Sunday, March 13, 2016

Carpe Diem #937 Robe

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I am still in the nightshift, so my excuses for being late with publishing. This episode we will look at a haiku writing technique which we haven't seen earlier here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. Before I explain this haiku writing technique I will first give you the haiku by Basho for this episode and what Jane Reichhold tells about it in her wonderful book "Basho, The Complete Haiku", which I use very often.

kite mo miyo jiube ga haori hana goromo

put it on to try
in-vest yourself
in a flowered robe

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

And this is what she tells about the background of this haiku:

The "jiube ga haori" is a padded vest. The "hana goromo" is a flowered robe worn for viewing blossoms. "Haori" sounds similar to "gaori", which means "to surrender to the beauty of flowers", and "kite" can mean both "come" or "wear".

In this haiku Basho uses the haiku writing technique "pun" it's a kind of technique to bring a kind of joke into the haiku. I will explain this a little later in this episode. First I love to look at a few other haiku in which this "pun" is used.

jiube ga haori

These are more the modern use of "pun", because these two haiku are recently written. I ran towards these two by surfing the WWW.

two crows
sit on a bare branch -
attempted murder

© Laure Y.

fishing lake -
an angler catches
the sun
© Burning Rose

And I have ran through my archives to find also an example of this "pun" I think I found one:

white caps shattered
sand rushes around on the beach
a dragon kite
© Chèvrefeuille
Proud like a Peacock
Another one in which I "translated" "pun" to "humor":
proud like a peacock
the  businessman steps around
stumbles over the sill
© Chèvrefeuille

Japanese poets were master punsters. We have many of the same opposrtunities for puns in English, but contemporary haiku writers may not be as well versed as the Japanese are in using this technique because there have been periods of Western literary history when this skill has been reviled. And even though the hai of haiku means "joke, or fun, or unusual", there are still writers who frown when they encounter a pun in three lines. Basho didn't use the technique much because he was against the overuse of the method by the two other haikai schools of his time. Translators shy away from pun verses because they rarely work in the target language and long explanations can be tiresome to write and read. Fortunately the above haiku by Basho, works in both languages.

This haiku writing technique isn't well documented, because I couldn't find haiku examples written with "pun" by other haiku poets.

I found a few other examples in which this "pun" is used, I couldn't find the poets who did write them, but they are worth reading and sharing.

the year’s first snowfall
the cat bats at the window
to catch the snow birds.
each suburban lawn
a page in fall’s manuscript
burnished with gold leaves.
pierced by falcon claws
red feathers on the white snow
a cardinal sin.


And I have tried it myself, but it's not really my "cup of tea" to use "pun":

laugh at me
when I put my glasses on
I am an old man

such a hot day
my shadow needs to cool down
under the willow

cooling down
together with the melons
taking a bath

 © Chèvrefeuille

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until March 16th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode, iris leaves, later on.


  1. Almost at the middle of March; a happy Sundy to our charming host and all at Carpe Diem

    much love...

  2. I tried but I am notoriously bad at puns. Will sit this one out. Will be reading the contributions of others with delight though. Thanks, Chevrefeuille!

  3. This one was really difficult for me, though I love puns I'm not much good at writing them ... thanks to Jules though I will be participating after all! Thanks Jules! Bastet

  4. Am so behind on commenting on your posts Chev, and on others...getting there...yes, this pun one is tough, but the melons haiku cracked me up!