Haiku Palindromes

By Heath, Tim | Word Ways, May 2018 | Go to article overview

Haiku Palindromes


Heath, Tim, Word Ways


Love's Return                         Red Rose does revere                     Volatile babe lit a love,                      Reverse ode's order. 

Pleasurable palindromes

The moment of elation when draft wordplay finally crystallises into a finished palindrome is, most likely, an experience common to all palindromists. With disorder tamed and symmetry restored, it's time for a rest and a beer.

Red Ale                         Red now for a beer,                      Fasting is a sign it's a                       Free bar of wonder. 

Or is it? The temptation often arises to extend the work by insertion in the middle, or addition to the ends. So when is it time to stop? This is just another way of asking what makes a good palindrome. With palindromes, there is of course only one unbreakable rule: it has to be reversible; no almost or nearly, and no grey areas. Beyond this rule, the criteria are subjective, but some commonly reported guidance includes:

* good grammar and spelling;

* avoiding excessive use of:

** acronyms and abbreviations ** apostrophes for unusually omitted letters ** given names; and

* maintaining a constant theme or themes and, conversely, avoiding random or meaningless hopping from one topic to another.

Inspection of the list shows that what should be pursued is simply high-quality natural writing that happens to have an added symmetry feature. However, anyone who attempts such a pursuit soon becomes aware that maintaining a constant theme in a palindrome is in itself an arduous task, and it takes on an added level of difficulty when the first two criteria are imposed. The competing constraints of symmetry, theme and grammar come into ever greater conflict the longer the palindrome. Consequently, and despite their skilful construction, lengthy palindromes can require so many sacrifices that they often become almost impenetrable.

Those who, by experience, find the essence of this analysis familiar may well agree that shorter palindromes are more satisfying in both their construction and their reading. The conflicting requirements are not fully removed, but sharp edges are blunted by brevity. So, short palindromes may be a sensible aim, but why attempt haiku? Doesn't this just add to the constraints?

Haiku

Changing Seasons                                    Liven mutual                            Like summer, a harem muse                                Kill autumn evil. 

Formal haiku comprise three lines containing a total of seventeen syllables in a 57-5 pattern. They commonly have a turning point in tone or meaning, usually at the end of the first or second line, and traditionally have a reference to nature or the seasons. In modern haiku the constraints are often relaxed. (The Wiki-pedia entries for "haiku" and "haiku in English" provide a good introduction to the form. …

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