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Hidden Tolkien Haiku? (game +)

noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 13 2017, 10:26am

Post #1 of 12 (2968 views)
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Hidden Tolkien Haiku? (game +) Can't Post

In short: Can you find, in Tolkien's writings, phrases or sentences that (presumably accidentally) form a haiku?


For this game, the ideal would be to find a '575 haiku' - something that could be written out as a 3-line poem, with a first line of 5 syllables, a second line of 7 syllables and a third line of 5 syllables. I've had no success at all so far (looking in LOTR), which surprises me, because it is not always so difficult to find hidden haiku in other texts. Perhaps this is something to do with the characteristic rhythms of Tolkien's writing?

I'm aware that there isn't complete agreement among poets about this definition of haiku. Some folks think the syllable count is not as important as presenting the effect of a haiku, or that syllable count is not important at all. And then folks differ about how to do that in English (e.g. whether it is essential to have two juxtaposed images or ideas, or whether there must be some seasonal reference). I'd be glad to read any hidden haiku of this kind that folks find, even if the syllable count isn't 5-7-5.

And then lastly, I don't see anything wrong with slightly tweaking Tolkien's text to haiku-ise it a bit more (but do say that's what you've done, to avoid confusion).

~~

Longer -
This all came out of a conversation Mrs NoWiz & I had while driving. We ended up wondering how often writers and speakers in English unintentionally came up with haiku. Certainly the web 'bot' HaikuD2 seems to find plenty by automatically trawling Twitter feeds (see https://twitter.com/HaikuD2 ). But on the other hand, I'd tried a web page into which you can throw large texts to look for haiku (http://mrfeinberg.com/haikufinder/ ) and didn't find many haiku from some out-of-copyright novels I copied from Project Gutenburg. But then, of course, you can always argue that a program has been set up in a way that will miss valid haiku. So when we got home we each grabbed a book (mine being FOTR). I was quickly losing about 5-0...

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


squire
Half-elven


Aug 13 2017, 12:33pm

Post #2 of 12 (2930 views)
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Pretty tough to do [In reply to] Can't Post

I see what you mean - Tolkien doesn't seem to produce the 5-7-5 Haiku very easily. On five tries of likely candidates, only one worked out:

No trees grew on it,
and the sun was falling full
on its stony face.

The other four all tossed an extra syllable or two (in red):
Everything looked fresh,
and the new green of Spring was
shimmering in the fields

the peaks were like plumes
of white flame above them; beyond
there was a space of sky

there was a level
space through which the stream flowed noisily
over shining pebbles

The only green was
the scum of livid weed on
the dark greasy surfaces


I wonder if the reason is that he writes in something approximating blank verse (we've had discussions on this in past seasons in the RR), and the iambs and near-iambs don't break into an odd number of syllables very well (5 and 7 are both odd, as is the sum of syllables, 17).

Anyway, it can be done, but it's not really a very enlightening exercise, in the way it would be if we found that Tolkien was crawling with natural haikus!



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 13 2017, 4:46pm

Post #3 of 12 (2901 views)
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*applause* - glad there is at least one! [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm curiously relieved that there is at least one! It is, btw, a very fine haiku.

Speaking of Curiously - am I right in remembering that it was Curious who would cast some of the LOTR text into blank verse, often with fine results? Curious was, sadly, before my time in the Room, but I think I remember looking up and enjoying some older posts in which he'd used that effect.

I expect you're right-
Tolkien is to iambic
To 'haiku' often

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 14 2017, 9:03pm

Post #4 of 12 (2878 views)
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Seems that we missed some... [In reply to] Can't Post

Mrs NoWiz decided to have a go, and with the sensitivity to this form that likely comes from writing a haiku daily for several years, she's spotted:

Nothing could be seen
Of the house in the dark; it
Stood back from the lane

(FOTR, Conspiracy Unmasked)

~~

"If Frodo won't talk,
I will tell you the whole tale
From the beginning."

(FOTR, ibid)

Pippin's next sentence is also a haiku:
"He then gave a full
Account of their journey from
The time when they left

(ibid)

~~

Found himself looking
Into a kitchen garden
Green-grey with dew

(FOTR, in the house of Tom Bombadil- this is 574, and you could make the final line "the dew", but then it's not so good)

~~

A cool air flowed in
It had a rainy smell.
'Sun won't show her face'

(Tom Bombadil, and a 565 )

~~
'I've been walking wide
Leaping on the hilltops, since
The grey dawn began'

(Bombadil again, this one slightly tweaked because Tolkien has 'I have been walking...')

~~
They could hear few words
But it seemed to them that
The song was a rain-song

(Bombadil- 576. Cutting this part of the text differently gives...

