At a temple gate

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Green maple leaves —

The bellies of the Deva kings

Imposingly naked.

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*The Deva kings are the guardian gods to left and right of a temple gate.

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2 Responses to “At a temple gate”

  1. More familiar with maple leaves than Deva kings, I did a double take reading this poem, imagining the bellies of the maple leaves imposingly naked. How much whiter– more naked– the undersides of leaves are than their fronts, I mused. Then I realized I had misread the poem and did a quick Google image search, to see the Deva kings for myself– but the pleasurable confusion of images lingers for me… thank you for both readings!

  2. Nobyuki Yuasa Says:

    Dear ellis,
    I found your comment difficult to understand. I do not think the poem allows ‘both readings’. If one of your reading is right, the other must be wrong. Nowadays, it seems a fashion to read too much into a poem, but with haiku especially, the key idea must be always clear. I am afraid your misreading is caused partly because you are not familiar with Deva Kings, and partly because the poem iitself does not explain why the maple leaves and the naked bellies of the Deva Kings are put together. There is a long historical discussion among Japanese poets whether a haiku should have one image or two images. Personally, I believe that when a poem has two images, they should be so amalgamated as to become one image. I am not quite sure if the poem does this.

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