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A Commentary on Jim Kacian's "just past mauve"

Jim Sullivan

kacian image

just past mauve            paddling hard for a dark shore (haiga)

                       - Jim Kacian, tinywords 11.3, 28 December 2011

There are several themes in this haiku and I would like to break them apart one by one. The surface level has a person on a canoe or kayak with the sky a shade of purple or pink (a picturesque sunset on a body of water) and the paddler is heading "hard" for a dark shore. Sunset in the west, darker shore in the east, maybe storm clouds, it is time to get off the boat and out of the water.

This word mauve and the phrase "just past mauve" speaks to me of another image. I have only every heard the word mauve used in discussing interior wall colors or the color of a woman's dress. Mauve to me connotes culture and civilization and the way well-off people live. The author clearly avoids the words red sunset or something similar. A dark shore has mystery and maybe mayhem lurks close to the distant shore. Someone is paddling hard away from the cultured and predictable world toward the unknown darkness. That someone is not drifting, not floating, but paddling hard. Good and evil ride the tide.

And the more I read this haiku I am reminded of a poem by Dylan Thomas and this line:

" I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

The light is fading, there is a purple/pink sunset, do not go there. Paddle hard for a distant shore. You are not ready for dying, even the mysterious and the unknown is a better alternative.

And to set the commentary rolling in a different direction, suppose the "just past mauve" refers to the paddler. He has had it with culture and home building (he is past mauve) and wants more wilderness in his life. He is paddling hard for some unknown adventure. This haiku has multiple levels, leads the reader on various journeys, and reflects well on the poetry of well crafted haiku.


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