Paul C. Blake’s Haiku: A Philosophical Approach to the Evanescent Human Life
Haiku, one of the shortest poems, reveals much and suggests more within 17 syllables arranged in 3 lines. Its purpose is to offer a poetic form of enlightenment. With the help of nature-image the poet Paul C. Blake brings out life from birth to death. The poem is less literary. It’s not merely about tiny buds that make a lovely flower and then fades. As this is a very short poem, the poet Blake has used literary devices like symbol and allegory to communicate his serious thoughts. On the allegorical level the poem reveals man’s temporary existence on earth. Life is just like a flower that blooms for an hour. Here flower is the symbolical representation of the entire humanity. The brevity of human life has been philosophized by Shakespeare, Tagore and other poets and artists. Shakespeare’s famous lines in ‘Macbeth’ “Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player…..” and Tagore’s lines from the first poem of ‘Song Offerings’ “This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again…..” float in this brief poem. Shakespeare has explained man’s temporaneity with a number of metaphors. Tagore has done this by referring to the frail vessel (a frail pot or boat), whereas Blake has revealed the evanescent life with the image of buds and flower. The poem may give a serious message to all to be conscious of the brief existence of all, as time’s winged chariot is hurrying near. With a philosophic, reflective, meditative outlook the poem shows man’s entire life within a short time. Being ignorant and unconscious of time’s cruelty man becomes quarrelsome, rude, intolerant and takes pride in his earthly glory that fades like the hue of a fading flower. The poem as if represents short life in Lord Krishna’s body (revealed in Viswarupa Darshanam in the 11th chapter of the Gita). Time’s cruelty is felt in a subtle way in the words ‘then’ and ‘Soon’. Ovid, Shakespeare and many poets come to our minds to think of temporary life. The poet Blake in an objective way remains away from the poem but watches, muses, sees, philosophises life from birth to death through the image of flower —
“Tiny buds open,
And then a lovely flower,
Soon a fading hue.”
It’s full of delight to the ordinary readers but wisdom to the intellectual readers.
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.