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"Seventeen Syllables" by Hisaye Yamamoto tells the story of the mental agony of Rosie's mother, Tome Hayashi who was trapped in a loveless marriage.Tome Hayashi was a gifted poetess who specialised in writing the japanese verse form, the haiku. A haiku was made up of seventeen syllables- five each in the first and third lines and seven in the second line. Rosie's father was not appreciative of his wife's poetic talent and was always angry and irritated when she spent time writing haikus. Rosie's mother would publish her hahaikus regularly in the Japanese neswpaper "Mainichi Shimbu" under the pen name of Ume Hanazono. On one occasion she won a poetry contest and the haiku editor of the newspaper Mr.Kuroda came home and personally presented her the prize-a framed painting of a beautiful sea side scene. It was the time for harvestingthe ripe tomatoes and Rosie's father was very angry that his wife instead of helping out in the farm was wasting her time talking to the editor. Rosie's father in a fit of jealous rage smashed the picture to bits and burnt it and walked out of the house. Rosie's mother then narrates to her how she got married and settled down in America. When in Japan she had been in love with a rich man's son and had become pregnant and gave birth to a still born child and since she could not marry him she wanted to commit suicide.But her aunt Taka in America got her married.
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