Jun 20 2019

Gabriel Rosenstock – inch by inch

Published by at 9:48 am under Poetry

inch by inch
by Gabriel Rosenstock

inch by inch
through the trees
— the rising moon

orlach ar orlach
trí na crainn
— an ghealach ag éirí

/ Image by Gautam & Chitrabhanu Chakrabarti /

A haiku today in honor of the recent full moon.

Notice the way this poem unfolds, each short line shifting the frame of our mind’s perception…

inch by inch…

Something is moving oh so slowly, we might even say that it is creeping up. And the phrase, “inch by inch” is so minute that the initial frame of our mental image is minuscule.

But with the next line…

through the trees…

…we suddenly have trees in our minds eye. Our inner vision has widened. It is as if we went from a peering crouch to having to stand back in order to take in the picture.

Then we get that unexpected shift — what we call the kireii or cutting word in a haiku — where the focus of the haiku leaps in an unanticipated direction:

— the rising moon

We’re not really looking at trees at all, but the rising moon behind them.

The frame in our mind’s eye has just slammed wide open to include the moon and the entire night sky. We went from our crouch to standing back to being knocked flat on our backs.

Now that’s a rising moon!

Are you wondering which language the second version is in? This poem is by the great Irish haikuist Gabriel Rosenstock, and he usually writes his haiku in both English and Irish. I’m assuming that most of you, like myself, don’t speak Irish, but try to sound it out anyway. What does the shape and rhythm of the language say to you? Perhaps you will witness a second rising moon in its lines.


New Book on Haiku – Coming Soon

There is another reason I selected this poem today. This is a sort of pre-announcement to the Poetry Chaikhana community that I am currently preparing a new book for publication. The new book — yet to be titled — is an exploration of haiku by Gabriel Rosenstock, a master of the art meditating on his art.

Unlike other similar books that might tend to be scholarly or focused on the technicalities of craft, this is a delightful, often playful look at haiku as a personal practice and a spiritual path — for both the reader and the writer of haiku. Through the eyes of Gabriel Rosenstock, haiku becomes a practice of attention and awareness. It is a way of stepping out of ordinary mind and encountering each moment with openness. Noticing what is overlooked. Walking in the natural world. Recognizing how the minute and the mundane reveals immensities. Ultimately, haiku is the art of presence.

From the book…

What will be the next haiku moment? Anticipation is foolish. Each moment is as unique as your fingerprints, your iris, each second as fleeting as your breath. And a haiku moment can happen at any time. But it will not happen without you. You must be there for it to happen. You must be there, before you disappear. It takes two to haiku, you and the witnessed phenomenon in a unifying embrace.

It can occur in such an intense, pure form that it appears to have happened without you. That brief, piercing insight, that moment of haiku enlightenment, strips you of the thousand and one items that are the jigsaw of your ego, the patchwork of your identity. Then we’re simply jumbled back again into the duality of the world, its conflicts, routines and distractions. But we know that another pure surprise waits around the corner, whatever it may be. The wellsprings of the haiku moment are infinite, bottomless, inexhaustible.


Haiku can be pursued by atheist, sceptic and believer alike. It can adapt to any language, any culture. Someone once asked the former Zen teacher, Toni Packer, ‘Can a leaf swirling to the ground be my teacher?’ Her answer is what every haikuist should know. ‘Yes! Of course! This instant of seeing is the timeless teacher, the leaves are just what they are …’

summer drought —
the dazzling stars
all become pale
~ Marijan Cekolj

I am so pleased that I will soon be able to make this book available. As you can see, its pages are filled with illuminated moments of creativity and awareness. This is a book that should be read in classrooms and meditation halls and coffee shops, as well as all of you wise, wild folks within the Poetry Chaikhana community.

Look for it in late summer or early autumn. I will let you know more as we get closer to the publication date.

Recommended Books: Gabriel Rosenstock

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Bliain an Bhandé – Year of the Goddess Uttering Her Name Haiku Enlightenment Haiku: The Gentle Art of Disappearing
More Books >>

Gabriel Rosenstock, Gabriel Rosenstock poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Gabriel Rosenstock

Ireland (1949 – )
Secular or Eclectic
Primal/Tribal/Shamanic : Celtic

Gabriel Rosenstock is the author/translator of over 160 books, including 13 volumes of poetry and a volume of haiku in Irish and in English, as well as numerous books for children. Prose work includes fiction, essays in The Irish Times, radio plays, travel writing and a novel, My Head is Missing (2012).

