Saturday, March 5, 2016

Carpe Diem #931 Bridge

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First my apologies for being late with publishing this episode of our Haiku Kai. I am in the nightshift and hadn't time to publish it earlier. So here it is our new episode bridge of this month of CDHK in which we will look at the writing techniques of Basho to learn how to write our haiku in his way.
I have read already wonderful haiku in response on our first episodes and in a lot of them I saw the techniques by Basho come through in your haiku .... so chapeau to you all.


As I created this prompt-list and especially this prompt "bridge" I first thought at a haiku I once wrote, several years ago, about bridges in Amsterdam, the capital of my country. I love to share that haiku here with you, but re-worked to a tanka.

"Skinny Bridge" (or in Dutch "de Magere Brug") in Amsterdam

As you know I am living in The Netherlands. We, the Dutch people, have a long history in conquering the waters, but we are also known for our skills in bridge building. In our lovely capital, Amsterdam, we have some well-known drawbridges e.g. "De Magere Brug" or "The Skinny Bridge".

It's one of my favorite bridges of Amsterdam. So I thought 'maybe I can write a tanka about this Skinny Bridge'.

walking through the city
crossing the canals of Amsterdam
the skinny bridge
here I lost my heart to her
walking through the city

© Chèvrefeuille (2012)
But this episode is not about my haiku or tanka, its about haiku writing techniques by Basho and here is the haiku by Basho which I will use for this episode.

swinging bridge
first one thinks of
meeting horses

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Credits: Bridge in the rain by Vincent Van Gogh (Japonaiserie)

In the way of Basho

A nice haiku I would say, but I think it's also necessary to tell you a little bit background about this haiku, before I will "jump" to the writing technique used here by Basho.

This haiku is written in autumn 1688 and it's about a bridge in Kiso. The Kiso area was known for the high quality of the horses raised there, and August 15th was the customary date for the emperor to inspect his horses. All the horses from this district had to cross this bridge to come to Tokyo.

There is another haiku by Basho about this same bridge, and I think in that haiku he also uses the haiku writing technique of today. Here is that other haiku:

swinging bridge
lives are intertwined
in ivy vines

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Due to his renga-writing skills. Basho was a master at making wild, wide leaps in the linking of the images in his poems. Today our haiku writing technique used by Basho is Leap Linkage, and maybe you can remember that we had that same technique in our second series of CD-HWT.

Here is the first haiku another time:

swinging bridge
first one thinks of
meeting horses

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

In this haiku the linkage leap is so wide that it may need a footnote of explanation for readers four centuries and thousands of miles away to follow it. This is one of the problems of making an innovative or wide leap - how to get the reader's mind to track it over the abyss without getting lost. The important point in creating with this technique is that the writer is Always totally aware of his or her truth. This is rare in haiku, because in haiku the poet needs the reader. Usually, if the reader thinks about the words long enough and deeply enough, he can find the author's truth, or better still, a new one.

Golden Carp (Koi) (Koi Woodblock by Ohara Shoson/Koson)

My response

As a writer's skills increase, and as he or she reads many haiku, as we all do here at CDHK, either their own or others, such easy leaps quickly fade in excitement. Being human, we seem destined to seek the next level of difficulty and to find new thrills. So the writer begins to attempt leaps that a reader new to haiku may not follow and therefore judge to be nonsense. The nice thing about this aspect is that when one begins to read haiku by a certain author, one will find some of the haiku simply meaningless, but years later, with many haiku experiences, the reader will discover the truth or poetry or beauty in a haiku that seemed dead and closed earlier.

An example by Jane Reichhold

a fish opens a door
in the lake
© Jane Reichhold
It's a little bit strange idea this haiku by Jane, but if you read it several times and give it some thought than you can see / read Jane's truth.
I think it isn't easy to use this technique in a haiku, but I had to give it a try of course.
the sound of water
crystalizes the icy structure
no jumping frogs

© Chèvrefeuille
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until March 8th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, silk tree, later on. For now .... have fun! 

1 comment:

  1. Great haiku, and very good humour in it from one angle.