Bill Paulys Haiku of the Inner Spirit
Pauly is a contemporary writer and photographer. I have decided
to study his haiku found in his published book Wind, The
Clock, Bittersweet and the Global Haiku anthology.
He is currently living in Iowa and just recently quit his
teaching job at Loras College. He taught poetry and haiku
to the students at Loras for over 25 years. Pauly has won
major international contests; he received three First Prizes
in the H.G. Henderson Awards and has won an award at the Hawaii
Education Association Haiku Contest.
I was searching through books looking for an author to study
I was particularly draw to a haiku written by Bill Pauly in
the Global Haiku book. This haiku, like many of Paulys
haiku raises deep, unspoken discussion with myself and was
read several times. I did this because I wanted to create
not only a vivid picture in my mind but also so I could fully
understand if this is the image that was in the mind of the
author. Several questions arose when reading his haiku because
it is very mysterious. An image is created, but not usually
clear and crisp, my mental picture is clouded and thirsting
for more information. This intrigued me. Below is the first
haiku of Paulys that sparked my interest:
is she? What is she doing? Is she crying or rejoicing? Happy
or sad? Is the snowmelt indicating that the season is exiting
winter, or is the snow melting under her knees because of
her warmth and she might have been kneeling for awhile? These
are some of the questions that arose when I first read this
haiku. So I read it again
the same image appeared but a little more vivid with each
reading. After reading the whole haiku, my image was sad.
I pictured a young lady standing in the middle of a graveyard
in front of a grave stone. Her cheeks are rosy red and her
skin the color of milk. She holds a single flower in her hand
and the snow softly falls onto the already white ground from
snow that had fallen days before. Tears run down her cheeks
and she falls onto her knees. Her soul is weak from mourning
and even the coldness of snow doesnt stop her from her
fall and it dares not force her to get up. Her pain is so
deep that if she could bury herself, her pain would melt away.
This haiku is by far my favorite.
I have found that much of the haiku by Bill Pauly has a sense of nature but are more ambiguous. Much of the nature sensed in his haiku is of a more metaphorical moment in nature and human response or action. Through many of my experiences with haiku I have noticed that when authors put a seasonal element into their haiku the majority of the time it can be very random and not fit the puzzle as it should. Or the seasonal element will just describe the weather, or the moon, or a flower. But the interesting element of season in Paulys is that the seasonal action masks the human action. And the matching of these actions is very indirect, but I believe this is the reaction Pauly wishes to receive. Here are some haiku below that ground my thoughts:
haiku was found in the Global Haiku book. This haiku is also
an example of his haiku that is easily over looked because
of its subtleties. The question I ask is if this haiku is
about strictly about nature or if it is another metaphor towards
human nature, which is the way I read this. When I broke this
haiku down I thought that the white undersides of the birch
leave are a representation of skin under clothing. The reference
to the leaves flailing in a storm indicate that the two undressing
each other are passionately...well, ripping each others clothes
off. If there had been no mention of a storm the image would
have been a little softer. I believe that Bill Pauly has a
very passionate and a romantic outlook on relationships. When
he writes about the loving actions between a man and a woman,
his words are very sexual.
the one previous this haiku is also very intimate. Not only
do I imagine two lovers getting distracted by one another
while fishing, the rocking of the fish on the lines is a perfect
example of the rocking of the boat while they are in the middle
of this action. Of course the haiku doesnt come out
and say that it is two persons making love on a boat
while they are fishing. But the fact that the first line indicates
that the fish are left on their lines and forgotten, but are
rocking. And the second line usage of the words rowboat
and making love puts the image clear in my mind
that two persons did forget about catching fish and are making
love. This next haiku is a good representation of another
metaphor easily disregarded.
I get the impression that Bill Pauly speaks delicately of woman in some of his haiku. This haiku represents that thought through his line sound of her voice and then carrying eggs. Almost like she is trying to speak loud but it still comes out a whisper because in the third line across the ice indicates that carefulness of the situation she is in. Instead of her actually carrying eggs, she carries her voice delicately like an egg because she doesnt want to break the ice that is beneath her.
I really enjoy a lot of Bill Paulys haiku because of the different interactions between human and nature or in this case between animal and thing. When I think of a hunchback cat, I think of the stereotypical Halloween cat with an arched back and a hiss behind its teeth. So I find this haiku to be rather ironic because it is a hunchback on a spine fence because it is the arched cat spines that I picture in the hunchback cats.
haiku is one of my favorites. hard remembering you
is such a simple phrase that says so much. I can only image
looking into my past and trying to remember a certain moment
or a certain person I met, etc. but it is so far back in the
memory that pulling up the full recollection is a chore
unfortunately, the thought is on the tip of your tongue. When
this happens I am tainted all day with the memory I am trying
to remember. One of my favorite parts about this haiku is
the placement of these infamous words, the sharp corners represent
the difficulty in the situation.
haiku is creepy. A skull in the woods indicates
that someone or something died and all that remains are the
bones. eye sockets, which are indelicate words
anyway, in violets suggest that the violets were
the only witnesses to the death of what died. I like this
haiku because of Pauly choice of words but I find it rather
creepy and a bit disturbing.
All in all I really enjoyed reading his haiku. Bill Paulys haiku keeps my attention in place. His haiku intrigued me because while reading several of them I found myself asking various questions about the particular haiku. Pauly has a unique way of pulling together words to represent a situation, occurrence, still life, etc. As a writer he has inspired me to continue writing one haiku a day in my journal and testing out an approach similar to his own, which is the intertwining of seasonal surroundings and the human character.
©2003 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois || all rights reserved for original authors