Day's End

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Day's End


Recently, after getting a good report card on my yearly physical, a friend said, "That's great – you have a free pass for another year." As if the issue of age doesn't confront me each morning while shaving. As if tomorrow I won't experience the same age issues that I faced today.

This website contains a collection of my published haibun on the subject of aging mixed with related haiku, senryu and tanka poems by many of today's well-known poets. Also included are poems from Asian poetry masters – voices from the past sharing the same sensibilities as we, who think of ourselves as modern, have. Indeed, the title of this website is taken from a poem by Tu Fu1, who lived in the eighth century.

The collection may give the impression that during this later period of life, one dwells mostly on aging. But for the most part, I and the other living contributors enjoy creative lives and we do write about other subjects and even on the subject of aging with humour.2

There is an important irony in the presentation – while some may see the subject of aging as dour, this website is more about the beauty of age shown through images and the enjoyment and sharing of experience through poetry.

The poetry, in particular, has the feeling of wabi-sabi, a term that represents a Japanese aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience – an acknowledgment of three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.3 Because many of the writers are living the last quarter of their lives, it's natural that some of their writing focuses on aging and has a wabi-sabi ambience.

I've selected age-related poems directly affecting the writer and not the writer's friends or family and particularly not on the issue of loss of a loved one.

I hope you enjoy this collection, but I suspect it will make for somewhat melancholy reading. If so, perhaps a glass of whiskey or a cup of hot chocolate by the fireside will help as the season of winter approaches.

Contents and Selections

The term editor comes from the Latin phrase editus which means "to put forward.” The editor ludorum in Ancient Rome was the person who put on the games and who chose which gladiators were to be presented to the public. As editor of this personal website, I'm mainly putting forward my own haibun. I regret that I am providing but a small sampling of the writing by others on this topic. A fuller collection of poems by others is found on the related website: Day's End: Many Poets.

The poems on this website have their roots in the ancient Japanese traditions of haiku, senryu, tanka and haibun. In their contemporary English-language incarnation, haiku and senryu are typically presented in three lines and consist of two distinct phrases totaling seventeen or fewer syllables.5 Tanka is usually a five-line poem.6 Haibun, which also enjoys a long history in Japanese literature, is a mix of prose plus one or more haiku, senryu or tanka poems. The poems bring an added dimension to the prose.7

In places, the website provides a mix of images and poetry. This is a contemporary version of an ancient Japanese practice called haiga, in which a brushwork painting was combined with calligraphic haiku.8

The images and poems have been paired in two ways: illustrative and oblique. In an illustrative pairing, the subject of the image is directly related to the content of the poem. If the poem references a meadow, for example, the image might show a meadow. When the pairing is oblique (not directly illustrative), you may have to stretch your mind a bit to see the relationship – or perhaps your personal connection of image with poem won't be the intended one. Former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins, for one, would not have you worry about it.9

Navigating this Website

Depending on your computer screen's resolution, the poem-images may look too big (e.g., the poem or image don't fit fully on your screen) or too small (e.g., the text is difficult to read). In the left-had navigation column, "index-small" will lead you to smaller images and "Index-large" to larger ones. At any time you can switch to the size that best suits you.

1. Tu Fu (2004). Wabi Sabi Simple. Adams Media. ISBN 1-59337-178-0. -> Tu Fu's Poem

2. As examples of humour see poems by Issa, Jim Kacian & Charles Trumbull.

3. Powell, Richard R. (2004). Wabi Sabi Simple. Adams Media. ISBN 1-59337-178-0.

4. Information and website design contact: R.V. Rasmussen

5. Readers who wish to learn more about haiku and senryu might start with the following website:

bulletHaiku Society of America: Definitions Page

6. Readers who wish to learn more about tanka might start with this website:

bulletTanka Society of America: What is tanka?

7. Readers who wish to learn more about haibun might start with the journals Contemporary Haibun Online & Haibun Today.

8. Readers who wish to learn more about haiga might start with Haigaonline for definitions and examples of traditional, experimental and contemporary haiga.

9. Billy Collins, "Introduction to Poetry," The Apple that Astonished Paris, 1996, University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, Ark.

Copyright © 2011. All images and poetry are the property of the cited photographers and poets. Nothing from this website may be copied or used in any way without the written permission of the cited poet or photographer.