Tribute by Barnabas I. Adeleke


Yesterday, I came across a haiku of the late haiku poet, Svetlana Marisova. She passed on at the age of 21. Her haiku to be candid redefined haiku to me as I could see staring at my face, a resurrected Basho showing us once more the lost aesthetics in this nature-based poetry which to traverse all ages, can only be conjured out of immense contemplation and zõka.

silent bird
I carry your song
through shadows

Sadly, Svetlana’s promising life was cut where the rope was getting stronger. The above haiku was penned during days of excruciating cancer pains. What a haiku coming from the depth of a mortal soul! What a haiku which sounds highly poetic and leaves room for numerous interpretations!

Now read this. Svetlana Marisova writes on her blog,
”True poetry is the expression of cosmic, organic, erotic life, creating its own forms as it springs from the depths of love. It is life expressing itself and, in being expressed, finds its voice”.
What an unusual definition of poetry!
Little wonder, this creative soul which saw everything with the eye of love once penned this:

deep within
I dissolve; I dissolve
into God

And when we talk of love, is man its author? I leave you readers to ponder on this.

Easter vigil
I pierce heaven with
closed eyes

I can bet this was a woman who devoted her life to contemplation. At this point, a similar haiku penned by a dying Basho comes to mind:

all the more I wish to seek
in those blossoms at dawn
the face of God

Until we go back to studying nature and finding for ourselves such answers as grasped by our forebearers, we cannot write as splendidly as these masters of old. I do wonder in my heart if truly what we write today as haiku is poetic. Can anyone read my works and find something spiritual, something that tugs on a soul and brings it to a realm of awareness it has never reached? I believe that’s the true ‘aha’ in haiku.
I read the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and I find this necessary to share. “People in the past had an intimate and immediate relationship with God and nature and arrived at their own understanding of the universe. All the basic elements that they required to do so exist at every moment in time. The sun shines today also. There is more wool and flax in the fields. There are new lands, new men, new thoughts.” Why can’t we demand our own works and laws and worship! Emerson advocated the rejection of received wisdom. He felt the laws of the universe are accessible to every individual through a combination of nature and his own inner processes.
I am sorry I might have digressed a little. But Emerson did speak a big truth. Why do we today still regard Basho as the greatest haiku poet who ever lived? Basho studied from the same nature that still exists today. And we claim we do too, but our poetry is less than half as good as his. Can people from every culture and tribe read my haiku and use it say, as a proverb when life’s experiences visit? Can my haiku be a song for someone to carry through shadows? Is it the same with most of Basho’s and Svetlana’s? I think we should be agitated enough to stop esteeming Basho and others and catch the spirit which they caught.
“Our forefathers viewed nature and God face to face; we, only through their eyes.” We can do better! I can do better!

Svetlana, you live on. You are, like Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, Kobayashi Issa and other haiku masters who followed zõka, immortalized in my heart and I believe, in the hearts of many who have found much inspiration and enlightenment in your works.
May your soul rest in peace.

Barnabas I. Adeleke
Ambassador to Nigeria,
United Haiku and Tanka Society, USA