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In a quick count, I find 48 poems in the unnumbered pages of She Was Just Seventeen, Billy Collins’s new haiku chapbook from Modern Haiku Press, under the editorship of Lee Gurga. Having also counted the syllables of almost all of them, I can observe that Collins, like so many major poets for whom haiku represent a small part of their work, sticks mainly to a syllable-count definition of haiku form. More than half of these poems are in 5–7–5, and almost all of the others are in three lines of five or seven syllables each, totaling seventeen. The most interesting feature of Collins’s take on haiku form is his occasional use of a 5–5–7 syllable-count pattern. There are a dozen or so poems in this format, and they generally interest me more than the others.
"Seventeen Syllables" both begins and ends with a conversation between the mother and daughter, which is the only access the reader has to the mother's passion about writing and her past secrets. Both mother and daughter realize the difficulties in communications between one another, and suspect its dangers, yet they continue to have intimate discussions. Because we are only given Rosie's perspective, we are aware of her reservations. For example, when confronted with the intense conversation between she and her mother at the end of the story, she thinks to herself, "don't tell me now ... tell me tomorrow, tell me next week, don't tell me today." (Yamamoto 390) Although she realizes this could be the end of her world, as she knows it she listens as a way to support her mother. The mothers motive for sharing with her daughter in this way can only be gleaned from Cheung's description of life for these female immigrants. By significantly placing the conversations at...
This casebook includes an introduction and an essay by the editor, an interview with the author, a chronology, authoritative texts of "Seventeen Syllables" (1949) and "Yoneko's Earthquake" (1951), critical essays, and a bibliography. The contributors are Charles L. Crow, Donald C. Goellnicht, Elaine H. Kim, Dorothy Ritsuko McDonald, Zenobia Baxter Mistri, Katharine Newman, Robert M. Payne, Robert T. Rolf, and Stan Yogi.
Free seventeen syllables Essays and Papers
The short story Seventeen Syllables is about how the bicultural life between the immigrant Japanese and the second generation living in America. Rosie Hayashi, the second generation, lives in a farming community with her parents. Her mother Tome lives a somewhat second life at night. After working on the fields with her family, she writes haikus which she reads to her daughter to see if they sound right. Rosie doesn’t understand Japanese well, and has to think it over of translating English to Japanese in her mind. What Rosie learned from her mother was that she could have had a step-brother. Tome was in love with a man in Japan, but then she had learned terrible news which was: “an excellent match had already been arranged for her lover.” She was stricken with grief when she was pregnant with a child that could possibly lead that baby to be a stillborn due to the stress of her depression. It turned to the point of suicide that she asked her sister for help to go to America and find someone to marry, and she married a Japanese man.
Tome’s life is different to Rosie’s when she tries to find something she likes to do, and that was writing haikus. When Tome goes out to see her sister and brother in law, they would talk about haikus for hours on end while her husband could only focus on work. What came to mind is Confucius laws in terms of relationships which started from China in the Han Dynasty. They are the Five Bonds: Ruler and subject, father and son, husband and wife, elder brother and younger brother, and friend and friend. There was a hierarchical system that men are dominate and loyal to their lords while the women are loyal to her husbands and family. This has changed during WWII with women being dedicated to their country and also to their home, like how Tome is. But more importantly, what her husband wants her to be instead of writing haikus and winning the contest which resulted him destroying her painting prize.
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It would be helpful to analyze "Seventeen Syllables" in termsof a double plot: the overt one concerning Rosie and the covert one concerningMrs. Hayashi. Students often relate to the interaction between mother anddaughter and are appalled by Mr. Hayashi's callousness.
Free Essays on Seventeen Syllables by Hisaye Yamamoto
Yamamoto, winner of the 1986 American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Before Columbus Foundation, is a talented and sensitive writer whose work often focuses on the conflict between the Issei (first-generation Japanese Americans) and the Nissei (second-generation Japanese Americans). The two stories collected here are ``Seventeen Syllables'' and ``Yoneko's Earthquake,'' in which the author paints in scant strokes the pain and suffering of Issei mothers through the eyes of Nissei daughters. The accompanying material--interviews with the author, a chronology of highlights from Japanese American history, and critical essays--provides useful background for understanding and teaching the two short stories, upon which Emiko Omori's movie Hot Summer Winds is based. As a more complete collection of Yamamoto's short stories, however, Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories (Kitchen Table, 1988) is a much better buy for most libraries.-- Cherry W. Li, Univ. of Southern California Lib., Los Angeles