Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Basho Revisited, a wild boar

Earlier in this series I mentioned that Basho was gay. In a lot of his haiku being gay was the theme. In his lifetime it was commonly known that in the world of arts homosexuality was normal and accepted. In this episode I will, for the last time, talk about haiku by Basho in which his being gay is the theme.

inashishi no   toko ni mo iru ya   kirigirisu

a wild boar
does it get in bed with
a cricket?

kiko no kaya   nara wa iku yo no   otoko buri

scent of chrysanthemum
Nara a long time ago
a handsome man

This one was included in a letter to his disciple Sampuu. Is he talking about Sampuu or about a man he had met in Nara?

sono nioi   momo yori shirashi   suisen kana

their color
whiter than peaches
a narcissus

This was the greeting verse given to Hakusetsu, the village headman of Shinshiro at a renga party for 12 poets. He had two sons, 14 and 11 years old, which Basho gave, in his manner, his name of when he was young (green peach) which was a sign he was highly attracted to them. The Japanese peach has a nearly pure white flesh. (Source: Jane Reichhold's Old Pond: Basho's (almost) thousand haiku).

han jitsu was   kami wo tomo ni ya   toshi wasure

for half a day
my friend turns into a god
end-of-the-year party

This was the "hokku" of a renga held at the home of Ogurusu Yugen, the Chief Priest of the temple located in the northwestern part of Kyoto.
The title of this haiku (a commonly custom) was 'A Year-End Renga Party".

yuno nagori   kayoi wa hada no   samukara n

tonight my skin
will miss the hot spring
it seems colder

This one Basho gave to Toyo, the son of the inn-keeper of Yamanaka Hot Springs, to whom he was greatly attracted, upon his farewell.

Yamanaka Hot Springs

maegami mo   mada wakakusa no   nioi kana

the boy's bangs
still has the smell
of young grass

The preface of this verse: "Hokaku asked for my writing on a folding fan".
Well ... this one encloses this episode in which I stood still by Basho's preference for man.

ultimate love
flowers and bumblebees
ripe cherries

Until next time.

This wasn't an easy one to write.

Basho Revisited, a river breeze

Also published for: The Gooseberry Garden Poetry Picnic

And for: Poets United The Poetry Pantry

In some of Basho's haiku he refers to himself as part of the scene or looks to the scene from a distance. Not very common for haiku poets. It isn't done to be part of your own haiku as haiku poet, but rules are there to be once read and than to forget them immediately.
In the following haiku he does both. He is part of the scene, but is also watching it from a distance. I think it's a great way to write haiku (unless it wasn't common).
This "not being part of your own haiku" is still in our times one of the rules. Rules? Basho once said: "Know the rules of writing haiku and forget them immediately". Well ... that's my way to write haiku. So I 'forgot' the rules of the classical haiku and embraced the rules of the Kanshicho style in which Basho wrote his haiku between 1683 and 1685. In that style the syllable count is different and less important. But as Basho said: "Forget the rules immediately". Well I can say "forgetting the rules feels good and makes my mind free". With that thought I have written all my haiku in this series of Basho Revisited.

kawa kaze ya   usu gaki ki taru   yu suzumi

a river breeze
the one wearing a light persimmon robe
enjoying the coolness

Basho wrote a preface to this haiku. (Source: Jane reichhold's Old Pond: Basho's (almost) thousand haiku).
"Enjoying the cool breeze on the bank of Shijo, an observance is practiced from the beginning to the middle of June. A special floor is set up right on the river, and people enjoy drinking and eating all night. Women tie their sashes correctly tight, and men wear their formal long coats. I see even the apprentices of a cooper and the blacksmith. They seem to have too much leisure time, singing and making noise. This is probably a scene which can only be seen in the capital (Edo, now called Tokyo).

observing the crowd
having fun on the seashore
almost naked

I love the full beaches in summer. Everyone has fun enjoying the warm summer and the coolness of the sea.
Children laugh making sandcastles, grown ups reading, playing, drinking, eating and laughing. Summer is a wonderful season and I think ... everyone enjoys it.

Until next time, sincerely,

Have a great summer! :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Basho Revisited, missing it

Also published for: Haiku my Heart

Sometimes I read a haiku of Basho that I find beautiful in its image and simpleness. So like Basho. Just a haiku about, for example, viewing a lake
The next one is such a haiku.

yuku haru wo   omi no hito to   oshimi keru

departing spring
along with the people of Omi
missing it

Omi is situated on the southeastern shore of lake Biwa. It's known for his old castle Omi Hachiman and goes back to the 16th century. Omi is very known as a center of commerce thanks to its location near Kyoto on the east-west transportation route, and its strategic position as a center of water transport on Lake Biwa. Merchants from the area were known as Omi shonin and some of them became very famous for their success.