It seemed plain to them
That the song was a rain song
As sweet as showers

(Bingo!- 575, and perhaps the best one)

~~
As they listened, they
Began to understand the
Lives of the forest

(FOTR Tom Bombadil)

~~~
Finally - though the Mrs NoWiz is still going- some from Fog On The Barrow Downs:

They saw a line of
Tall trees ahead, and they knew
That they had come back

And...

They would soon now be
Going forward into lands
Wholly strange to them

~~~~~~~
My conclusion from this?

Tolkien haikus- not
As uncommon as they
Might appear at first

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm

(This post was edited by noWizardme on Aug 14 2017, 9:17pm)


squire
Half-elven


Aug 14 2017, 11:07pm

Post #5 of 12 (2876 views)
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Tweak? Who said we could tweak? [In reply to] Can't Post

I mean, I see the temptation. Merely "tweak" Tolkien and hey presto! instant haikus galore.

But look at the line untouched, with the natural emphases marked and the metrical feet blocked out:

I have been / walking wide, / leaping on the / hilltops, since / the grey dawn / began, nos / ing wind and / weather, wet / grass under / foot, wet sky / above me.

Thats's a more or less consistent string of dactyls (strong-weak-weak) for an entire sentence, ending with a clean trochee (strong-weak) - in keeping with Bombadil's habit of speaking in meter. Dactyls are triple beats, and haiku's 5-7-5 structure only sort of works with them. 5+7 is 12, which divides into four dactyls, but 5+7+5 is 17, which doesn't.

As we see when the hobbits get into the proper mode, their entire cocktail party ends up being sung rather than spoken. Why would we tweak such art?

As much as I admire Mrs NoWiz's diligence and talent, I would also suggest that haiku is inimical to dialogue and to narrative. It seems to fit Tolkien best when it coincides with his nearly matchless flair for describing natural phenomena. Not that I haven't given some findings below that vary from that rule!

Tall peaks of Thrihyrne
Were already dim against
The darkening sky (III.7)

Sky now was quickly
Clearing and the sinking moon
Was shining brightly (ibid)

They understood not
This war nor why fate should lead
Them to such a pass (V.10)

None saw them pass, save
The wild creatures; or here and
There some wanderer (VI.9)

Frodo smelled a sweet
Fragrance on the air and heard
The sound of singing (VI.9)



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 15 2017, 9:56am

Post #6 of 12 (2824 views)
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well... game, versus any artistic insight one might get [In reply to] Can't Post

to be fair, the 'rules' set out in my OP did say that tweaking was allowed. But I appreciate you're making a good point about the art of the writing. 'Tweak' does of course not necessarily mean 'improve' - ask anyone who has had their nose tweaked (well, nearly anyone).

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Aug 16 2017, 12:53am

Post #7 of 12 (2810 views)
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Here's one - [In reply to] Can't Post

It doesn't capture Tolkien's complete thought, but this snippet from a line I posted here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=927786#927786 works...

sons of forgotten
kings walking in loneliness,
guarding from evil


(Hard to make a clean linky on a phone)



(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Aug 16 2017, 1:04am)


sevilodorf
Grey Havens


Aug 27 2017, 6:09pm

Post #8 of 12 (2576 views)
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not Tolkien but in response to your comment elsewhere [In reply to] Can't Post

Words seen by many
Commented on by so few
Make the author sigh

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




SirDennisC
Half-elven


Aug 28 2017, 12:51am

Post #9 of 12 (2546 views)
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Nailed it! [In reply to] Can't Post

Laugh



noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 29 2017, 3:29pm

Post #10 of 12 (2476 views)
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That's a fine one [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien' complete thoughts tend to be too long or too short of haiku, I find - and this is hardly surprising since he was not attempting to be a haiku-ist. It's easier to find an image or short observation: and then whether that's almost an accidental haiku or merely a seventeen-syllable phrase is a matter of opinion!

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


squire
Half-elven


Sep 1 2017, 9:10pm

Post #11 of 12 (2387 views)
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It's tricky to get these things just so [In reply to] Can't Post

As NoWiz says, Tolkien wasn't trying to write haiku, and it doesn't seem to suit him for a number of reasons.

As much as your snippet is evocative, it gums up the sense of the phrase by putting "walking in loneliness" right after "kings", but on the next line from "sons". The result is that the verse suggests it's the kings that walk in loneliness, not their sons - which is not what Bombadil was saying.

But thanks for the contribution, and sorry to be so long in answering (I was on vacation all last week, and the week before I had burned myself out on my own attempts to meet the Haiku Challenge!)



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Sep 1 2017, 10:53pm

Post #12 of 12 (2380 views)
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Yes, yes [In reply to] Can't Post

The line break suggests two groups, perhaps three if "[the] forgotten" are a group, a noun, as "of" seems to imply. Conversely, the comma, left from the original, unites the second and third lines. The whole thing then reads more like a riddle than it does a statement.

Yes gummed up is a fair appraisal. What I've learned from this exercise is that haiku are more about substance than form, in spite of the rudimentary way they oft are explained to students.

Thanks squire!


 
 

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