Archive for November, 2011

The Sound of Water (II): Brooks and Water Mills

Posted in Haibun, Poem excerpt with tags on November 23, 2011 by sosui

.. Several streams of spring water come together, running down a steep mountainside, soon forming a brook, which entertains us with its beautiful cantata as it courses between mossy rocks. Its soprano is like the singing of a dreaming girl, while its bass is like the wailing of a lover. The passing wind also adds a voice, sometimes resembling the soft whispering of a mother while her baby is asleep, and at other times, sounding harsh like a father’s scolding of a mischievous child. Bird songs also provide accompaniment from time to time. The vivace of spring warblers announces the arrival of warm weather. Cuckoos put us to sleep in summer with their monotonous andante. Shrikes warn us with their autumn staccato to prepare for frost and snow. Crows and owls frighten us in winter with their fortissimo. For me, brooks are the source of endless musical pleasures.
.. Here I am reminded of Wordsworth’s description of a ‘rill’ that runs by his birthplace:
…. Oh, many a time have I, a five-years’ child,
…. A naked boy, in one delightful rill,
…. A little mill-race severed from his stream,
…. Made one long bathing of a summer’s day —
.. When I visited Cockermouth, I was impressed by his birthplace, a sturdy stone building, probably the largest in the whole town, but I did not think the rill was deep enough for swimming, nor could I spot the mill. Probably this mill had gone long before and the rill had lost much of its water.
.. I also found ‘a playmate’ in a brook when I was evacuated from Tokyo to a small country village in Hiroshima. I was a middle-school boy, and spent most of my summer days fishing in the brook running by my house. The water was so clear that I was able to see every stone and pebble at the bottom. I could also see fish swimming against the stream, but I soon learned they were not easily caught. In a brook like this, you should hide yourself behind a tree or a rock and cast your line in the foaming part of the stream. If you do this, before the bait sinks to the bottom, you will have a fish hooked on your line. However, I had to spend more than a year to learn this trick. Another pleasure I found in the brook was the fireflies that came out in early summer. I saw them flying in their hundreds above the brook, blinking their lights in unison. They would also sometimes form balls of light on grass leaves. However, it was very sad to see a few latecomers flying away into bamboo thickets at the end of the season. They were like ghosts returning to their graves.
.. As Wordsworth mentions, brooks are often dotted with water mills. Unlike English mills, which are made of stone, mills along Japanese brooks are wooden shacks, and instead of damming the brooks, water is led to the mills via wooden or bamboo pipes. The upper side of these pipes is open, so that you can see the water gleaming as it passes though them. It always amazes me how silently the water can run through the pipes. The mills are equipped either with waterwheels, or with four arms, each with a kind of bucket at the end. While the latter contraptions are more primitive, musically they make more interesting sounds. As the pipe water drops, waterwheels turn with a continuous noise like the rustling of a brush against rough cloth, but the rotating arms provide an intermittent sound as each bucket suddenly dumps its load. In either case, the mills are equipped with wooden hammers that pound wheat or rice. As the hammers rise they squeak, and as they come down, they surprise us with their heavy pounding noise. This is repeated night and day, but the rhythmical sound of such old-fashioned mills never tires our ears.

…. Singing to herself,
…. A girl crosses a log bridge,
…. Leading to a mill.

…. Four flat stepping-stones
…. Split a brook into five streams,
…. Forming a quintet.

…. There was once a boy
…. Who loved to fish in a brook —
…. Swift as a ninja.

…. Dammed by a brocade
…. Of golden and scarlet leaves,
…. The brook stays a while.

…. The brook hibernates,
…. Its stream hardly audible,
…. Laid in snow and ice.

Formal Renku Performance

Posted in Autumn, Event report, Renga on November 19, 2011 by Tito

A number of Hailstone Haiku Circle poets went to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine on October 29th to watch a performance of traditional renku and then a shirabyoshi dancer (Yuriko Inoue) give her own dramatic version of some of the stanzas.  The event was part of the autumn Kokumin Bunkasai being held in Kyoto this year. The sosho (editor) was Seiji Kobayashi and the shuhitsu (scribe), Tadakatsu Wada. In the audience were Raffael de Gruttola, John McAteer, Martin Barrow, amongst others. The last two links (no. 35 & 36) were:

ほのぼのと 明るさ闇(やみ)の 花篝(はなかがり) Dimly perceived / light & shadow / from the night cherry-blossom braziers  (by sosho)

笙(しょう)横笛の 音色(ねいろ)のどけし  The notes of a flute and a bamboo mouth-organ / in tranquil harmony  (by shuhitsu)

Three mid-November haiku

Posted in Autumn, Haiku on November 15, 2011 by David Stormer Chigusa

Today is a quintessentially autumn day in Japan – not so much thanks to the unseasonably warm weather – but because it’s shichi-go-san: the old rite of passage that is a highlight of autumn for children (albeit postponed to the weekend), when they dress up in hakama and kimono and visit the shrine.

Being a landmark mid-autumn date, what better time than to pen a few haiku?

Physical coldness and longer hours of darkness subtly change what our bodies sense, how people behave with each other, and, of course, change how most living things look. These three haiku address each of these things in turn as they’re happening at our place.

 Kitchen window
 Ajar to night’s
 Tart darkness

… … Nights
… … Of no cicadas now,
… … And saved conversations

……  …… Figs aheavy
….. . …… Apples at last, and chalkiness
……  …… On the vine leaves

If the last one sounds implausibly pastoral, it’s referring to our plant-packed balcony.

Miniature apples on balcony.


Posted in Autumn, Haiga on November 7, 2011 by Gerald

Click on the picture to read the poem

From the Icebox inbox – 23

Posted in Autumn, Haiku, Submissions on November 6, 2011 by Gerald

star window mirror star                                           Dana Garrett

ripple of light –
in the silence I hear the rose
unfold its petals                                                       Janak Sapkota

autumn leaves –
the slow striptease
of the red maple                                                      Michael Henry Lee

In the black cat’s
changing eye
September moon

.. 黒ねこの
.. 変る目の色
.. 9月の月                                                                  lawrence jiko