The Kai’ku: a brief what-when of the “but-why?”

bleed slowly through your dreams
the visage is heaviest when the shadow
pierces your masks –

The above is a specimen of a Kai’ku, a lesser known poetic form where the rule is, “aim for a certain number of syllables; if you get it, it’s ok, and if you don’t, then no need to sweat your syllable tree!”

Kai’ku, loosely translated in the Indo-Pakian as “but why?”, is said to have been disemminated by a handful of lesser-known – this is key – mystics going about their un-enlit ways around about the same time as an enlit guy called bodhidharma was bordercrossing Indo-China.

In another account, the origins of Kai’ku have been linked roughly with the time when another enlit – laotsu – bordercrossed, and the gatekeeper requested him to write a little something. Kaikuans would have been least bothered by such inane requests, so this account is less tenable.

7 comments on “The Kai’ku: a brief what-when of the “but-why?”

  1. kenza says:

    I love this! Yes fascinating. Thank you!

  2. Bhaswati Ghosh says:

    The post title made me chuckle. But of course. The verse is lovely. 🙂

    • huzaifazoom says:

      🙂 Thanks Bhaswati. It was one of the few times when I actually woke up with the verse (and then repeated it a few times so that I wouldn’t forget it by the time I got to the keyboard). But it didn’t seem to want to go any further, so I added the tangential ‘context’ 🙂

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