Umbrella Party

a haibun by Bo Lille, Denmark

. Typhoon no. 26 is on its way.
. It is raining and the temperature has fallen from 30 to 15 degrees on this October day, as we walk up the Atago Pilgrims’ Path towards Kyorai’s hut. Our umbrellas are dripping with words, and we are both getting wet. A wetness we like. Learned and nice. We smile.
. Stephen-san quotes fine Japanese poems, mostly tankas and haikus, for he teaches literature at University; and I quote Goethe’s Ein Gleiches, the wonderful poem that marks this finest German poet’s famous turn from the “Sturm und Drang” to the “Classic”. Amongst green mountains Stephen points out places of literary interest.
. Words are dripping. We are dripping. We are smiling. There is Basho in the air; Basho, and other poets besides. Typhoon no. 26 is drawing near, but we are smiling.Japan 2013 Basho og templer 213-
. At Kyorai’s hut, we take a composition stroll. I am stunned by the bamboo boar-scarer, a cunning device that makes a regular “click!” and keeps the wild hogs away. I am also fond of the old trees, and the old Japanese style house. Afterwards, we sit down separately, writing notes for haikus. I sit at the doorstep and look at Kyorai’s persimmon tree which has already, much too early, lost its fruits. I think of the story of Kyorai’s persimmons – how he had sold them to a rich merchant, then lost them in a typhoon, and finally had had to pay the money back to the merchant. A sad story of riches that never came to the poor poet. Only a short whiff of money. I wonder if it is the very same tree.

Kyorai’s persimmons —
their dreams falling to the ground
the tree coughs

. We go up into the village for a cup of coffee and cakes sweetened with fresh haikus. Typhoon 26 is approaching. The rain and wind are gaining strength. Poems are dripping from our umbrellas as we go down the path to the station and say good-bye.
. A little later, a friendly Japanese gentleman helps me to my hotel. I leave my umbrella in the umbrella stand and go to my room no. 102 for a cup of tea.
. Typhoon 26 is near.


5 Responses to “Umbrella Party”

  1. I took Bo on a stroll to the House of Fallen Persimmons in Saga, Kyoto on 15 Oct. This haibun is what he sent me in return. Haibun don’t usually make a feature of repetition. However, in this one, I rather like the recurrence of the phrases indicating that the typhoon is closing in. All the wetter! It was indeed a poetic party for two.

  2. margaret mahony Says:

    I felt I was with Bo on his journey, a moving haibun, I enjoyed it. Margaret Mahony

  3. I thank you both for the comments!
    And thank you for the wonderful reception of me in Japan!

    Yours poetically, Bo Lille

  4. Richard Donovan Says:

    Good point, Tito — verbatim repetition isn’t a common element in haibun or haiku, as it smacks of pleonasm, a no-no in a world of verbal economy. Parallels are usually drawn in other ways. But here the repetition emphasises the inevitability of nature’s wrath, and ironically, at the same time, the sense of release that comes from the knowledge of its inescapability. Persimmons fall in the storm, and there is nothing we can do about this fact, except revel in it.

    • I know you are not supposed to repeat too much, but I wanted a “motor” for the haibun, one that takes the drama nearer and nearer to the “us” of the text. And then the parallel between the wind that took the persimmons and the typhoon coming up. – I am glad that you accept the figure of repetition in this text …

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