A Scrooge-Like Compassion

Today’s Ragtag Prompt word is CHARITABLE

There are many people who’s hearts are touched by compassion, who are kind and willing to share when they see a need, and I’m thankful for them all. Unfortunately this trait rarely extends to the animal kingdom. Their policy tends to be, “Me and mine and that’s IT!”

Our poor Angus is nursing a gash on his left cheek because another cat dared to come over and sit on our step — and needed to be taught that such liberties aren’t allowed. Over the past few years he’s had various abscesses that needed doctoring and has notches on one ear — all of which came about during another “physical removal operation.”

I’ve had opportunity in the past to see Angus display the charity of Ebeneezer Scrooge. That crotchety character, when asked for a donation for folks who needed food and shelter during the winter, suggested the poor house. When told that some folks would rather die than spend their days in the poor house, Scrooge mercilessly replied, “If they’re going to die, then let them get on with it. There’ll be less needy people.”

Angus has a nice warm house to live in and lots of food, but he isn’t at all sympathetic to another cat who’d wish for the same. He has come to accept Pookie, who wandered in about five years ago, but should he lay eyes on another cat anywhere near our house now, he communicates his message loud and clear: “What’s here is all ours but YOU, wretch, are not getting ANYTHING. Now beat it!”

Here’s a little poem I wrote once about the subject.

Border Confrontations

Two tomcats meet on my fence;
in a fanfaronade of frizzled fur
they dispute who owns this particular
property. Tails lash, eyes flash fire
as they hash it out – militants
defending self-defined borders,
crouched to spring or flee.
After prolonged discussion one
bows to superior yowl power,
cedes territory grudgingly.
You silly cats! I own this place.
But neither one asks my opinion.

😦

From my book, Silver Morning Song

When Night Comes Down

The Word of the Day challenge for today is TWILIGHT.
I’m going to respond with this thought provoking verse by Edgar Guest:

NIGHT

When night comes down
to the busy town
and the toilers stir no more,
then who knows which
is the poor or rich
of the day which went before?

When dreams sweep in
through the traffic’s din
for the weary minds of men,
though we all can say
who is rich by day,
who can name us the rich man then?

It is only awake
the proud may take
much joy from the stuff they own,
for the night may keep
her gifts of sleep
for the humblest mortal known.

By day held fast
to creed and caste,
men are sinner and saint and clown.
But who can tell
where the glad hearts dwell
when the dreams come drifting down?

.
From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

Constable About

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was MICROCOSM

This is a word I’ve never really understood and never used—I find it hard enough to spell — but I dutifully checked it and came up with “a miniature representation” of a greater thing, “a little world” unto itself that typifies a greater society, or  “a community or other unity that is an epitome of a larger one.” (The last being from Merriam-Webster.)

I suppose you could say that “Amazon authors are a microcosm of writers the world over.” And I hope I’m using it rightly in the following example.

I’ve started reading another of Nicholas Rhea’s “Constable” books. I read this delightful series twenty years ago, when Bob’s mom lived with us. I borrowed them for her, along with the Miss Read books, from the local library. Simple fiction stories divided into cases or incidents, replete with amusing, mild and friendly characters, though some are a trial to the poor constable and his colleagues.

The Yorkshire village where Constable Nick Rhea lived and worked was a microcosm of village life in counties all across England in the 40s and 50s. There are a number of books in this series, which, I understand, was made into a British TV series in the 60s:
Constable Goes to Market
Constable on the Prowl
Constable Over the Style
Constable Versus Greengrass (An amiable “opportunist”, poacher & general layabout)
Constable at the Dam
Constable Under the Gooseberry Bush
And more

Prize-winning gooseberry bushes that must be protected feature first in the Constable in the Dale book I’m reading now. This is followed by the vicar’s successful, if sometimes embarrassing, porker-producing enterprise starring the lovely “White Lily.”

If you like a touch of rural England that’s both nostalgic and a great picture of human nature, do check out these books. I’m delighted to discover that the e-book versions are all free on Kindle Unlimited.

Of Cliches and Writing Prompts

I recently scanned a list of 681 clichés a writer should never use use. Absolutely passé, we’re told. No longer can you upset the apple cart, keep all your eggs in one basket, or bark up the wrong tree.

