Leonard Dabydeen’s Haiku: Eager Waiting for the Communion with the Infinite by Manab Manik
Haiku, one of the briefest poems, contains 17 syllables, arranged in three lines. Through the employment of minimum words maximum information is given. This short poem reminds us of the speech of Polonius in Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ — “…brevity is the soul of wit”. It’s a form of poetic enlightenment. The poet Leonard Dabydeen captures a particular moment through nature-images. The falling of the snowflakes is a common natural phenomenon. It brings a note of hopelessness and despair. People are hardly seen outside. This atmosphere reminds us of Keats’ poem ‘The Poetry of Earth’ where Keats mentions “When the frost has wrought a silence” and Hardy’s ‘The Darkling Thrush’ in the beginning of which the poet describes a wintry landscape full of despair. The falling of snowflakes also finds an echo in Frost’s ‘Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening’ in which Frost talks about ‘downy flake’. The commoners may stay indoor but the bards like Hardy’s bird thrush find ray of hope e’en in apparent gloom. The last line ‘thinking of Christmas’ brings a note of hope and joy — a festive mood for which everybody has been eagerly waiting. The poet journeys from despair to hope. The wintry landscape may also be suggestive of the poet’s own life that has reached the winter season but in his winter season of life he still finds ray of hope — a ray that will enlighten his soul. The very thought of Christmas may also be the eager waiting of the poet for holy communion with the Infinite through renewal of life. The apparent gloom of old age that the first two lines create will be eliminated in the end. Thus this haiku is deceptively simple like Frost’s poems. It’s less literary and leads us to deep philosophical musings. The poem being haiku, the poet makes us realize our wintry life and meditation that finds union with the Infinite as evident in the end. Like Sunil Sharma’s poem ‘The Old Man’s Sea’ and Tagore’s verses in ‘Song Offerings’ this haiku leads us to think of the communion with the Infinite in the wintry season of life. The ‘November skyline’ is also less literary. The month symbolically suggests the afternoon of life and the ‘skyline’ indicates the line between life and death metaphorically.
Manab Manik is a bilingual poet and short story writer, translator and reviewer whose poems and stories have been published in India, Australia, Canada, USA, Belgium both online and print. His poetry books ‘Dreams Shattered and Other Poems’ and ‘My Poetic Offering’ published in 2019 have got great critical responses in India and beyond. His stories like Wilde’s and Tagore’s draw tears of the readers. Recently Manab is teaching English literature at Mugbasan Hakkania High School about 70 miles away from Kolkata in India.