Precipice Prudence

The Ragtag Daily Prompt is PRECISE
The Discover prompt for today: HANDS
The Word of the Day challenge: BOUNCE
This verse can also be my contribution to National Poetry Month


         Sheer Folly!

When you stand
at the pinnacle of a precipice
be prudent and precise
where you put your feet
lest some slight slip
send you sliding;
down the slippery slope
you’ll bounce and tumble
like a stone
to a crunching crash below.

Hands won’t help,
Precipice storyno handrails anywhere,
no grasping at the rushing air
will stop you. Only wings
would save you then,
and those you lack
so stand well back.
Don’t risk a fall for folly.

Likewise in life,
this panorama
of time and space
through which we tread,
be prudent and precise
where you put your feet.

Oh Joy! Another New Word

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is SKIMPY

I suppose I could stretch this word to cover our morning snowfall. Huge fluffy snowflakes drifted down for a couple of hours, but altogether they made only a SKIMPY covering on our steps and tiles. And now the sun has come out to melt them away.

As my blog post title reveals, when I looked this word in the M-W Thesaurus I discovered among the synonyms a word I’ve never heard before. Maybe I’ll use it for a writing prompt someday. However, it wouldn’t be one you’d insert into a normal conversation unless your listener was especially erudite.

excessively scanty; inadequate
hand-to-mouth, meager, scant, scanty, skimpy, slim, spare, sparse.

As in:
The young tree clung to the hillside, sucking an exiguous life from the rocky soil in which it had sprung up.

Photo: analogicus — Pixabay


A Frisson of Joy

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is AESTHETICS

I’ve always seen this word as ESTHETICS; Merriam-Webster gives both spellings. This word refers to things that are beautiful or pleasing in appearance — which in turn means that so much could be written about this subject. You’re all welcome to hop over to the Ragtag Community and see what other bloggers are saying/showing in regard to aesthetics.

We’ve had fog for the last couple of days here; by yesterday evening this had settled into hoarfrost on all branches of all the trees. This morning we have a new fall of pure white snow to add to the scenic beauty.

When I check the free images sites like Pixabay and Unsplash, I can hardly pick one “asthethic” representation from the many images that please the eye. These scenes give a little frisson of joy; I can rejoice that in this imperfect world there are things — and people — of such amazing natural beauty. Granted, a lot of this beauty is planned and photos are shot with filters to enhance the colors. We mortals are ever striving to make things even more aesthetic.


But life isn’t all about dwelling in pleasant places, seeing lovely things. There’s that old saying that “If you can’t do what you love, love what you do.” To a homemaker, a muddy floor is anything but aesthetically pleasing, so we scrub it rather than live with the constantly irritating sight of dirt. Once it’s clean, it is pleasant to behold, plus we have that frisson of joy, the pleasant satisfaction of accomplishment.

Which reminds me that I need to work on some aesthetics this morning. 😉 Have a great day — or evening — everyone.

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.