07 August, 2013

Morning Lecture

morning lecture
only my shadow
knows the way


  1. This haiku is a bit of fun, and has two "layers".

    The first is the immediate impression left by the haiku itself. The morning lecture is a thing of agony, a constant torment for all students from all nations. The haiku expresses that mixture of bewilderment, torment, and despair as the student looks down at the pavement, his shadow more anxious to get to the lecture than he is, perhaps pulling him along with it.

    However, this haiku is actually about something else: I wrote this haiku when on an academic visit to Tsinghua University in Beijing; back in 2007, I was a student visiting the main building of the university shown in the image. Trying to find one's way around the enormous hypercampus that is Tsinghua University was, itself, baffling. My shadow certainly helped me a great deal in those days. I was always lost, and it always seemed to know the way.

    I wrote this particular haiku when returning to Tsinghua University this year, where I was visiting the very same building (pictured) as I had six years previous.

    Except, this time, where I was once the student, [cue Darth Vader breathing] now I was the master.

    I had returned to the same lecture hall, this time as the lecturer. I still failed to find my way around that vast campus, and my shadow, now six years older, still showed me the way. The shadow still looked just as keen. We got to the lecture just about on time.

    The audience probably could not have known why their strange foreign lecturer was smiling so oddly - the truth is that I imagined my young self sat in the back row. How much has changed in those six years.

    This haiku has something of a personal attachment, then.

  2. Any guesses as to which Soviet-era nation influenced the design of the main Tsinghua building? :)


(and thanks)