Friday, March 29, 2013

Carpe Diem Special #29, Onitsura's 'voice of the pine-tree'

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This Carpe Diem month is about to end, just two to go and than a new Carpe Diem month will start. April will be a very special Carpe Diem month to me. In that month I will become 50 yrs of age and it's also the month in which I hope to celebrate my 25th anniversary as a haiku-poet. As I have told you all already in April the Carpe Diem Specials will be haiku of my own. I am writing under the 'nom de plume' Chèvrefeuille, which means Honeysuckle. I hope to share wonderful haiku. I think I have written almost 10.000 haiku (could be even more, but I have never counted my haiku). So I can choose from a broad range of haiku. But that's for our next month.

Today I love to share the last haiku written by our haiku-master of this month, Onitsura, for this Carpe Diem Special. I have given that haiku already in my yesterday episode and I love to give that wonderful haiku here again.

suzukaze ya koku ni michite matsu no koe

the cool breeze
fills the empty vault of heaven
with the voice of the pine-tree

(c) Onitsura (1660-1738)

Credits: Pine tree bonsai (visit this site, it's a wonderful site on bonsai)

Onitsura was a contemporary of Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) the most known haiku-master ever I think and he is my role-model. I even have a weblog on which I 'revisit' haiku written by Basho. You can find that weblog HERE. Onitsura tried to write his haiku in the style of Basho and followed his rules for writing haiku. As you may know a classical haiku has a few rules:

  • syllables count (5-7-5)
  • a kigo (seasonword)
  • three lines, but the classical haiku poets used to write their haiku as one-line
  • in haiku is nature (and the place of human kind in nature) very important. It's sometimes called 'the poetry of nature'
  • a haiku describes a moment as short as the sound of a pebble thrown into water. (Maybe we can say: 'haiku ist einer Aha-Erlebnis').
  • haiku is mostly based on the philosophy of the haiku-poet and in the classical haiku setting it was based on Zen-Buddhism.

Back to the haiku written by Onitsura. R.H. Blyth wrote a comment on this haiku in his Haiku Volume 3 Summer-Autumn. (Blyth wrote several books about Haiku, but his four Volume series Haiku is 'the Bible of haiku'.
Blyth wrote:
[...] Which is it makes the sound, the pine-tree or the breeze? Is empty space warm or cool? The region of the poem is not different from that of these questions, the answer to them, - not the logical or purely intellectual answer, but the answer that willy-nilly we have to accept. If you arein the state of mind to accept the answer willingly, life accomplishes its ultimate and only object, to be lived. [...]

I found a wonderful haiku written by Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), one of the four haiku-masters:

waga matsu mo katajikenasa ya haru no ame

my pine tree too
is grateful...
spring rain

It's a nice haiku and refers to the soul of haiku, nature, and to the idea that everything and everyone has a soul. Even a stone has a soul. It's as deep in it's layers as the one by Onitsura. 

To write another haiku inspired on the one by Onitsura isn't easy, because I would love to touch the soul and spirit of Onitsura in that new haiku. So here I go ... meditating and contemplating on the haiku by Onitsura, trying to come in touch with his haiku, to become one with his haiku and his soul and mind.

in touch with the gods
pine trees reaching for heaven -
skylarks sing their song

skylarks sing their song
high against the bright blue sky
in honor of the gods

in honor of the gods
pine trees and skylarks together
reaching for heaven

reaching for heaven
sending up my prayers and become
in touch with the gods

What a lovely cascading haiku. Looks like the growing of the soul ... chakra's opening to heaven, my spirit joins in with nature ... feeling like the pine trees and skylarks.
I think that I have touch the soul, mind and spirit of Onitsura ... I am blessed.

Well ... this concludes the last Carpe Diem Special for March. I hope you enjoyed the read and I hope to read wonderfully composed haiku inspired on the one by Onitsura. Have fun, be inspired and share your haiku with us here on Carpe Diem and with the world.
This Special will stay on 'till March 31th (Easter Sunday) 11.59 AM (CET) and I will post our last episode of Carpe Diem's March later on today around 10.00 PM (CET). That will be: Yanagi (willow). That's our last classical kigo of Spring. I hope to prepare a new month of classical Japanese kigo in the first month of Summer, June. 

PS.: I am still busy with preparing our new prompt-list for April, but I will succeed. Be patient, I will soon publish the new prompt-list.


  1. I loved this haiku. And great writing as usual Kriistjaan

  2. Such a lovely, uplifting cascade. Like a religious/spiritual experience.

  3. I think that we know when our haiku are good, if it pleases ourselves...
    that's the most important....And your guidance and excellent work has been indispensable in learning to write and like my own haiku...
    I have a question: Is one of the 'rules' of classical haiku to have the first and third lines interchangeable?

  4. Your haiku and the inspiration haiku are very beautiful today.

  5. Oops, sorry for posting the wrong link. I fixed it now because one of the other poets let me know I copied the wrong thing in (in case you were wondering why I linked to a Seattle paper....)

  6. aloha Kristjaan - so many great prompts and haiku you share. thank you. i also like the bonsai site you've pointed out in this post. i recognize some of the names from books i enjoy. this has been a fun month for me altho i suspect i am not quite following the prompts as intended. still for me i enjoy this process of prompt and response—and the kigo you have shared—that is fun for me. thank you again. also an early birthday wish for you to enjoy a full year of 50 each day. every day we become richer in experience. way cool on that. aloha, rick.

  7. Another interesting prompt...thank you !
    I appreciate all the work you do ... especially the last two...supplying information for us on the topic.