H. F. Noyes Has Died: 1918 – 2010

H. F. Noyes

H. F. Noyes (Tom to his friends) died in April of this year, in Athens, Greece, where he had been living since 1970 in semi-retirement as a Gestalt and Jungian psychotherapist. The American poet and editor wrote prolifically all of his life until his death sometime this April.

I feel that his poems of the  last eight years have been exceptional in vision, tone, diction, originality, and subject matter. His work will prove that he was one of a handful of great poets writing in English, in our time. As a consistent reader of several haiku periodicals, I would thrill coming to one of his poems or essays, as I would discovering a flower, a temperature, a sudden rain, in an unexpected place at an unexpected time.

He once wrote: “Let us on our haiku journeys, in the words of the great Persian poet, Rumi, wash ourselves of ourselves. And through this ego-cleansing we can then hope to experience Nature’s wholeness through the wholeness of our own nature.”

In Modern Haiku (2008, 39:1 p125) H. F. Noyes wrote: “Re definitions of haiku, I honor Basho’s, ‘Do not follow in the footsteps of the ancients. Seek what they sought.’ If they could speak from beyond the grave, Basho, Buson and Issa would caution that a haiku is not a product of mind, but of heartmind. The most precious ingredient in a haiku that ingratiates itself with us is likely to be spontaneity . . . an unselfconscious catching of the haiku spirit as it flies. The depth reflected is chiefly through afterthought in readers’ minds. The writer is content to convey a sense of wonder.”

In Presence (#28, January 2006, p12), the British haiku journal edited by the eminent poet, Martin Lucas, in an essay entitled “Haiku and Reality” Noyes wrote: “It is simple down-to-earth everyday reality that more than anything else makes us aware of  the goodness and truth of life. The very briefness of  a haiku gives it the highest potential in all poetry of non-interference with the spring of our being through unalive ideation.”

Difficult to choose, nevertheless these are two of my favorite haiku (published in Presence 2007 and Modern Haiku 2007, respectively) written by H. F. Noyes ~

children playing at tennis        the net gets in the way

moonlit snowflakes
floating into the cage
of the silver fox


~ yours truly, df

For more information on his life and an excerpt from his 1981 Autobiography, please visit the American Haiku Archives.

    • Tenzing
    • November 1st, 2010

    hey donna,

    googled for ‘h. f. noyes’ and found your good words about my old friend tom, thanks. he was such a good friend to so many, and a haiku ‘appreciator’ [as he called himself ;] for the ages. i think he was instrumental in my development as a poet, and maybe as a human being too because tom, tho no man’s fool, was among the most kind and generous of people i’ve known. we exchanged hundreds of letters since we first got acquainted, in 1998, but only met once, at his home north of athens, in the greece we’d both fallen in love with, in winter 2002. i came with a flower and a haiku

    flower market–
    a poinsettia
    to warm his room

    and left with a copy of yasuda’s ‘japanese haiku’ filled with tom’s notes and underlines [and now with mine ;]

    thanks for being there, glad we’ve shared admiration for this great man.

    • Tenzing, glad at heart to receive these words from you. I came to H. F. near the turn of the century, later than many established poets in the haiku movement, yet it only took one poem to start reading more and more. And so my connection to his work seem old and new at the same time. I still feel bereft, naturally, yet the warmth of your sharing here, your poem gift, well, they make a real difference. Joyful to know that a beloved friend of his, one the likes of you is still on this side! warmly, Donna

  1. Lovely, informative tribute you leave us bereft here, D. Thank you. Oh, i just read your above response to another griever and you use the word ‘bereft’ too. It’s probably the only appropriate word — haiku? — possible in this Noyesian context. I recall the other Noyes poet with highschool affection. THE HIGHWAYMAN galloped right through my pulse and impulse systems, through my entire adolescence, in fact. This Noyes was of a quieter, more ruminating (roominating?) confection. For us who have patted our adolescence on the head, like the adults we have become. I will refrain from adding a haiku as i find his good for at least a week’s reflection. Just a question: Narcissus sees and looks longingly at his reflection without reflecting upon it. I bet Noyes gave that a thought or two. I’m punned to death, my apologies. And shall miss him, the no-noise Noyes.

    • I’ve just read THE HIGHWAYMAN by Alfred Noyes, for my first time and on your account. Full of Faulkner’s sound and fury. What a treasure trove for an adolescent imagination. And the unforgettable twin images —”And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat.” and “Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own blood! . . . . “Bess, the landlord’s daughter, / Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.” Thank you, Marya. -Donna

    • snowbirdpress
    • September 10th, 2011

    I have so many wonderful letters full of the most amazing insights from this warm friend. He is greatly missed here…for sure. Sometimes I felt like he was a kindly father guiding me in the early years…opening doors…encouraging me to reach out and greet others in this great world of literature and philosophy…

    • You were fortunate to have built a friendship with him, Merrill. And, I’m certain he felt likewise. Also, I shudder to think that if he hadn’t helped you learn to “reach out and greet others in this great world of literature and philosophy . . .” I wouldn’t have come to know you. All’s one. ~ Donna

  1. October 24th, 2010

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