“Madonna once would come in dreams to cheer
My slumbers with angelical delight;
But now she brings foreboding in the night,
Nor can I drive away my grief and fear.
And in her phantom-face I see appear
Her own hurt mixed with pity for my plight,
And I hear words that cry above my fright
That the final term of joy and hope is near.
“Does our last evening not return to you?”
She says, “Your eyes were wet and shining when
For the lateness of the hour I had to flee.
I could not, nor I would not, tell you then,
But now I tell you, it is proved and true;
Never again on Earth you’ll look on me.”
Petrarch, Sonnet 212, from The Canzoniere
It’s more than just the Japanese version of suicide, because it’s got the redemption of honor wrapped up in it. In Western culture, suicide is a kind of surrender, or giving up. To some it’s even a crime, bars you entrance to heaven. My impression of hara-kiri is that you are redeeming yourself by removing yourself from other people’s lives, getting rid of the “problem” (you). Also, in the West, suicide is certainly a ritual but not nearly as codified as hara-kiri, which is a kind of sword dance.
I was introduced to the concept of hara-kiri when I watched a biopic of Yukio Mishima (late eighties—would never get made here now). Mishima was a Japanese novelist who made a significant impression on American intellectual life. Again, hard to imagine today.
Mishima committed hara-kiri, or performed it. What is the verb for that action? An action verb I guess.
I’m looking at you, blue bug.
Shrink then, sneak into the curtains
‘cuz they’re blue too.
I don’t care.
I’d rather you go.
But I’ll pretend you went.
Little blue bugs always come back.
They have lots of friends, also blue.
Glossy blue, like an art director painted them
just for this one appearance.
Antennae waving crazy–
God knows why–
Announcing a need, maybe.
get me the hell out of here
I’m watching you,
little blue bug.
Shrinking and hiding
Not very noble
& the legions of bugs behind you
why are they waiting?
Should I look for them,
deny their existence,
prepare to defend?
Antennae can’t answer.
They’re just receivers.
Bug, where’d you come from?
Some worker knocked open a hole in the wall.
Well-intentioned, an older guy, watery eyes, Irish fellow–