Thursday, December 16, 2010

Literary decisions in haiku

In his book, The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America (1994, Doubleday), author David Whyte recalls the epic hero Beowulf's battle with Grendel’s mother. Beowulf is forced to descend into the murky depths of a lake to face his fears — despite an urge to stay safe in the light. Whyte points out that the search for one’s own soul and the corresponding need to make a momentous, life-changing decision is a common theme in literature. Below, I enter the heads of other great literary (and one cinematic) characters as they make a decision — in haiku.

(Super-minor spoilers for classic literature):

Enkidu, my friend
I wish I were more like you
Able to know me

It’s a long way home
I’ll see my loving wife soon
But first, I explore

The abyss beckons
His mother wants to kill me
But I find a sword

Nine circles explored
I abandoned hope, entered
The soul’s journey ends

Elizabeth Bennet:
Marry for money?
Never! I’ll marry for love
Darcy? Not so bad …

Jo March:
Aunt March wants me home
I’d rather visit with Laurie
Beth, how I miss you

Anne Shirley:
Oh, that currant wine!
The red soil of my home
Won’t keep me rooted

Jay Gatsby:
Having a goal helps
I choose to be in West Egg
To be near Daisy

Tom Joad:
We came here for hope
California was no home
For Okie workers

Rick Blaine:
My café is free
What is important? Elsa
I will help Lazlo

Holden Caufield:
Too much phoniness
This school is not where you learn
Big Apple beckons

Atticus Finch:
Race should play no role
Justice needs an example
For my two children

Doctor Manhattan:
I am above them
Ozymandias is right
Deception saves man

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