Terebess Asia Online (TAO)


Hayden Carruth (1921-2008)
Selected Haiku

from "The Clay Hill Anthology"

Fathers die, but sons
catch the grave chill, looking in
at lost forgiveness.

The Sanskrit root word
for “war” means literally
”desire for more cows”.

The Clay Hill Anthology. Iowa City: Prairie Press, 1970. 156 p.
Collected Shorter Poems, 1946-1991. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 1992.


from "While Reading Bashô"

Bashô, you made
a living writing haiku?
Wow ! Way to go, man.

Doctor Jazz: Poems 1996-2000, Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2001, 195 p.

Section V, "Bashô," is in dialogue with a 17th-century Japanese poet who is considered to be the best haiku poet during the time this form was being developed. Carruth's haiku-like poems in this section blend reflections on aging with reflections on writing poetry.


from "The Voice That Is Great Within Us"

Why speak of the use
of poetry? Poetry
is what uses us.

Ah, you beast of love,
my cat, my dove, my spider
-- too late I'm natured.

A hard journey. Yes,
it must be. At the end they
all fall asleep.

Your tears, Niobe,
are your children now. See how
we have multiplied.

So be it. I am
a wholeness I'll never know.
Maybe that's the best.

The Voice That Is Great Within Us : American Poetry of the Twentieth Century, ed. H. Carruth (Bantam Books, 1970), pp. 482-3.