What is the meaning of life? That was all – a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark.
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
In a lecture on the haiku and its influence on English poetry, Seamus Heaney said: ‘Mono no aware is defined in a glossary of Japanese artistic terms as a literary and artistic ideal cultivated in the Heian period. Literally meaning “pathos of things”, it usually refers to sadness or melancholy arising from a deep empathic appreciation of the ephemeral beauty manifested in nature, human life or a work of art.’ It was perhaps a sense of mono no aware that inspired me to respond in haiku form to the cherry blossom’s faithful blooming as the snow melted.
A March morning’s walk
Faint sun, wide skies. Suddenly
I hear the skylark
My open window
I can’t see the woodpecker
But hear him again
Yesterday’s snow gone
Cherry blossom’s whiteness
Eclipses my words.
The splendour of the cherry blossom eclipses my poor efforts.