A member of Aosdána (the Irish Academy of Arts and Letters), he has given readings in Europe, South, Central and North America, India, Australia, Japan and has been published in various leading international journals including Akzente, Neue Rundschau, and die horen (Germany), Poetry (Chicago), World Haiku Review, Irish Pages, Poetry Ireland Review and Sirena. He has given readings at major festivals, including Berlin, Bremen, Struga (Macedonia), Vilenica (Slovenia), Medellín, Ars Poetica (Slovakia) and twice at the nomadic Kritya festival in India. Rosenstock taught haiku at the Schule für Dichtung (Poetry Academy) in Vienna. Among his awards is the Tamgha I Kidmat medal for services to literature.

He has brought out Irish-langua6ge versions and translations of among others, Francisco X. Alarcón, Seamus Heaney, Rabindranath Tagore, Günter Grass, W M Roggeman, Said, Zhāng Ye, Michele Ranchetti, Michael Augustin, Peter Huchel, Georg Trakl, Georg Heym, Hansjörg Schertenleib, Hilde Domin, Johann P. Tammen, Munir Niazi, Ko Un, Günter Kunert, Iqbal, Michael Krüger, Kristiina Ehin, Nikola Madzirov, Agnar Artúvertin, Walter Helmut Fritz, K. Satchidanandan, Elke Schmitter, and Matthias Politycki as well as Irish-language versions of classical haiku and modern haiku by amongst others John W. Sexton (Ireland), J W Hackett (USA), Andres Ehin (Estonia), Petar Tchouhov (Bulgaria) and Janak Sapkota (Nepal).

Rosenstock is the Irish-language advisor for the poetry journal THE SHOp and a Foundation Associate of The Haiku Foundation. His vast output includes plays, work for TV, novels and short stories, children’s literature in prose and verse, including Irish versions of such classics as The Gruffalo. Recent succesful picture books include Sa Tóir ar an Yeití (Cló Mhaigh Eo) and his retellings of ancient and medieval Indian tales, Birbal (Cló Iar-Chonnacht). He is the Irish-language translator with the new children’s imprint Walker Éireann.

Among the anthologies in which he is represented is Best European Fiction 2012 (Dalkey Archive Press, USA).

His Selected Poems / Rogha Dánta (Cló Iar-Chonnachta) appeared in 2005 and the the bilingual volume Bliain an Bhandé/ Year of the Goddess came out in 2007 (Dedalus). He is the Irish translator of numerous films and TV shows including Watership Down and The Muppet Show. He is also well known as a translator of song lyrics into Irish by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and others and as a translator of plays by Beckett, Frisch, Yeats and others.

Two books on haiku as a way of life, Haiku Enlightenment and Haiku, the Gentle Art of Disappearing from Cambridge Scholars Publishing are available from Amazon. Uttering Her Name (Salmon Poetry) is his début volume of poems in English. Dialann Anama (2007) is an interactive diary drawing on the world’s wisdom traditions, mostly Advaita. The Pleasantries of Krishnamurphy: Revelations from an Irish Ashram, is published by Non-Duality Press, www.non-dualitypress.org.

More poetry by Gabriel Rosenstock

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3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Gabriel Rosenstock – inch by inch”

  1. mariaon 20 Jun 2019 at 4:03 pm

    Well, this is good news! A haiku to savour aloud in 2 languages -inch by inch
    ( doesn’t have the same ring if translated into metric !), in depth
    details on Gabriel Rosenstock’s work, AND the prospect of a new work from you on the haiku as spiritual practice. WONDERFUL. This wannabe wise & wooly , wild folkess sends
    heartfelt good wishes on the project and a little eagerness to see it make its debut in late summer…as the first leaf falls? Please keep us posted and, as ever…thanks.

  2. Dyana S Basiston 21 Jun 2019 at 9:56 am

    Here’s one I wrote. I love haiku, it has been a blessing in these complicated times.

    up the scree
    goat moon

    –Dyana Basist (published in Mariposa 40 spring summer 2019)

  3. Annaon 25 Jun 2019 at 7:58 am

    Hi Ivan

    a star
    a tree
    and the longing in between

    it was my favorite Rosenstock’s haiku.

    There is coming a moment,
    when one naturally ‘sees’ itself
    as a star, as a tree, a moon…and much more
    and the rainbow column between them…
    and the longing naturally dissipates..
    … as well any other longing…

    …words no more fit to express this
    expanded consciousness …

    …our new, old forgotten natural state is becoming
    worldless silence…transparent stillness, listening itself
    and communication is going to another, higher,
    very diffenet level…

    Let pure love write alone your new book…

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