Short Literary Analysis

Climbing the mountain path, I see far down

The paper kites above a castle-town.

With the style of this haiku varying from the traditional haiku, the grouping of words become substantial when trying to dissect the meaning of it. What seems as an innocent stroll up a mountain path takes on a deeper meaning once you starting grouping the words together and relating them to other phrases within the haiku. The writer chose to group words in two to enhance the meaning of each phrase and bring out the little details which would not be present without the helping word. In order to fully understand the haiku in its entirety, these groupings cannot be separated or withheld.

These grouping of words were intentionally created because climbing a mountain path is not the same as climbing up a mountain; seeing far down is not the same as seeing down. These groupings create a sense of movement and distance in a rather short piece of writing. The word far creates an image to see how far down the paper kites are above a castle-town because simply looking down does not tell the story of how high up he actually is. Looking far down implies that he is high up in the mountains which creates this sense of distance.

Castle-towns help to bring everything into context. Upon further research, castle-towns were common during the medieval times. Also, kites were invented by the Chinese who used them to measure distance, test winds, signaling and communications for military operations. The biggest question of them all is who is the person climbing the mountain path and why is he up there. If the significance of the kite correlates with the medieval time-period, there are a few possibilities. It could possibly be someone in the military waiting to be signaled. It could be someone retreating from battle. Or it could simply be a random person who decided to take a stroll on the mountain path.

Now not only do the grouping of words help to understand the haiku, they help to bring context to each other word grouping. Had it not been a castle-town, the other two word groupings would have a completely different meaning. Since castle-towns specifically relate to medieval times, it is logical to connect that and the paper kites together; however, if it is just a castle, the time-period becomes unknown and the paper kite loses its power.

An interesting thing about all of these groupings is how they create distance and movement and how they relate to each other. The paper-kite may be used to measure distance, but the castle overlooks the town surrounding it including the people flying the kites. The person on the mountain path is overlooking all of that. Also, the only thing that is not a man-made creation is the furthest thing up which is the mountain. This creates a sense that nothing can compare to the vastness of nature. However, they also interconnect in the sense that people keep surpassing themselves when trying to reach high. Man created the kite to measure distance. Man created a castle to be tall and able to be seen from far. Without man, there would be no path to climb, making the mountain almost unpassable. All of these interconnected lay out the new heights, both literally and metaphorically, that man has achieved over time.

These words alone will not tell the story of the haiku. In fact, with them together it is still up in the air as to what the significance of the haiku is. But these words as a hole create a picture that is not there if you just dissect each word by itself. Sometimes in analysis, it is not the individual word that makes the difference but grouping of the words in relation to the rest of the passage. Remove one word from this haiku and the meaning of it completely changes. It is true that every word in a haiku has value to the bigger picture, but it is how to choose to view those words that determine how the bigger picture will look.


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