Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Carpe Diem Special #24, Butterfly by Chiyo-Ni

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

On the last day of February I love to share another wonderful haiku by Chiyo-Ni, our haiku master for this month. Chiyo-Ni, a female haiku master and a nun, wrote wonderful haiku as we have seen during this February Carpe Diem month. Today this is the haiku written by Chiyo-Ni for your inspiration:

In mid-flight
the butterfly returns
to the pines of Shiogoshi Shrine

(* I couldn't find the Romaji translation of this haiku)

In this haiku Chiyo-Ni describes a butterfly returning to home, the Shiogoshi Shrine, is she talking about herself? Maybe she does ... Shiogoshi Shrine was a Buddhist Shrine ... so maybe she went back to that shrine. By the way I couldn't find anything on Shiogoshi Shrine, but when I was preparing this episode of Carpe Diem a fragment of Basho's 'Narrow Road to the Deep North' or 'Oku No Hosomichi' came in mind. In that fragment Basho tells us about the pine trees of Shiogoshi.
Credits: Shiogoshi Pines
(by the way this link brings you to a wonderful website)

I love to share that fragment with you here:
[...] I stopped overnight at the Zenshoji Temple near the castle of Daishoji, still in the province of Kaga. Sora, too, had stayed here the night before and left behind the following poem:
All night long
I listened to the autumn wind
Howling on the hill
At the back of the temple.
Sora and I were separated by the distance of a single night, but it was just the same as being separated by a thousand miles. I, too, went to bed amidst the howling of the autumn wind and woke up early the next morning amid the chanting of the priests, which was soon followed by the noise of the gong calling us to breakfast. As I was anxious to cross over to the province of Echizen in the course of the day, I left the temple without lingering, but when I reached the foot of the long approach to the temple, a young priest came running down the steps with a brush and ink and asked me to leave a poem behind. As I happened to notice some leaves of willow scattered in the garden, I wrote impromptu,
I hope to have gathered
To repay your kindness
The willow leaves
Scattered in the garden.
and left the temple without even taking time to refasten my straw sandals.
Hiring a boat at the port of Yoshizaki on the border of the province of Echizen, I went to see the famous pine of Shiogoshi . (There is a deep bay here where the priest Rengyo in 1471 built a residence at Yoshizaki. It is a sacred site for the Shinshu sect. On a promontory called Shiogoshi opposite Yoshizaki there is a cluster of pine trees greatly prized for their shapely limbs. Yoshitsune also passed this way on his way to Hiraizumi.)

The entire beauty of this place, I thought, was best expressed in the following poem by Saigyo.
Inviting the wind to carry
Salt waves of the sea,
The pine tree of Shiogoshi
Trickles all night long
Shiny drops of moonlight.
Should anyone ever dare to write another poem on this pine tree it would be like trying to add a sixth finger to his hand. [...]  (Source: Shiogoshi Pines)

It's really a wonderful haibun 'Oku no Hosomichi' and I love to read it again and again. OK ... enough about the Pines of Shiogoshi ... let's go back to Chiyo-Ni's haiku:

In mid-flight
the butterfly returns
to the pines of Shiogoshi Shrine

To write a new haiku in the same tone and Spirit as this one by Chiyo-Ni will not be easy, but of course I have to try ...

sweet scent of pines
on the ancestor shrine -
Father's Day

Hm ... what do you think?

This prompt will stay on 'till March 1st 11.59 AM (CET) and I will post our first Carpe Diem episode of March, Risshun (coming of Spring), around 10.00 PM (CET). By the way in our Carpe Diem month March are all the prompts classical Japanese kigo or seasonwords for Spring.


  1. Probably your most timeless and beautiful page yet. I think you described the instant of writing the poem with utter clarity, and brought us to that moment..
    Your poems had that same beautiful crystal clarity..

  2. What a wonderful interpretation, and haiku. And your haiku is a masterpiece. I got a totally different interpretation, that I wrote from my gut. Thank you for this wonderful page.

  3. I love the way you used the shrine to create a connection between past and present. Lovely and powerful.

  4. wonderful impromptu haiku!
    and your haiku about the ancestor's shrine is just as beautiful..
    not to mention great choice for today's inspirational haiku ^^

  5. I would very much like to visit that pine-scented ancestor shrine!

  6. wonderful haiku. You really outdid yourself!

  7. Thanks for the inspiration on today's haiku.

  8. Thank you so Kris... I enjoyed the month of February here in Carpe Diem Haiku... You are matchless again today..

  9. Once again you take us on a journey into haiku and finish it off with wonderful words of your own. Thank you Kristjaan :)

  10. You weave magic in your lines, every time. Abundant thanks for all the wonderful haiku you share with us and for the beautiful prompts.

  11. luv both Chiyo and Bashos' poems; thank you for a guided February

    much love

  12. This poem stirred something in me. Beautifully composed. Thanks so much for all the wonderful background information and the poems you share.

  13. Another wonderful prompt...thank you.