Monday, January 28, 2013

Carpe Diem Special #19, Shiki's Evening Sun

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

The end of January is closing in on us, just a few days left. And than we will start with a new month of Carpe Diem  full of wonderful prompts.
This Carpe Diem Special by Shiki is the last one of this month. I couldn't choose however which haiku I would love to share here ... so a treat ... today's Special has two wonderful haiku written by Shiki.

tsuridoko ni irihi mori kuru shigemi kana

the evening sun
filters through the undergrowth
onto the hanging bed


rai harete ichiju nu yuki semi no koe

the thunderstorm having cleared up
the evening sun shines on a tree

where a cicada is chirping 

I would like to share some background on Shiki. In opposition to the prevailing trend of his time, Shiki depreciated Basho and affirmed the superiority of Buson. What appealed to him in Buson was his objectivity, his attitude as painter=poet looking with clear, fresh eyes upon the various world.

Masaoka Shiki

The personality of Shiki is not perhaps a very attractive one, but when we read his haiku we are struck with the large number of excellent, perfect verses which he wrote. He was a great believer in nature (almost a follower of Shinto-religion) 'still life', the avoidance of all intellectual elements in poetry. His strength and his weakness lay in his lack of religion. From his lack of religion comes his clearness of eye and mind, lack of sentimentality, love of truth, and devotion to literature. But we feel some want of depth: the baby has been thrown out with the bath-water.
Shiki isn't in touch with much that is human though its formbe superstitious and irrational.
Shiki is a humanist, but we feel something a little hard, superficial, unloving in him.
Well ... that was Masaoka Shiki. Next month I will share haiku by Chiyo-ni in the Carpe Diem Specials, but that's for February.

We are still in January and today we have our last Special by Shiki ... so let's do some haiku composing in the same Spirit and tone as Shiki.

cicadas chirping
in the shadow of the pine -
evening breeze

at sunrise
wandering over the hazy heath
the cry of an owl

shadows growing
bushes and trees look taller
in the evening sun

I think they're in the Spirit of Shiki ... what do you think?

Have fun, let the Spirit of Shiki inspire you all to compose haiku and share them here on Carpe Diem, a community of Haijin.

This prompt will stay on 'til January 30th 11.59 AM (CET) and I will publish our next episode later on today around 10.00 PM (CET). That will be 'birdsong'.



  1. What a wonderful write-up about Shiki. I really like what you were saying there - and admire his philosophy, for its limits as well as its merits. Thank you so much. Your haiku afterwards were wonderfully visual but also celebrated nature, I felt.
    Thanks Kristjaan

  2. Kristjaan your second haiku is very very good.

  3. wonderful haiku and write-up .. thankful for this. i think it's great to know something about the haiku masters and their style.

  4. Thank you for deleting the defective link, Kris! Your posts are so informative. I am enjoying learning so much about the poets! Can you let Yer Pirate know that his 'More Tea' site is still putting some comments into spam. Thanks!

  5. Your most beautiful haiku, Chev. Very well done. I love the owl detail.

  6. I think Krisjaan that you have captured the Spirit of Shiki...
    some how you are always able to dig deep and create the spirit of
    our prompts. I look forward each day to read your write-up and haiku...
    I am learning a lot. Thank you.

  7. Love the image of the cicada in your 2nd haiku! I have enjoyed this series of prompts based on Shiki's work!

  8. As if Shiki lives on...excellent work Kristjaan!

  9. Marvelous selection of a prompt. Thanks Kristjaan!