“I had an infinite love of this landscape. It is one of those corners of the world which hold a sensual charm for the eyes. One loves such places with a physical love. And we who are seduced by such landscapes hold tender memories of certain springs, certain woods, certain ponds and certain hills: seen often and touching our hearts in the same manner as the happiest of events. Sometimes our thoughts even return to a certain corner of the forest, or a spot upon the riverbank, or an orchard scattered with flowers, seen only once, for one bright day, and planted in our hearts like images of women encountered in the street on a spring morning, fresh-faced and transparent, leaving within the soul and in the flesh an unappeased and unforgettable desire: the feeling of happiness upon happiness.”
The savage mother
defends what she holds most dear
with wild abandon
A haibun for earthweal
When I read Sherry’s essay for earthweal ‘Fierce Love,’ I immediately thought of the story ‘Mother Sauvage‘ by Guy de Maupassant. It is a war story about a mother who takes gruesome revenge for her son’s death at the hands of the Prussian Army during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.
I’ve always been struck by this passage of the story, as it captures so accurately the fierce love for the land which certain people hold in their hearts, contrasted with the fierce love of a mother for her child. I have felt such love for the Lake District where I grew up: a fierceness of love which I now feel for my children, and for all the children of the earth.
Sherry has challenged us to:
“Think of what you love most: the beloved, a child, a fur companion. Then take that fierce love out into the world; introduce us to something in the natural world that you feel fiercely passionate about. Bring your poem of fierce love back to us.“
I have taken the passage from Maupassant and turned it into a haibun. The savage mother of the final senryu could stand for the human defenders of earth, like Sherry and all who stood with her to protect the old-growth forest in Clayoquot Sound in the Summer of ’93, or the earth itself, who may well turn fierce in order to defend herself from the ravages of humankind.
You can read Maupassant’s story in the original French online: La mère Sauvage.
The photograph is of an old burned-out forest lodge I came across when visiting Cerknica lake yesterday. If was scattered with litter and other human leavings. It is not the house of ‘La mère Sauvage.’