Archive for April, 2008

III

Posted in Haiku, Spring on April 26, 2008 by Gerald

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a spring day we had hoped forー

ricefields & mountains

mountains & ricefields

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At Home with Mt. Fuji

Posted in Haibun on April 26, 2008 by sosui

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Four years have passed since I moved from Hiroshima to Tachikawa. Brought up in my childhood looking at Mt. Fuji, it was my wish to spend my last years admiring the mountain. I had to look around quite a bit, but fortunately I found a suite of rooms in a condominium which was not beyond my means. I live now on the eleventh floor enjoying a superb view. Below my eyes runs the River Tama and far away I can see the range of the Tanzawa mountains. Mt. Fuji fills the wide gap between Mt. Omuro and Mt. Takao and soars far above the other mountains.

I climbed Mt. Fuji when I was a student — only once in my life. I was attending a meeting at a Christian retreat called Tozanso in Gotenba and there met a student from the Philippines, who wanted to climb Mt. Fuji. I volunteered to be his guide. The journey up the steep slope was harder than we expected. Our plan was to see the sunrise from the top, but the low temperature and lack of oxygen forced us to spend the night in a hut at the eighth station. However, it was breath-taking to see the sun come out the next morning and change the whole world suddenly in an eye blink. I can never forget the sight of my own long shadow stretching across the clouds. My Filipino friend was excited about the snow, which he touched for the first time in his life.

Now I am classified by the Health Ministry in the category of ‘post-advanced age’. I satisfy myself, therefore, with just looking at Mt. Fuji from my balcony. Truly, Mt. Fuji has myriad faces. Sometimes it looks far away, at other times very near indeed. Sometimes it looks gentle and mild, at others, very severe and gloomy. Its colour changes, too, from pure white to light blue, and again to deep red. It is quite impossible to describe all the changes of Mt. Fuji throughout the year. It is no exaggeration to say that we can never see the same mountain twice at any time. Mt. Fuji is truly a wonder of natural creation.

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At home with Fuji

Spring, summer, autumn, winter

For the past four years.

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Spotless like silk cloth,

Mt. Fuji purifies my heart

Through and through.

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Mt. Fuji afloat —

A line of geese above it

Departing in the mist.

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The long rain lifting,

Mt. Fuji emerges from clouds

In its light-blue garb.

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The winter solstice —

Sun drops down to Mt. Fuji

Sinking behind its peak.

錣 Neck-plates

Posted in Japanese Classic, Spring on April 24, 2008 by Tito

Lectured to 90 foreign students yesterday on the subject of haiku. One example poem used:

伏勢の錣にとまる胡蝶かな fushizei no shikoro ni tomaru kochou kana

Perched on the neck-plates

Of the warrior in ambush –

A butterfly! ……… (蕪村 Buson)

We agreed this haiku has great tension and a wonderful image contrast. I wonder what Japanese feel about mentioning the word ‘ambush’ in the translation? Is it implicit in the word 伏勢? Does it improve the haiku?

Things spring

Posted in Haibun, Spring on April 17, 2008 by Richard Steiner

Went to Niagara Falls and Washington, DC last week with 18 Japanese, as their translator and America-interpreter: “What is that building over there?”, “Why doesn’t this place have chopsticks?”, and more. Pleasure first at the Falls, then work in the capital. In Canada, I saw no sakura, and the Niagara River down-falls was frozen into huge blocks of ice. Cold indeed. However, in Washington, it was mid-National Cherry Blossom Festival, and them pink things were everywhere. Fabulous. A lot of rain, but none of it in the downpour mode, thank goodness. I couldn’t find the time to write, so on the flight back (13 hours, not one movie worth watching, so it was United’s channel 9 all the way) I penned these, then reworked them at home.

Lincoln and I and rain;
he’s gone, I anon,
sakura forever

Indeed, the Lincoln Monument is fantastic, a must see.

pink views in raintime
the Mall, the art, the power
all bow to sakura

The Tidal Basin is the place to see ten million petals in one glance, but the view from the Mall is equally amazing.

Here is a haiku of the sort which can be read in any line order you please:

in the pink
a light rain
my heart sings
my eyes shine
springtime sakura.

This haiku could take place anywhere in the world where there’s a cherry tree:

petals whorl ’round me
wind caressed, rain kissed,
look up, pink turning to green

It marks the end of the pink season. Returning to Kyoto, I am just in time to see its version of the season, and found this on my lips:

old capital’s, new capital’s
sakura, awesome
all the same

Mist and roar and power

Another Icebox

Posted in Poem on April 13, 2008 by david mccullough

This Is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

     William Carlos Williams

Kerouac’s Icebox

Posted in Senryu on April 11, 2008 by david mccullough

Missing a kick
at the icebox door
It closed anyway.

April

Posted in Haipho, Spring on April 9, 2008 by Hisashi Miyazaki

In the Hira Mountains, beech trees will soon come into leaf, high up above our steps.

At the mountain foot, a lot of edible wild plants – white, yellow, green, brown…

trail

on the unmelted snow –

morning sunrays