Woe is me! I LIKE some of those old expressions; they said so much in so few words. Replacing them is going to be a challenge.

As we toss out the old folk wisdom, I suppose our next expressions — and we will want them — will come mainly from screenwriters and witty sit-coms. And phrases will get old faster; some of the lines we heard back in the 70s are already considered clichés.

Anyway, “too many irons in the fire” isn’t on the list yet, so I can say that I’ve added another iron to my fire, another pot to bubble merrily on my hearth.

Pots.Pexels
Pexels – Pixabay

Or how about, “I’m growing another succulent in my bowl”?

Succulents.katerina zhang
KaterinaZhang- Pixabay

Starting tomorrow, December 1st, I’ll be supplying the prompt word over at Ragtag Daily Prompt every Sunday morning. I hope you will all to pop over and check out what prompt I’ve come up with. 🙂

You’re all welcome to join in: write a response to the prompt, post it, and add your link to the comments.

Haiku: A Quick History

Haiku & Senryu History

from comments by Alan Summers,
compiled by Christine Goodnough

Most people who know about haiku think of masters like Basho and his famous poem about the frog jumping into the pond. Or the tender-hearted, melancholic Issa who knew so much sorrow in his life. Haiku master Alan Summers, who has spent decades studying this form of poetry, offers the following background for this style of poetry.

Are haiku verses all about nature?

Pre-haiku, as written by Basho et al, were seasonal poems, more than being nature poems. They might be about a human society celebration, the coming of age of boys, children, or Matsuri, which are holidays, religious days or farming events.

When haiku came about, in the 1890s, it was caught in the old medieval mindset, but on the edge of the 20th century, when trains and factories were starting to be built. So I think of haiku, which really came into its own just before WWII and post-WWII, reflecting the industrial revolution and huge changes in human society.

The intimate relationship with the seasons, coming from the pre-Industrial Revolution era when people were super-aware of the slightest shift into the next part of a season, meant that folks would write little postcards with a seasonal reference. Sometimes this was just a note or a hello, and not always poetry. But when haikai poetry came about, the common and popular and normal practice of mentioning the change in a season in conversation, gossip, or greeting cards, also became part of the tiny haikai poems.

In the shift toward haiku, just before the 20th century, writers often used the seasonal ‘mention’ although post-WWII when the industrial revolution morphed into the various technological leaps in warfare and general manufacture, different topics would be added. Of course, as they moved into computer technology and robotics, these would be naturally added.

So nature, or natural history, is often part of a haikai verse in some aspect, but this is only part of the body of haikai poetry.

When Shiki did his reformation of haiku and tanka, little changed for a decade or two, then those society-changing world wars we seem to love for some reason, shifted haiku into its own genre, away from the chains of the medieval hokku and earlier haikai verses penned by Basho et al.

Haiku has been known in the West almost as long as in Japan, interestingly enough. The French were the very earliest to pen haiku very early on in the 20th Century.

See: Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (W. W. Norton 2013)
ed. Jim Kacian, Philip Rowland, Allan Burns; plus Introduction by Billy Collins
Click here for link.

What is senryu?

This was another verse from the big group poem collaboration called Renga, which spawned both hokku (similar to haiku) and the verse named after its most successful propagator.

Senryu was the nickname or pen-name of a poet who was famous for this particular style of verse in the group poetry writing activity called renga, and later, under Basho, the increasingly popular renku. Both renga and renku are the most complicated and intricate poems in the world, with more rules than you could shake a stick at!

Senryu verses were sometimes written to mock the growing haiku writers and, before haiku came about, the various haikai verse writers who wrote hokku.

A good test of what makes the verse a senryu: CLICK HERE.

For more reading, check out these articles & free books:

To learn more about the various forms of Japanese poetry, check out Call of the Page

Why haiku is different and Basho never wrote them in English: Click Here

More than one fold in the paper: Kire, kigo, and the vertical axis of meaning in haiku: Click Here

Free eBook:
Senryū: An Application to be a) human
by Alan Summers

Free eBook:
Kaneko Tohta:Selected Haiku With Notes and Commentary – Part 2 – 1961–2012

There are also a number of online haiku journals where you can find great examples of Japanese poetry:
Troutswirl, cattails, The Heron’s Nest, Wales Haiku Journal, etc.