Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques #22 double entendre (double meaning)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As I started to make the preparations for this new series of CDHWT I didn't realize that there were 13 wednesdays to go instead of 12, so I had to make an extra choice for a HWT. This HWT I choose was this one "double entendre" (or "double meaning") and I for sure think this is a wonderful HWT to use.
Maybe you can remember the haiku in which Basho refers to a certain part of the male body as he wrote about "morningglory", that haiku is an example of this HWT "double entendre":

ought one laugh or cry
when my Morning Glory
withers up

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

I will tell you a little bit more about this HWT, and as you all know I have the opportunity to make these CD-HWT episodes, because of the granted permission by Jane Reichhold.

Anyone who has read translations of Japanese poetry has seen how much poets delighted in saying one thing and meaning something else. Often onlt translators knew the secret language and got the jokes that may or may not be explained in footnotes. In some cases (as in the above example by Basho) the pun was to cover up a sexual reference by speaking of something ordinary in such a way that its hidden meaning could be found by the initiated.

Another example by Basho can give you an idea about this HWT:

forbidden to say
how sleeves are wetted
in the bathroom
© Matsuo Basho
Basho wrote this haiku on Mount Yudano (meaning: bathroom). On this mountain was a spectacular waterfall which had been a Shinto place of worship since early times. Only men could visit it and only after a rigorous climb with several rituals and services in various temples. At the gate, after purification rites, they must remove their shoes to climb the rocks barefoot. In addition, before being allowed to view this wonder, each men had to swear never to reveal what he witnessed there. In modern times, in interests of disclosure, the secret of Mount Yudano has been revealed.

Due to the wearing away of the rock and the reddish minerals in the thermal-warmed water, the waterfall looks exactly like the private parts of a woman complete with sounds and gushing water. The practice can be thought of as worshipping the reproductive aspect of the feminine earth.
A wonderful example of "double entendre" I think, because in this haiku Basho hides this knowledge which was only known by other initiated man.

Okay back to the explanation of "double entendre". There are whole lists of words with double meanings -- spring rain = sexual emisions, and jade mountain = the Mound of Venus. But we have the same devices in English also, and haiku can use them in the very same way.

An example by Jane Reichhold:

touching each other
at the river

Here the ambiguity of the haiku can be taken as the reality that "when hills touch it is at a river" or one can think "out in the hills at the river a couple are touching each other". Or "on the hills of their bodies, a couple are touching each other in the wettest places".

Credits: According to Shinto mythology the Sun goddess Amaterasu was the mother of the Moon Princess (Shita Teru Hime)

An other example by this HWT in a poem by Basho:

the rainy image
of the bottom shining princess
the moon's face

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

To explain this "double entendre" I need the romaji translation also, so here the romaji translation follows:

kage wa ame no shita teru hime ka tsuki no kao

Shita Teru Hime (Shining Under Princess)
was the daughter of the legendary ruler, Okunimushi, of Izumo Province, in a Shinto myth. She was considered the Mother of Waka poetry. Shita, as "bottom", probably meant "laver" or "last", in reference to her rank as a princess.

I think this is really a nice way of writing haiku, so here is an example of "double entendre" as I used in one of my haiku (from my archive):

secret admirer -
petals of red roses around
my morning glory

© Chèvrefeuille

And here is another one which I wrote somewhere in August 2014:

too late for the ferry
after a steaming hot summer night
with my paramour

© Chèvrefeuille

I am not sure that this is really a "double entendre", but I felt this a somewhat mysterious haiku, so I think it's one in which this nice HWT is used.
This episode of CDHWT is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until December 11th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, early summer rains; fleas and lice, later on.