Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s assertion has resonance far beyond the worlds of design and architecture. In poetry in general, and specifically the poetry of Japan, “less is more” are words to live by. In a world of 140 character Tweets and cell phone texting aphorisms, perhaps haiku and other short-form poetry will lead this art form to renewed relevance and interest in the attention-challenged digital world.

Thou Greybeard, Old Wisdom, mayst boast of thy treasures;

Give me with young Folly to live:

I grant thee thy calm-blooded, time-settled pleasures;

But Folly has raptures to give.

– Robert Burns

 

I think of the days

Before I met her

When I seemed to have

No troubles at all.

– Fujiwara No Atsutada

 

I dreamed I held

A sword against my flesh.

What does it mean?

It means I shall see you soon.

– Lady Kasa

 

I have always known

That at last I would

Take this road, but yesterday

I did not know that it would be today.

– Narihira

 

No, the human heart

Is unknowable,

But in my birthplace

The flowers still smell

The same as always.

– Tsurayuki

 

In winter I’m a Buddhist.

And in summer I’m a nudist.

– “My Religion” by Joe Gould, as recounted by Joseph Mitchell in “Joe Gould’s Secret”