Finding Sekitei

Late November. I climbed Mt. Takamiyama (1,248m, ‘Kansai’s Matterhorn’) on the border between Nara and Mie. Found a little snow at the top, where there’s a shrine to Yatagarasu, the giant three-legged crow, guide of the first emperor, emblem of Kumano Jinja (and of Japan’s national football team). The scene was almost biblical: a mountain ark.
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The Messenger Crow’s Mount —
there below, autumn ranges
north, south, east and west ……………. Tito
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After the descent, took a dip at Takasumi Hot Spring. Of this, another time. The bathhouse receptionist gave me a map, however, on which was marked “Sekitei-an”, a haiku poet’s hermitage elsewhere in the village of Higashi Yoshino. I remembered the name from Blyth’s History of Haiku. Although Blyth has him in Meiji, he is actually one of the best of the Taisho period haiku poets. I began to envisage a Hailstone event there next year. In the meantime, here are two of his beautifully alliterative/assonant verses for the winter season. Happy New Year!
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koshiyuki no / yama mite shouji / shime ni keri
Gazing across
to the snowed-up mountains …
then shutting up
my paper window-screens ……………. Sekitei, 1913

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getsumen ni / samukari no ei / kakari keri
The face of the moon:
in silhouette
flying on through it,
a flock of winter geese …………….. Sekitei, 1951

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One Response to “Finding Sekitei”

  1. Teruko Yamamoto, who has already visited the Sekitei hermitage, sent me the following Japanese description of the two haiku translated above:

    腰雪の 山見て 障子 締めにけり
    寒さが自分の身体に良くないのでしょう。真ん中より下まで雪のかかっている山を見て 思わず障子を締めてしまったー。 寒がりなのかも。

    月面に 寒雁の 翳 かかりけり
    冬の夕方の空に丸い月が出ている、そこへ雁が飛んできてその羽が かかり 翳のようになってとても美しく 高貴な光景に見えたのでしょうか。

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