Archive for March, 2011


Posted in Ginko-no-renga, Spring with tags , , on March 18, 2011 by Tito

We had a renga meet scheduled for the 12th, and went ahead with it in spite of the calamity that had befallen the country 400 miles to the northeast less than 24 hours before. We walked and wrote of what we saw in Kyoto, but this seemed to merge with what we already carried in our heads of the horror and grief. We had planned to begin the renga with a verse by Buson about the lengthening day and a pheasant fluttering down onto a bridge. In view of the awful situation, the sabaki used another one. Someone has just written – in an email asking after our group (who are all, we think, safe) – that ‘poetry is prayer’. You may remember, in Basho’s ‘Road to the Deep North’, that his companion Sora wrote at Matsushima (on the coast near Sendai) 鶴に身を借れ ‘borrow the wings of a crane!’ If only everyone on that coast could have done so.

Such as it is, then, with some trepidation, we here share the linked-verse we created, hoping that we might have captured in it somewhere a glimmer of beauty or truth.


The day grows longer –
echoes are heard
in a corner of Kyoto….. (Buson)

Between two gardens
abandoned tiles

Calm corridor –
one step, one prayer
white plum blooming beyond

Struck dumb
by the presence of stones

Again and again
from far across the still pond
one black wave

The silent hills look on
bathed in watery sun

An old lady working
in the woodland field
gives a glance to passers-by

Cold front
shivering dog

Which is the house
their friends lived in?
the couple disputes

Swinging from a branch
a bagworm’s cloak of sticks

Water drips
from a bamboo pipe –
an unknown tune

Two days of rain
two days of melancholy

A polished floor
inside the shuttered room
reflecting nothing

Painted on paper doors
cranes still frolic

The reddish haze
of thousands of buds
against the dim sky

Wayside Buddha
bidden farewell

Our little world –
from it, we search for meaning
in the spring stars


sabaki: Tito with Keiko
hosts: Itsuyo/Yoko
renjuin: Michael Lambe, Keiko Yurugi, John Dougill, Tito, Kazue Gill, Masako Fujie, Anne Vadgama, Yae Kitajima, Itsuyo Higashinaka, Mari Kawaguchi, Akito Mori

venue: Iwakura, including Jisso-in Temple, Kyoto, 12.3.11, the day after the Great Tohoku Quake

Essential Characteristics of Haiku

Posted in Challenge! with tags on March 3, 2011 by Tito

Dear Icebox contributors and readers,

You are invited to take part in a poll (displayed in the righthand side-bar below the  ‘Blogroll’ links) on what you feel to be the three DEFINITIVE characteristics of haiku in English – or at least what they should be! Choose only three from the list, please. The system does not allow the same person to vote more than once, by the way. After voting, whenever you click ‘View Results’ at the bottom of the poll, you will be able to see the number/percentage of votes cast for each category as they build up. Divide by 3 to get the number of voters so far.

I put the same poll up on the British Haiku Society’s online forum site a while back, and have so far attracted about 60 votes (20 people) over there. Once we have collected a worthwhile number of votes here, I intend to begin a dialogue on both sites. Where do you stand? It is a hard choice!

Tito, in Kyoto, at Doll’s Festival (3.3.11)