July 8, 2011 3 Comments
How straight forward is this excellent haiku:
soldier unfolding the scent of a letter
Robinson, Chad Lee. Mann Library’s Daily Haiku. July 31, 2010. Web.
A quick read and you think a soldier is unfolding a scented letter from a girl friend. On the surface we have a soldier in a distant land or at least isolated from normal civilian life and he has received a scented letter. He is unfolding the letter and anxious to read the contents.
But on another level the haiku could be read as two distinct images.
the scent of a letter
The reader could view this as the soldier is unfolding because he is in a foreign country, he is battle weary, or he did not expect this scented letter. The verb unfolding leads the reader down different paths.
On still another level the soldier is unfolding the scent. Where did he smell this before, what memories does the scent evoke? The sense of smell is overwhelming his need to read the contents, and it could cause a stressed person to “unfold.”
The beauty of this haiku is in the many interpretations. And the one line format (monostich) enhances this ambiguity; it leaves no clues to image breaks.