth, without entering Silence.

dom’ shú isteach
sa chroílár ionam féin –

sucking me in

to the deep core of being –

tree stump

Ron Rosentock’s photograph evoked Gabriel Rosenstock’s ekphrastic haiku in Gaelic and English

I speak

in wordless living language

read my vowels and consonants

#27 11/11/2021

(This blog author’s ekphrastic haiku in response)

Published by The Baron

Retired non-profit administrator.

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