The Poetry of Patrick Blanche

The Magazine of The World Haiku Club
Vol. 1, Issue 2:  August  2001

Haiku Treasure Trove – Patrick Blanche (FR)

We offer a new feature called “Haiku Treasure Trove”. Here we will introduce those haiku and related poems which are excellent but have not seen the light of day.

This lack of recognition can be caused by various circumstances. The most obvious cause is that they are written by beginners, the uninitiated or children. More often than not, they create brilliant haiku, uncontaminated by rules, guidelines and knowledge.

Another cause is that they are poems which do not go along with the fashion of the day or a dominant trend, thereby with haiku editors. Also, innovative or experimental poems have, by their very nature, less chance to be published. Then, there are poems by those who write them for their own consumption and seldom share them except for their close friends. These include people who write poems only in a specific (and sometimes specialised) field such as railways, or Zen, or sports.

One more important source worth mentioning is those non-haiku poets (I decline to use the phrase “the mainstream poets”) who write what they call haiku poems from time to time, which are normally rejected by the haiku camp. We wish to break this silly barrier and try and communicate with them.

In this issue, we have Patrick Blanche who lives in our midst but belongs to earlier centuries rather than 20th or 21st; to the world of Issa and Santoka rather than to the commercially and technologically orientated ultramodern world; to the spiritual sphere rather than to the environment dominated by materialism. There are many who pretend, or wish to belong to such things, but Blanche actually does. He seeks no fame, no material wealth, no speed, no efficiency, no victory, no one-upmanship, no position, basically nothing.

I therefore would not do the introduction of him or print his bio, except to say that he was born in 1950 somewhere in France and now lives somewhere in France, and that he is a poet and an artist. He is loved and respected by those who know him. His verses speak for themselves.

The following selection is taken from Patrick Blanche’s hand-made anthology, The Toad’s Song, a collection of his poems translated from French into English by his closest friends with love and care.

SPRING

Starting spring
A line of cyclists
rides across Sunday

to Makoto KemmokuMimosa flowers
springtime is already here
We are getting old
First butterfly
just time to catch the shadow
of its passing wings
Enjoying the silence
between two air-raids
Cherry harvest
Widening circles
The frog has vanished
into the pond’s depth
Perfect liberty
Dandelion in the wind
explodes into seed

The great nettles too
seem to be so excited
Scent of spring time

So light the willow
Today even the least word
would weigh too heavy
Lost in town
a butterfly dies
caught in tar
He mows his lawn
beheading a thousand suns
Dandelions’ end

SUMMER

Summer dusk
The toad’s song answers
the cicada’s screech
Honeysuckle in bloom
Slugs are going their way
and sometimes they cross

Rare moments of calm
when the fridge is silent
you can hear the wind

Perfect silence
even the ants are resting
Midday in Provence
Bird house
day by day became
a house of spiders
Grasshopper in the gutter
left to the feasting ants
End of summer

AUTUMN

And again
listening to the autumn light
Unable to say a thing
to Raju Chhatry

Time is suspended …
before the candid whiteness
of the morning glory

Waking from sleep
eyes on the chrysanthemum
So simple is life

White morning glory
trumpeting its whiteness
to who will hear it
Attached to brambles
traces of dew glitter
A breath of light
Birds by the hundreds
A distant woodpecker’s beak
hammering dawn
A riot of ivy
Not moving, the traveller
listens to the blackbird
Alone at the hermitage
with wood to last the winter
And a chrysanthemum
The master is gone
but the banana leaves still
rustle in the breeze

WINTER

First snowfall
on the chrysanthemum
White touching white
And now the season
of endless nights returned
Faded chrysanthemum
Simple winter event
Sleeping on old cardboard
a vagabond: dead
Just what it needs
some snow in order to bow
white chrysanthemum
Raindrops one by one
fall from the washing-line
There are no more leaves

A dull drone of
an airplane weighs on the night
December settling in

To end as hermit
in frost-covered mountains
where crows are calling
Gluing together
broke n pieces of their lives
Couple in winter
Growing older
a hand on my wife’s
bare flesh…..Winter night
Winter…..A ladder
that leads nowhere
against a dead tree
to Laura Verhulst

Clouds drifting along
endless roads of winter
A lone vagabond

Nothing much to give
only this passing moment
Winter stillness

A departing year
The white chrysanthemum
has changed colour

NEW YEAR

New year’s Day……..A dog
left alone outside the house
crying in the snow
Soaking salted cod
for the New Year dinner: a
smell of the ocean!

ALL SEASONS, OR MUKI (NO SEASON)

The dog, left alone,
after his master’s suicide
rummaging the trash
That bunch of flowers
flattened on the main street
who was it for?

The magpie perched
at the top of the cypress
sways with it

A real grain’s feast!
These little hands of the rats
so alike ours

ON THE HAIKU PATH

“The age-old calm of the days that simply mind the rules set by the four seasons”  – Pierre Mac Orlan –

Autumn light enters the kitchen where the fire is purring. An ordinary existence. Yet the banality of everyday life makes the miracle of being recur at each instant.

Humble tasks: chopping wood, lighting the fire, pouring water on the coffee-grounds. To hear the kettle simmering or the hum of the fire as it suddenly flares up. To lift one’s eyes to the sky and thank creation, once again.

Peace, tranquillity, even joy, are quite near. To learn each day anew the humility of acceptance and thus continue to wonder at the world, even if man sullies it with his over-flowing ideas.

Joy is our natural state; we must be on guard against our worst enemy: our own mind and its mixed-up contradictions.

The beauty of existence glows most intensely when the quest is over.

What a miracle, the golden hue of this autumn leaf!

Nature, our innermost being, will forever bear with us.

To walk in the hills or in public gardens surrounded by fraternal trees: they have so much to give to the unassuming.

To marvel at one’s own breath. Ah! To simply breathe …

The spirit of Nature encompasses everything – even the smallest creature reflects its light.

Nothing is mysterious within this spirit, nothing is hidden or difficult to grasp. It is the evidence of being.

In these troubled times when men huddle in cities, times of conceit and haste, we human beings in a declining civilization are very proud to have sent our pretentious machines to the moon, our sister, and flatter ourselves that we can span the earth in a few seconds, thanks to our modern inventions. Perhaps we should instead remain quietly seated, doing nothing at all, and contemplate the moon, listening to the rustle of the wind in the bamboo or the poplars, attentive to the leap of the frog into the old pond or simply be happy to hear the cuckoo singing in the spring.

Extraordinary things are hidden in the most ordinary.

To be able to wonder at banality, what a gift!

……………“Near a furrow,
…………………by a rain-puddle,
…………………………A toad was looking at the sky”

wrote Victor Hugo.
(Provence, November 1998)

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This entry was posted in Haiku, Vol 1-2 August 2001 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Poetry of Patrick Blanche

  1. vind de haiku s van patrick blanche heel bijzonder. Zou heel graag willen weten waar hij woont en hoe hij leeft. Waar zijn de bundels te koop? vind het prachtig. Resi roelofs. Roelofs.r@home.nl

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