Friday, April 22, 2016

Carpe Diem Theme Week 3: Magnolia Blossoms, haiku by Soseki Natsume; episode 6: "autumn's shadow"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This third Carpe Diem Theme Week is almost over. We have only two episodes to go and than this Theme Week about the haiku by Soseki Natsume is over.

Soseki Natsume was always on search for a new style of haiku writing in which he tried to bring surrealism and fantasy together. It was his lifetime goal as Basho had with his karumi styled haiku. So I did some research on this idea and I ran into a wonderful article at Roadrunner, a haiku e-zine  about this idea by Soseki Natsume. In the mentioned article Soseki's ideas were briefly spoken about, Here is part of that article in a slightly revised setting.

Soseki Natsume, a contemporary of Shiki, was very busy with re-creating the haiku style. He brought surrealism and fantasy together in his haiku. Natsume Sōseki, considered one of Japan’s greatest writers, published “Ten Nights of Dream” in 1908.
Susan Napier, in her book “The Fantastic in Modern Japanese Literature: The Subversion of Modernity”, explains how Sōseki’s Ten Nights of Dream, published in 1908, “[i]n its effective development of a surreal atmosphere of Otherness, combined with its imaginative use of the notion of dream itself, [. . . ] creates a liminal literary world which is clearly that of the twentieth century. It is a world which Freud or Jung would certainly have recognized in terms of its suffocating representation of such peculiarly modern anxieties as crises of identity and free-floating guilt, expressed through archetypal imagery”. She goes on to note that “ . . . Sōseki and other writers of Japanese fantasy created works that appeal to non-Japanese readers at the same time as they used specifically Japanese elements to portray concerns particular to modern Japan”.

cover of Ten Night's Dreams
And here are a few haiku to inspire you in which Soseki Natsume tried to use this idea of surrealism and fantasy:

Into a man
as tiny as a violet
may I be reborn!

In the basin,
as I wash my face, there rises
autumn’s shadow.

The piercing cold—
I marry a plum blossom
in a dream.

© Soseki Natsume (Tr. Makoto Ueda)

And now the challenge for this episode ... try to use this idea of Soseki to write haiku from the view of surrealism and fantasy.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until April 24th at 10.00 PM (CET). Have fun, be inspired and share your haiku in the spirit of Soseki with us all.


  1. "I marry a plum blossom/in a dream" ahh that's really poetic.

  2. VERY important to those posting on google/blohspot
    Yet again I spent over 25 minutes, really, trying to post a comment on a haiku on blogspot/blogger by google. PLEASE PLEASE can you put the url option for commenters, such as is found on CDHK. PLEASE!