Sunday, May 24, 2015

Carpe Diem #740 a clam

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's my pleasure to bring another wonderful episode of Carpe Diem's On The Trail With Basho in which we are following Basho in his footsteps. Today's episode a clam is about the last haiku in his Oku no Hosomichi and I love this haiku a lot.

hamaguri no   futami ni wakare   yuku aki zo
a clam
torn from its shell
departing autumn

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

This is the last verse in Basho's 'Oku no Hosomichi' 'The Narrow Road to the Far North'. Because there are several word plays at work here, the Japanese maintain that there is no way for the poem to be rendered into another language. So here goes: hama (beach); hamaguri (a clam) however 'guri' is also (a chestnut) or (a pebble). And that is only the first line! 'Futami' (place name of the port where the famous Wedded Rocks (two large rocks considered to 'married' which are considered to be sacred) are such an attraction) is made up of the words 'futa' (lid, cover, shell) and 'mu' (body, meat, fruit, nut, berry, seed, substance, contents). The word 'wakare' can be either (to part or to split) or (to leave). Added to the last line (departing autumn) 'wakare' can mean either that it is autumn which is leaving or a person who is departing. In Ogaki, Basho was met by many of his disciples, including Sora who rejoined him, for the end of the trip back to Tokyo. This verse, and the second one in 'Oku no Hosomichi' are considered the 'book-ends' of the work with partings of Spring and Autumn.
Awesome! Isn't it! This haiku is a masterpiece.

Wedded Rocks
I love to write a haiku with the same words, but with the other meaning. That will be the challenge for this episode of Carpe Diem On the Trail with Basho. Of course I have to try it myself.

a pebble-stone
taken from the Wedded Rocks
a farewell gift

autumn has gone
the only thing that remains
a chestnut

a jackstone
broken of the Married Rocks
a farewell gift

Wedded Rocks (at sunset)
a chestnut
fallen into the grass
departing autumn

on the seashore
the shell of a hermit crab

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... it wasn't easy, but I think I did well. Are these my masterpieces? Or in Basho's Spirit? I don't know. You, my dear readers, may tell me.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 27th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode, wrapped in a straw mat, later on.


  1. Yoour 2nd and 3th haiku are also masterpieces, around the theme of the chestnut. They have such powerful mood and atmosphere and feeling. So good.

  2. I'm sorry, I made an error, I mean 2nd and 4th, others nice, and hood to read, but those two masterpiece status.
    I am starting to understand, specifically grom your last post, that Basho invented social netwoking, travelling from renga evening to renga evening over vast distances. It seems to me CDHK continues this tradition. If we remain purists, then irony and sarcasm are somewhat absent from haiku alongside subjectivity and intellectualism. This innocence can be beautiful if expressed sincerely. I hope my remark about Basho's social network might reach those who never comment on others' posts, as what ''you'' are doing is negating the history of haiku with respect to the social side. Again, you know who you are.

  3. What a lovely haiku story you've written here Chèvrefeuille, I enjoyed your work very much this morning ... very inspiring!

  4. Thank you so much for an inspiring story and such wonderful Haiku's!!!

  5. Oh my, Kristjaan, your haiku series cascades so a special gift you have found, wrapped with such care and offered to us. Basho would be proud!