hunting… this or that

September 11, 2014 § 14 Comments


butterfly soars –

 a lost soul



This was the image I first chose to accompany the haiku :


But the meaning implicit in the scroll was quite different from what I intended…

which is this:

cat and butterfly 19th c Mori Kansai  japanese


Two cats, two butterflies (or is one a moth?), two very similar images. The only real difference is that in the first the cats eyes are open; in the other they are closed.

What a difference it makes to the interpretation of the poem. Who is the lost soul? I love the way haiku encourage me to think outside the box…


First image: hanging scroll courtesy Museum Fine Arts, Boston. Late 19th century. Mori Kansai

Second image: Japanese silk panels courtesy Naga Antiques. Artist unknown.

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§ 14 Responses to hunting… this or that

  • mikesteeden says:

    As ever – splendidly conceived words.

  • F.G.M. says:

    Very interesting comment about a very interesting haiku… who is the lost soul?, mmm maybe neither the cat nor the butterfly… I wonder if it could be… the reader “looking” at your poem… (I say “to look” and not “to read”, since your poems always a have special relation with pictures – in fact, they ARE pictures! And I love the verb “to soar”, I don’t know why, it is visually funny, which is not the case of its pronunciation for poor non native speakers like me!!! Have a nice day –
    I’m sure you would love the Musée Guimet, in Paris, it is about oriental arts. Maybe you’ll be interested in visiting its website:
    Have a nice day :-)♥

    • Rachael Charmley says:

      Yes, there could be a third being involved… ahh. Haiku as pictures? YES. That’s so accurate. The verb ‘to soar’ ( pronounced like ‘more’) for me could be sung – an elevation – going higher in tone – as the bird. butterfly, soul – lifts to the heavens.
      Thank you for the heads up on the Musee Guimet, Frederic – I shall check it out. x

  • Miranda Stone says:

    Definitely fascinating how this can be interpreted in two different ways based on the images you shared. Either way, a bit of a melancholy haiku, but beautifully written, Rachael!

    • Rachael Charmley says:

      Glad you enjoyed my little light bulb moment! It was a real reminder to me how a good haiku has to be controlled yet ambiguous! And thank you my friend 🙂

  • kismet says:

    Beautiful 🌾🍃🍂🍃🌾🍃🍂🌾

  • mariam.rehman says:

    I thought exactly like Fredric…can the ‘lost soul’ be beautiful, just like a ‘butterfly’? Can it be that the ‘lost soul’ is as free as a butterfly?

    These are just thoughts that came to my mind while I was reading this.

    I feel there’s a lot of depth to this piece, love it –

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Rachael Charmley says:

      Ah. Thanks Miriam. I continue to be amazed how often my dear readers interpret a haiku in ways I had never dreamed of. I’m amazed and not a little flattered. Truth is, I just write them; the understanding of them is for the reader. 🙂

      • mariam.rehman says:

        I will share one of my favorite quotes by Francis Bacon here, ‘The job of the artist is to deepen the mystery’ 🙂

        Yes Rachael, I too write for writing’s sake (Art for art’s sake)… the rest I leave up to my readers 🙂

    • Rachael Charmley says:

      Thank you for taking the time, Mariam. Maybe the success of this haiku was because it provoked questions rather than answers 🙂

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