Credits: Lake Biwa
Lake Biwa was well known of his beauty and the wonderful nature around it.
Basho stands viewing this lake accompanied by the people of Omi at the beginning of summer or at the end of spring. He's so in awe that he misses the feeling which belongs to the departure of spring.
A haiku with the feeling of sadness, but also with happiness. In my opinion a well balanced haiku on the thin line between spring and summer.

at the seashore
wind of summer through my hair
the shortest night

Awesome! Isn't it a beauty (how immodest) this one on the thin line between spring and summer. It's a wonder. In my opinion a haiku in Basho's Spirit (and one of my masterpieces).


Basho Revisited, wings of a butterfly

I love butterflies, they're so fragile and I find them very beautiful. However I didn't write a lot of haiku about butterflies. I don't know why, but it could be a lack of inspiration.
In this series I have used a haiku by Basho in the episode orchid fragrance which he wrote for a woman named Butterfly when he was asked for.

ran no ka ya   cho no tusubasa ni   takimono su

orchid fragrance
from the butterfly's wings
scenting the clothes

In that episode I didn't gave a new haiku, but an old one that I once wrote for a friend. So I will write a new haiku right now inspired by the above one.

in the Buddleia
fluttering of fragile wings
waving on the wind

Another one:

waving on the wind
butterflies resting in the sun
on the Buddleia

Credits: Butterfly on the Buddleia
Back to this episode. In this episode I will look at a few haiku by Basho  in which he used butterfly as season word. (A season word is particular for one of the seasons, butterfly is a season word for summer).

cho no ha no   ikutabi koyuru   hei no yane

wings of a butterfly
how many times do they flutter
over roof and wall

kimi ya cho   ware ya Soji ga   yume gokoro

you are butterfly?
I am Chuang-tzu's
dreaming heart

Chuang-tzu is a well known classical author of China and Basho wrote this one for one of his friends named Dosui who was an enthusiastic reader of Chuang-tzu's work. According to Jane Reichhold however this one is an unconfirmed haiku by Basho.

Another butterfly haiku:

cho mo ki te   su wo suu kiku no   namasu kana

a butterfly also comes
to sip the vinegar from mums (*)
and pickles

(*) mums is short for Chrysanthemums

Credits: Butterfly on Chrysanthemum

With this one came a preface: 'While I was staying in Awazu, a man who liked tea ceremony very much, invited me and served vinegar boiled chrysanthemum flowers picked from a nearby beach'. He wrote this one for his host, a physician.

okiyo okiyo   waga tomo ni se n   nuru ko cho

wake up wake up
I want you for a friend
sleeping butterfly

This one is discussed by several authorities and they came to the conclusion that this one must be seen in relationship to the famous story of Chuang-tzu who dreamed he was a butterfly and then wondered which was real, his dream or his life as a human. (Source: Jane Reichhold's Old Pond: Basho's (almost) thousand haiku).
Others say that this haiku refers to one of Basho's (male) lovers. The truth will stay in the middle I think.

A last example of haiku on butterflies by Basho:

cho no tobu   bakari nonaka no   hikage kana

a butterfly flies
only in the field
of sunshine

What an awesome picture. A tiny butterfly dances in the wide field in the light of the sun.

Because I love the butterfly haiku by Basho. I will give another example. This is an impromptu verse.

monozuki ya   niowa nu kasa ni   tomaru cho

how curious
on grass without fragrance
perches a butterfly

Well ... I rest my case :-) All wonderful haiku by Basho about butterflies. To write myself a new one in the Spirit of Basho will not be easy, but ... I have to do what I have to do.

the cobweb scattered
by the fluttering of wings
a blue butterfly

on the verandah
a yellowish butterfly
the light of sun down

Butterflies ... I love those tiny creatures, so fragile and yet so strong. I bow my head and thank the Gods for the butterflies.

Sincerely, 'till next time.

Also published for: Haiku my Heart

Thanks for passing by :-)

Basho Revisited, a bush warbler

Basho knew his classics and used that knowledge frequently in his haiku. The following haiku is, as Jane Reichhold says, a pseudo-science haiku.
Let us look at the haiku on the Bush warbler.

uguisu no   kasa otoshi taru   tsubaki kana

a bush warbler
has dropped his hat
a camellia

Taiwan Bush Warbler

In old (classic) poems (e.g. waka) there was a phrase about the bush warbler (looking similar to our cuckoo) stitching a hat from plum blossoms. Basho changed the hat to a camellia and had the bird dropping it - which was much more natural than stitching. If birds wore hats the camellia would be the right size and shape.
Maybe you can visualize the picture of the bush warbler wearing a camellia for a hat. It looks like a cartoon I think, but why not.
Humans wear hats so why shouldn't birds and animals don't wear them.
Maybe you lost your hat in a storm or something, so also the bush warbler could lose his hat in the storm or dropping it.

a gust of wind
a hat tolls around and around -
camellia flower

Pink Camellia

A haiku with a smile? I think so ... maybe a senryu?