Archive for February, 2011

Finding Haiku in Ishikawa

Posted in Haipho, Japanese Classic, Spring with tags , on February 27, 2011 by Tito

The dust so deep
on the Chiyo-ni postcards –
first visitor of spring.

(Shokoji, Matto, Ishikawa, 23.2.11)

梅が香や何処へ吹かるる雪女 (千代尼)

The scent of plum-flowers –
the snow-woman’s ghost,
to where has it blown? …. (Chiyo-ni)

With Kaz, I recently visited several haiku sites in Ishikawa prefecture  – Yamanaka Onsen, where Sora left Basho after months of travelling the Narrow Road 奥の細道 together; Matto, where Shiko’s disciple, Chiyo-jo (later Chiyo-ni), lived and wrote; and Osugi, where our playwright friend, Gart Westerhout, has been rewriting all the haiku history of his area with a series of musicals, the latest of which is to be performed in Gateshead, UK on March 22nd. In it, thanks to Sora’s intervention, a novice Matsuo Basho wins a prize in the Ito-en Oi Ocha New Haiku Contest!  http://osugimusicaltheatre.com/ (and see Others’ Contests/Promotions page).

from the Icebox inbox – 19

Posted in Haiku, Senryu, Submissions on February 24, 2011 by Gerald

acorn season
a hollow sound comes
from the Buddha’s head

.. Michael Henry Lee

Pillars of sparks
from the shrine’s courtyard
give birth to stars

.. Ted Taylor

for the New Year
taking a day at a time…
a calendar

.. Keith A. Simmonds

Interdicted zone –
Smackheads pelt the bardic dunce
With pointed pebbles.

.. Kamome

Melting Snow

Posted in Haiqua, Winter, Workshopping on February 11, 2011 by Tito

.

A veil is shed

From the distant Paps of Ohara:

The jay knocks down

More melting snow.

(Mount Ogura, Kyoto, 11.2.11)

More Classic Stuff

Posted in Haiku, Japanese Modern, Poem on February 9, 2011 by Richard Steiner

You’ll remember that I was editing some translations of Santoka’s haiku and shared a few with you all. Here’s more, plus a bonus of works by Hosai, Santoka’s contemporary, and a lovely Chinese poem I wrote long ago when my name was Liu Tsung Yuan.

Santoka’s 8 haiku:

A dragonfly atop a sedge hat; I just walk on.

On a rainy day, walking barefoot thru my hometown.

Into my iron bowl also falls a shower of hailstones.

His back soaked by the rain; still, he just walks on.

In a rain shower, I walk to a nearby mountain.

Santoka was the prime modern example of Walking Zen, following Ikkyu’s example set in the Muromachi Period, tho S. only walked for a few years, whereas I. probably walked for over 20.

At a loss what to do, I walk alone on this country road.

Thinking nothing, just tasting the water gushing from a wayside spring. (Is this zen, or what?)

When the leaves begin falling, the water will become tasty.

Hosai’s 6 haiku:

I have a loud cough, all alone in this quiet hut.

Such a bright moonlit night; in bed alone, still I can enjoy the view.

I can see a little of the sea through a small window, the only one in my hut.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Day; only Buddha and I will greet it in this lonely hut.

The pine’s branches are all hanging down; I chant the Name.  (the Name of Amida Buddha, presumably.)

Winds singing thru the pines; at dawn and at sunset I toll the temple bell.

Hosai passed away almost 20 years  before Santoka. Both were recognized in their lifetimes to be superior poets.

An old Chinese poem: ‘On a Snowy River’

Birds have ceased wheeling thru the mountains,
Footsteps are no longer seen on any snowy path.
An old man, strawclad, is seated in a small boat,
Engaged in fishing alone on the snowy river.

Such nice morsels to chew on. And here’s a haiku written with the name, Richard:

Beside the winter river
neither birds nor fish are seen;
nothing beside myself.

Maudlin to  be sure; must be the influence of some earlier poets. But hearing the call loudly in my ears for contributions, just had to pen something out.

The Woodchopper

The Meaning of the Mount

Posted in Japanese Classic, Japanese Modern, News, Winter with tags , , on February 8, 2011 by Tito

Here is the link to click for a listen to Stephen’s BBC Radio programme about the literary heritage and present grim state of Japan’s Mount of Poetry, Mt. Ogura in Kyoto. This mountain was the subject of Hailstone’s most recent book, One Hundred Poets (see Publications page). The name of the programme is The Essay: The Meaning of Mountains: 1. Japan, for it is part of a five-part series. You can probably hear them all at this site for another week, possibly more. The programme itself begins 1 min. 15 secs. in (fast forward) and lasts just under 15 mins. Please enjoy listening to waka and haiku by Tsurayuki, Saigyo, Teika, Basho, Shugyo Takaha, Sachi Amano, and three Hailstones – Nobuyuki Yuasa, John Dougill, and Tito!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00y6hwp/The_Essay_Meanings_of_Mountains_Japan/

石仏の首から首へ虎落笛(もがりぶえ)

About the necks
Of stone Buddhas in a line,
Winter wind
Whistling like a flute.

鷹羽狩行 Takaha Shugyo

Waterside Birds, Part V: Ducks, Grebes and Snipes

Posted in Haibun with tags , , on February 4, 2011 by sosui

I must not forget to add a few words about ducks and snipes, though their species are too numerous for me to cover them all. In general, male ducks are more colourful than female ducks. The mallard is a typical case. Female mallards are modest brown, but males have bright green on their heads and tails. Generally speaking, ducks will mate for life. In Japan, we have an expression, ‘a couple like a pair of mandarin ducks’, meaning ‘a mutually loving couple’. It is indeed a lovely sight to see a pair of mandarin ducks swimming together. During my childhood, when food was short, many people used to keep ducks. Their noisy cries were irritating at times, but when I felt discouraged they somehow gave me fresh power. Their eggs were twice the size of ordinary eggs, and very nutritious. Dusky mallards are often seen in parks and rice fields. It is good to see them leading a line of newly-born chicks.

Grebes have two different names in Japan, nio and kaitsuburi. In English also, they are sometimes called ‘dip-dapper’. This name seems to have a lot in common with the Japanese names, suggesting their habit of dipping their heads into water. This bird is known for making a floating nest out in a lake. Basho has the following poem about this bird.
….. Early summer rain,
….. Let us now step out to see
….. Grebes’ floating nests.
His own comment on this poem in Sanzoshi is, “There is no haikai quality in the words of this poem, but you may find haikai spirit in the eagerness to go to see the floating nests!” What Basho is really saying, I believe, is that it is important to have a fresh approach to the rather conventional image of the floating nests, already too well-established in the tradition of waka as an image of the flimsiness of our own life in this world.

I once rented a house next to a lotus field, which gave me the pleasure of seeing the beautiful flowers opening and raindrops rolling down their enormous leaves. In addition, I was able to see, on summer mornings, a snipe walking about with a few young. Unlike the dusky mallard, the female snipe has brighter colours than its male counterpart, as it is the male’s duty to look after the chicks. It is a very timid bird, trying to avoid attracting human attention. At night, though, its sharp cries used to alarm me, until eventually I got used to them.
….. In the dense darkness
….. A sharp cry of a snipe
….. Stabs me in my breast.

(Nobuyuki Yuasa)