Friday, March 4, 2016

a literary analysis of an untitled haiku by Gayle Eidschun

Corridor. A word
Would echo beautifully down
its very namesake.

At first glance this untitled haiku, despite its brevity, appeared to be something of an infinite reduction of cleverness. Its structure reinforced the “[echoing]” punchline of the poem, reminiscent of especially adroit New Yorker cartoon strips. However, upon deeper examination, certain semiotic themes came into light.

Traditionally the metrical features are not much of a consideration due to the structure of a Haiku. Nevertheless, the prosody of the first two lines matches extraordinarily well with the subject at hand.

The poem opened with a dactyl, fully stopped with firm punctuation. After such a forceful first impression, it then slides sonorously across a pyrrhic foot. Thereafter a mirror image of the dactyl greets the reader in the form an anapest. A nearly literal sonic “echo” was to be had, further bolstered by the alliterative Cs. Speaking of alliteration, the two Ws from “word” and “[w]ould” beautifully tie together the first two lines and give that pyrrhic foot more poetic impact than otherwise indicated. Next a pair of trochees finish out the second line before, finally, an irregular array of spondees destroys meter altogether. It finishes as the purely syllabic verse one would expect in a haiku.

So, the central theme of the poem could be considered the very idea of echoing, reiterated by the echoing meter. It’s about a word echoing well down itself; all very clever but devoid of much meaning.

Yet, something still catches in the mind about this piece, a short glimpse of a deeper issue. A word echoed down itself. It became a subtle reminder of the difference between a word and an object, between a physical space, a literal sound, a symbol, and an idea.

With some thought beyond first impressions, Ms. Eidschun’s haiku sounded as an exemplar of the slipping nature of words.

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