Posts Tagged ‘ Basho ’

Plum Blossoms I | Icebox

Plum Blossoms I

The following is the first part of a recent haibun by Nobuyuki Yuasa (Sosui).

The fragrance of plums —

Suddenly the sun comes up

On the mountain path.                 Basho

Plum blossoms are beautiful, especially in the morning when their colours are highlighted; yet plums appeal not only to the eye but also to the nose. In fact, the scent of their blossoms is their greatest charm. When their aroma is carried on a gentle spring breeze, I am captivated by its nobility and find nothing else capable of rivalling it. In the garden I can see from my windows, white plums are just now coming out — one or two already fully out, but the rest still pinkish-white balls, some swollen and others small. It is plum blossoms at this stage that I love best, for they give us hope and trust in the future. A week from now, they will be in full bloom. Then I can enjoy their fragrance. On warm days, I shall open my windows wide to enjoy it, far superior to any artificial perfume.

I know there are plums

In the recess of darkness —

Deeply scented winds.                  Sosui

 

Source: Plum Blossoms I | Icebox

Area 17: Haiku: Somewhere a clock is ticking – Part One

700,000 olive trees remember the butterfly
Alan Summers
n.b. Eco-killers and the Anthropocene.
Publication Credit:
Bones – journal for contemporary haiku no. 7 (July 15th 2015)
700,000 oliviers se souviennent du papillon
French translation by Serge Tome
Anthology credit: EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2016 Foodcrop Haiku

Source: Area 17: Haiku: Somewhere a clock is ticking – Part One

First Known When Lost: Basho

A cloud of cherry blossoms:
The bell, — is it Ueno?
Is it Asakusa?

Basho (1644-1694).  Ueno and Asakusa are adjacent districts in Tokyo. Ueno was (and is) well-known for its cherry blossoms.  Both districts have numerous temples (and, hence, bells).

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I believe that R. H. Blyth’s 4-volume Haiku is still (more than 60 years after its publication) the best study of the cultural, historical, philosophical, and aesthetic background of the art form.  In his preface, Blyth provides this preliminary definition:

“Haiku record what Wordsworth calls those ‘spots of time,’ those moments which for some quite mysterious reason have a peculiar significance. There is a unique quality about the poet’s state of feeling on these occasions; it may be very deep, it may be rather shallow, but there is a ‘something’ about the external things, a ‘something’ about the inner mind which is unmistakable.  Where haiku poets excel all others is in recognizing this ‘something’ in the most unlikely places and at the most unexpected times.
. . . . . . . . . .
Haiku is a kind of satori, or enlightenment, in which ‘we see into the life of things.’  We grasp the inexpressible meaning of some quite ordinary thing or fact hitherto entirely overlooked.”

R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 1: Eastern Culture (Hokuseido Press 1949), page 8.  A side-note: Blyth’s reference to Wordsworth reminds me that his knowledge of English poetry was as wide as his knowledge of haiku.  The four volumes of Haiku are interspersed with references to English poets and poems.  He also wrote an interesting book titled Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics (1942).

Source: First Known When Lost: Basho

First Known When Lost: A Dream Beneath A Summer Moon

an octopus pot —
inside, a short-lived dream
under a summer moon.

Basho (translated by Makoto Ueda), in Makoto Ueda, Basho and His Interpreters: Selected Hokku with Commentary (Stanford University Press 1991), page 201.

Source: First Known When Lost: A Dream Beneath A Summer Moon

First Known When Lost: Blue

A flower unknown
To bird and butterfly, —
The sky of autumn.

Basho (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 4: Autumn-Winter (Hokuseido Press 1952), page xxxii.

Source: First Known When Lost: Blue

First Known When Lost: Life As A Work Of Art, Part Four: “Heroes Of The Sub-Plot”

” . . . be we hero or heroine (in our own minds), somebody like Keats brings us back to earth:  “Call the world if you please ‘The vale of Soul-making’. Then you will find out the use of the world.”  The Chinese T’ang Dynasty poets and the Japanese haiku poets possessed this knowledge (via Taoism and Buddhism) several centuries before Keats.  (Which is not to fault Keats: these messages are timeless, but it seems that we have to discover them for ourselves.)

Journeying through the world, —
To and fro, to and fro,
Harrowing the small field.

Basho (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 4: Autumn-Winter (Hokuseido 1952).

Source: First Known When Lost: Life As A Work Of Art, Part Four: “Heroes Of The Sub-Plot”

First Known When Lost: A Life

At the news of the nun Jutei’s death

never think of yourself
as someone who did not count —
festival of the souls

Bashō (translated by Makoto Ueda), Ibid, page 393.

 

At the beginning of 1694, the final year of his life, Bashō was living in Tokyo (then known as Edo).  His health was poor.  In April of the previous year, his beloved nephew Tōin, who Bashō had taken into his home and cared for, had died of tuberculosis.  In the same year, he had “begun to look after a woman named Jutei and her three children, although, except for one of the children, they lived separately from him.  Surviving records are vague on Jutei’s identity, but they suggest Bashō had had some kind of close relationship with her in his young days.  Her children, however, do not seem to have been fathered by Bashō.”  Makoto Ueda, Bashō and His Interpreters: Selected Hokku with Commentary (Stanford University Press 1991), page 348.

Sensing that his death was approaching, on June 3, 1694, Bashō set off on a journey to Ueno (his hometown), which is located approximately 350 kilometers southwest of Tokyo.  He intended to see his relatives and friends for the last time.  He arrived on June 20.  Late in July, while still in Ueno, he learned that Jutei had died suddenly in Tokyo.  Bashō never returned to Tokyo.  He died in Osaka on November 28.

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The Japanese word for “festival of the souls” is tamamatsuri. “Tamamatsuri, more commonly known as urabon (the bon festival), is an annual Buddhist rite at which each family offers prayers to the souls of its ancestors.  In Bashō’s time it was held for four days, beginning on the thirteenth of the lunar seventh month.  In 1694, that day was September 2.” Ibid, page 393.

Source: First Known When Lost: A Life