Saturday, October 6, 2012


For Readers that may be interested in Japanese Haiku,

"It is said of the three most famous haiku poets that Basho is the poet, Issa the conscience, and Buson the artist. I find myself going to Basho to look for the poetic moment, to Issa to comment on what is important and for perspective, and it is to Buson I go to for the art that is always before us in everyday life."

Most haiku poems make do with 3 lines, and the traditional, Japanese poetic form consists of 17 syllables arranged in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables each. For translations the old rules may nor may not be adhered to throughout:

As exampled by this Basho haiku:

Kochira muke
Ware mo sabishiki
Aki no kure

Will you turn toward me?
I am lonely too,
This autumn evening.

This second example is unusually romantic and has the prescript, "Parting lovers." On the morning after a night of passion, lovers put their clothes back on and depart. The last line, imo ga ie, refers to the "dear one's house," (imo) being an intimate term that a man uses to refer to his beloved. Notice this Haiku in Japanese written by Issa is one line (not three) . . .
kinu-ginu ya kasumu made miru imo ga ie

lovers parting--
looking back at her house
until only mist

An example of Buson's Haiku reminding us that white has been an auspicious color in Japan for much of its history. White represents purity and cleanliness in traditional Japanese society, and is seen as a blessed color. The White Chrysanthemum is also a symbol Love or Death . . . Take your pick . . .

White chrysanthemum . . .
before that
perfect flower
Scissors hesitate

There are many variants of haiku, including haiku of four lines (sometimes known as haiqua) or longer have been written, some of them "vertical haiku" with only a word or two per line. These poems mimic the vertical printed form of Japanese haiku my favorite one being: 

she watches
satisfied after love
he lies
looking up at nothing

(Blithe Spirit 10:4, 2000)
And finally a haiku by me, written in the traditional three line 5-7-5 form from my book, Drunken Duck, if translated in Japanese would be more syllables and perhaps linear:

kokoro anbun shiroi yuki no fuyu no shino danpen ka sa re ta tamashii wo motome te i masu 


With half of a heart
A fragmented soul seeks death
In Winter’s white snow

1 comment:

  1. Haiku is my favourite form of poetry. I like this sample of your writing. I will look for your book, Drunken Duck. I look forward to reading it. See you over on that other site that we both belong to.