Tree of Life (tanka)

Today, Hamish Gunn of Cabin Fever is our Ghost Writer.  He is presenting us with the image of the Tree of Life which he has visited in his past in the desert of Bahrain.

He says: 

"Quite a few times Chèvrefeuille has alluded to the deeper meaning in haiku, and his haiku. Try to bring that into your haiku about the Tree of Life. That deeper meaning is not there in the first reading, or maybe not even in the second. But have it there.
In this haiku by Chèvrefeuille for example, in his 'Carpe Diem lecture 1':

the fence looks bright

in the early hazy sunlight -
crystal cobweb

(c) Chèvrefeuille

We see the intense image, but also a story. Why 'early'? It helps the imagery, but also evokes youth, as does the bright, and therefore freshly painted fence of the new home. The crystal cobweb further nudges the scene of a newly married couple – the precious stone of wedding ring – but the cobweb is the warning, the path that will not be easy, full of traps. The effect, then, is of a wonderful morning in a new home, with cutting, dark edges to the innocent scene."

Hamish invites us to dig deep inside our souls as we write with this prompt "Tree of Life".  This is to be our title we must use to ensure we do not use those words in our haiku or tanka. We are asked to give our verse depth as well as imagery.

Our host has upped the bar with such vivid picture here:

the Garden of Eden,
entrance to paradise,
will there be Bonsai?

© Chèvrefeuille

Tree of Life Bahrain (© Hamish Gunn)

erre le désert en explorant
serpents attardent
béni d’une présence sacrée
ramures et  feuilles enlacent

the hermit
roams the desert in quest,
serpents lie in wait,
blessed with  sacred presence
branches and leaves embrace
seek not alone
branches hold the leaves
ants applaud

© Tournesol 2014

Submitted for: 

Carpe Diem Ghost Writer #24, Hamish Gunn's analyzed a haiku.

Posted by Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, 2014/09/09


  1. Just such a wonderful presentation! I really, very much like both the tanka and haiku, by theme, word chosen, and way of writing - but doesn't the tanka sound beautiful in French! Of course the tanka and haiku go together beautifully, but your tanka is just so beautiful it entrances me, as if in a spell.I simply cannot stop reading it There is so much in it. If I get in a classroom again I would just love to study and discuss it with a group. How I ever hope to compose a haiku or tanka about the Tree of Life after this I don' know! The thought behind your words is so powerful - and beautiful, but the words themselves and timing is sumptuous! I think even the author must see the extent of the quality in her work here! And of course the haiku humbles, gives the answer, the lesson. And indeed I am humbled by the meaning - and sincerely look to it for its wisdom.

    1. I really do not know what to say...your generous words truly touch me. I am on vacation these past few days and this little tanka took a long time to simmer...I had the image in my mind but not the words. And since the prompt suggested deep meaning, I wanted it to mean something for me, then I would know I did well. I am pleased and yes the haiku was not a voulais tout simplement, mettre une boucle autour de ma pensée.

  2. What can I say, here, Cheryl -- this is simply stunning. And even though I don't speak French, it was interesting to fumble through the words and get a feel for it - really remarkable :)

    1. Thank you, Jen, the English tanka is an exact translation:) I am so pleased you enjoyed it...I have to say I spent a lot of time thinking about this one:) thanks again, kiddo:)

  3. The tanka is such a wonderful image -- the serpent is the danger, and yet underneath the tree we have protection. It's not just the tree itself representing life, but what it means protecting others.

    1. So true, Bjorn, so many meanings represented by a tree...this prompt has me thinking this over and over...a wonderful spiritual exercise.


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