Table of Contents


The Heron's Nest
a haikai journal ... 

Home • Journal • About • Connections

Editor's Choices • Haiku: 1, 2, 3, 4 • Index of Poets

Volume I, Number 4: December, 1999.
Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved by the respective authors.

Heron's Nest Award

      morning tea–
      from the parakeet's cage
      a toy bell tinkles
                                           June Moreau

June Moreau is utterly immersed in her enjoyment of this moment and no other. The goal has been reached, and the goal has not been to escape from wordly clamor, nor has it been to pause in a busy schedule. What has been achieved is movement in accord with the current of life, the flow of the Tao–a fully relaxed, and conscious acceptance of what is happening right now. The poet is alert and attentive. She pours a cup of tea. Can you hear it filling her cup? The sound has the same quality as the sound of the bell in the parakeet's cage.

The alliteration and onomatopoeia are well balanced, not overdone. They enhance rather than distort the poem's sense of peacefulness. The words "toy" and "tinkles" echo the consonance of "tea." Assonance is also well placed: the long "e" sounds of "tea" and "parakeet." In the latter example, notice the delightful way the assonant and consonant sounds become reversed. In this poem one can hear the taste of tea in the sound of the bell, and taste the sound of the bell in the tea.

This haiku may at first seem to be simply an auditory snapshot, a pleasant atmosphere, a quiet moment–no big deal. Not so. Beyond describing a state that is not so easy to achieve in our ever more hectic society (deep relaxation while fully awake), June's poem points to the state of mind necessary to be free, regardless of life circumstances. She accomplishes this through juxtaposing contrast and similarity. The contrast lies in that the poet can roam about if she so chooses; the parakeet's mobility is restricted to a cage. The similarity lies in that the poet is happy to sit and sip tea; the parakeet is happy to nibble at the toy bell. These circumstances merge in the complimentary sounds of the tea and the bell. Whether restricted or not, both the bird and the poet are content in what they are doing. When there is no desire to be elsewhere, we are able to thoroughly appreciate the present moment. Freedom is a state of mind.

In a way, this haiku calls to mind the following lines from Wordsworth's, Personal Talk:

To sit without emotion, hope, or aim,
In the loved presence of my cottage fire,
And listen to the flapping of the flame,
Or kettle whispering its faint undersong.

Thanks go to June Moreau for sharing her equanimity in this delicate and most satisfying haiku.

  Christopher Herold
December, 1999