Poetry at Sangam




from Haruo Shirane’s Traces of Dreams: Landscape, Cultural Memory, and the Poetry of Basho (Stanford University Press, 1998)

first Haikai poetry differed from court poetry in deliberate use of contrasts between colloquial and classical, literate language…

among other things this brings reality of class and possibility of a renegotiation of class boundaries into being as a space in thought

thus shifts between topoi and dictions as a key to certain lyric effects

a key to basic hokku (later “haiku”) is deployment of a “cutting word” that establishes a difference; within the traditional discipline, there are 16 “words” which really seem to be particles, auxiliary verbs, verb endings signaling mood:

as in

furi / yuki / wa / yangai / no / kami / no / shiraga / kana

falling / snow/ with respect to / willow / ‘s / hair / white hair/ !

where the “cut” is the kana at the end

we do some of this with line break, but I wonder if it might not also be accomplished by (mis)-use of grammar particles in English as semiotic eruption…

or does the latter produce a “suspension” or “duration” rather than a cut?

anyway, some thought needs to go into translating this effect

the other thing: the links established or the change that occurs across a cut are described as built on “word links” (lexical association), content links (narrative extension, based on combination), and “scent link” (shared connotations or atmosphere, based on equivalence).

there are four kinds of scent links:

transference (the mood moves to a second non-narratively linked topos, by which a series of reflective relations occur, a back and forth between initial topos and second, linked topos)

reverberation (for instance, bitterness of white radish which reverberates with winds of autumn; some carry-over of a movement or dynamic

status link (where by social status implied by initial image and language is “pulled out” in second topos/figure

scent (strictly a perfumatory effect by which mood of one topos links or blooms again in the second)

this is then a basic structure through which to run relations that are either product of your own associations or which occur as and in language…

a way thereby to lead a person through some fold of mind