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LEARNING: the heart of a haiku | resonance - rasa | part two

Updated: Apr 30


Written by Kala Ramesh

First published in Pune365, an online newspaper. August, 2016



the heart of a haiku

a space for a little poem

to weave its magic!


part two

the resonance


I continue with rasa and resonance today, for rasa plays a very important role in how Indians understand art forms and resonance plays an equally important and crucial role in haiku.

What is rasa?

What is that ‘something’ that gives sugar its sweetness?


That is what rasa — the aesthetic essence — is to a work of art. Just as the wave is part of the ocean but still rises repeatedly from the ocean and reaches the shore to touch you, so is 'rasa' an intrinsic part of any work of art, but arises constantly out of that art to touch your being. That ‘connect’ I spoke about last Monday.


Rasa means the aesthetic emotion - a flavour, the distilled essence of the mood created in the listener’s mind — the residue left in our minds after we appreciate a piece of art.


Haiku relies on resonance. As I’ve told you, I have been drawn to a particular haiku a number of times simply because the poem continues to echo in my mind and begins to live in my memory . . . it reverberates, adding more texture and resonance as the years pass.


Enjoy these haiku, which I don’t think need explanation. Do give special attention to the way words reflect and link to one another, giving unity and completeness to the words coming together as a poem. See how Basho uses a filming technique of zooming in on a whitefish. Nick Virgilio’s ‘lily’ became world famous, and most of us have tried our version of ‘out of itself!’ It all culminates in the ‘haiku spirit,’ of which poets speak so highly. .


After the storm

a boy wiping the sky

from the tables


— Darko Plazanin Sambo



In the twilight of dawn

A whitefish, with an inch

Of whiteness


— Matsua Basho Tr. by Makoto Ueda



lily ...

out of the water out of itself

— Nick Virgilio




far down the railroad tracks

the brakeman’s lantern

gets lost among the fireflies

— Alan Pizzarelli


spring scents

the dog and I walk

through different worlds


— Kirsty Karkow


night songs

gathering oneness

a wolf's howl


— Kala Ramesh

above the moor

not attached to anything

a skylark sings


— Matsua Basho Tr. by Makoto Ueda


doing laundry

at the river's edge

the flow of gossip


— Angelee Deodhar



migrating geese—

the things we thought we needed

darken the garage

— Chad Lee Robinson


My special thanks to Jenny Angyal for editing and proofreading this column.

The copyright of the haiku rests with the authors. Nick Virgilio’s haiku rests with his estate. Copyright of this title and the page rests with Kala Ramesh.


Passionate about taking haiku to everyday spaces, Kala Ramesh initiated the ‘HaikuWALL India,’ where she gets graffiti artists to paint haiku on city walls. As an external faculty member of the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts she teaches undergrads haiku and other allied Japanese short forms of poetry.


Publishing credits:

after the storm: Ehime Prefecture, 1990 National Cultural Festival lily: American Haiku: 1.2

far down the railroad tracks: Paperclips Press Here 2001 spring scents: shorelines 2007.

night songs: cattails – January 2016

above the moor: Basho and his Interpreters by Makoto Ueda doing laundry: Asahi Shimbun, May 2014.

migrating geese: The Heron’s Nest XIII.1


This essay was originally published every Monday in Pune 365 - an online newspaper in August, September and October 2016. And then later, this set of nine essays was picked up by the British Haiku Society for their website. Passionate about taking haiku to everyday spaces, Kala Ramesh initiated the ‘HaikuWALL India,’ where she gets graffiti artists to paint haiku on city walls. As an external faculty member of the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, she teaches undergrads haiku and other allied Japanese short forms of poetry in a 4-month-60-hour course. The haiku feature appears every Monday on Pune365, from August to October 2016.

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23 comentarios


Thank you for these articles and the poems and especially the further explication of rasa! I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. Thank you Lakshmi for talking about haiku that seem to be sentences!

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Thank you, Susan.

Happy you liked these essays.

Have you read the others too?

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Beautiful write-up and especially I love the "rasa" analogy with haiku. "Rasa" is a hard word to translate into English and Kala has done it really well. The poems, cited of course, are beautiful and resonant although I might be a bit partial to the first one:


After the storm

a boy wiping the sky

from the tables


— Darko Plazanin Sambo

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Happy you enjoyed this essay, Biswajit.

Thank you for letting me know.

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The prose and the haiku selection help deepen my haiku practice. Thank you, Kala, and those who commented. 🙏

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Most welcome, Marilyn.

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The following haiku keeps resonating for me.


a falling sound

that sours my ears

plum rain


I think this is a sense-switching piece by Bashō.


Still learning. Thanks for the opportunity.

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So well explained dear Kala—rasa as the aesthetic essence and resonance as aesthetic emotion!

Thanks Gauri for sharing--please edit the para which has been repeated starting from "passionate about", maybe the earlier para can be deleted.

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Thank you, Neena.

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