Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Carpe Diem Ghost Writer #27, Yozakura, the Unknown Haiku poet

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at our new month of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, October 2014. This month we will celebrate our second anniversary with all wonderful prompts, Special features and new features to come. You can find this month's prompt-list above in the menu-line or HERE.

Today it's Ghost Writer Wednesday and I think I have a wonderful Ghost Writer for you. He will introduce himself in his GW-post and I hope you will like his story and the task he will give you. Are you ready?



My name is Yozakura, which means "Blossoms in the Moonlight" and I am an unknown Soloku poet or as you call it nowadays, haiku poet. I was born in the Midsummer night of 1640 at Kyoto as a son of a high ranked samourai and a geisha named Fujiko which means "Child of the Wisteria". I can't remember her, because she died as I was born, but my father told me she was as beautiful as the Wisteria.

Credits: Wisteria (or Blue Rain)
My dad raised me alone and taught me all I know about art and poetry. When I was around 20 years old my dad passed away ... I was an orphan now. Being an orphan brought me strong feelings of sadness and sorrow, but it also made me who I am now. To forget my loneliness I started wandering around begging and sometimes I had the luck that I could work for a few weeks, but after my dad's death I never became the same Yozakura again until I met this wonderful man that composed wonderful poems together with his friends and other poets.
He was a great man, a specialist in composing hokku for renga. He was really great and had a revolutionary thought about hokku. I remember one night at his home, if you could call it a home, it was just a hut, that we had a renga party. He suddenly had a revelation of some kind.
"Yozakura!" He said. "I have a wonderful idea". I looked at him, with a kind of adoration in my eyes. He smiled at me and said: "Listen ... Yozakura, what do you think of this idea?" I waited breathless. He had an amazing charisma, it was like he had a lightness around him. "I am gonna make a new poetry form of this hokku. Why we use hokku only to start a renga? Why don't we use it as an alone-standing peom? Listen to this one Yozakura:

an old pond
frog jumps in -
water sound!

"It would be a great hokku, but also on it's own its a great poem. I will call this poetry form 'Soloku'". He looked at me. "Well ... what do you say Yozakura?"
"I don't know master Basho ... but you are right. This is a wonderful stand alone poem and I like that name you have given it 'Soloku'. It's somewhat like myself. My parents died and I am an orphan, but I have done it so well. My life as an orphan has brought me so much happiness and joy and of course there is sadness and sorrow too, but I managed being alone and have become who I am now". Tears rolled over my cheeks. Basho embraced me. "You have done well Yozakura. I am proud to be your friend and your master as I am proud to be your disciple too Yozakura. You have teached me a lot too. I love you". Than he gave me a kiss on my forehead and said: "Come on Yozakura we have something to celebrate ... the birth of a new poetry form, 'Soloku'".

It was great to experience this and I stayed a long time at Basho's home. Maybe I was in love with him, maybe I wasn't, but I know for sure there was a kind of love in our friendship.

How did you became involved with 'Soloku' or as you call it nowadays haiku? Will you tell me? And please will you do me the honor to write a 'Soloku' about that moment?"


During the years I have been your host already I have told you a lot about how I became involved with haiku. So I think there is no need for me to tell you that again, but of course I have to write a haiku to honor Yozakura, the Unknown Haiku poet, who died in the autumn of 1716. He survived Basho, but has never forgotten him. Yozakura has not a lot 'Soloku' left behind, but I have to share a beauty written by him:

yoake ni arau tsuyude watashino ashisaichoubi

at dawn
I wash my feet with dew
the longest day

© Yozakura (1640-1716)

A wonderfully composed haiku very much in the smae spirit as Basho once wrote. I will try to find more 'soloku' written by Yozakura and maybe I will introduce him in November's CD-Specials ... I will give it a thought.

Here is my response on Yozakura's question:

in the moonlight
Wisteria flowers look fragile -
a gust of wind

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... I hope you did like this GW-post by Yozakura, the Unknown Haiku poet, and I hope you will be inspired to share your story about becoming 'addicted' to haiku with us all. Have fun!

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until October 3rd at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our next episode, Rough Sea, later on.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Carpe Diem "Time Glass" #4, sunrise

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's "Time Glass"-Monday again and today I will challenge you again to write a haiku within 12 hours. A haiku which is inspired on a photo and a prompt. Today this prompt is Sunrise.
The goal of CD's "Time Glass" is to write a haiku within 12 hours, so it's a feature which is close to the saying "a haiku is a description of a moment as short as the sound of a pebble thrown into water".

For this week's Time Glass challenge I have a little extra pressure .... your haiku has to follow the classical rules as there are e.g. 5-7-5 syllables, a kigo (seasonword) and a kireji (cuttingword, mostly interpunction in Western haiku). More about those classical rules you can find in our Carpe Diem Lecture 1, which you can find in the menu-line above.

Sakura blooming (photo © Chèvrefeuille)
And here is the prompt:


You have to use both, the photo and the prompt, for your inspiration. Have fun ... and ... be on time, you have only twelve (12) hours to respond. Good Luck!

This Time Glass challenge starts tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until September 30th 7.00 AM (CET), so you have just 12 hours to respond.

Carpe Diem #572, Sage

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I am a bit sad ..., because this is our last episode for this wonderful month of Carpe Diem with all those gorgeous prompts by Jane Reichhold and Francis of Assisi. But ... it's also a joy to look forward to our next month in which we will celebrate our second anniversary. That will be a great month I think, and the first "surprise" I have already shared with you all! Our new Carpe Diem "Ask Jane ..." feature in which Jane Reichhold will give answers on your questions and ideas about haiku, tanka and renga. There will be a few more surprises next month ... you will see ...

Our last prompt of Carpe Diem September 2014 is now at hand and today we share haiku on sage. There are several different meanings according to sage, but sage in this episode is about that gorgeous little plant. Sage is considered a nearly universal magical cure-all, able to dispel curses and bestow wisdom, clarity, health, and prosperity. A sage leaf kept with a Tarot deck will preserve it uncontaminated by negative, distracting forces. One way to break a curse with sage is to light a leaf (or handful of leaves) and then blow out the flame, allowing the embers to continue smoking. Then use the smoldering sage to draw large, counter-clockwise circles in the air. The smoke will banish the curse and bring a blessing in its stead.

Credits: Sage in bloom
Here are two examples of haiku composed by Jane Reichhold:

evening stretches
over desert gold
purple sage

Cathedral Canyon
under Christ's picture
wild sage

© Jane Reichhold

I especially like that second one, because of the contrast with that what I wrote above about Sage. Well ... my friends ... this was the last episode of Carpe Diem September 2014 and tomorrow I will publish our first Ghost Writer post for October 2014 in which we will celebrate our second anniversary. I hope to publish our prompt-list as soon as possible ...

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until October 2nd at noon (CET). Have fun ...!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Carpe Diem #571, Mushrooms

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's a real joyful day today, because I have published our new Carpe Diem Haiku Kai feature "Ask Jane ..." and have introduced it to you all. I hope this new feature will bring a lot of joy to you all and I hope to read wonderful questions and answers about haiku by Jane Reichhold.

As this month is running to it's end I am still excited about this all new feature above I even slept really bad because of my excitement. As we are on our way to our second anniversary next month we have still a few prompts to go based on Jane Reichhold's "A Dictionary of Haiku", a modern Saijiki in which Jane has compiled a lot of modern kigo (seasonwords) for all seasons.
This month we are exploring her modern kigo for autumn and today our prompt is Mushrooms. Mushrooms are really an autumn feature, because in this season we can see a lot of mushrooms coming up. So I think this prompt has no need for a long introduction or post ...

Here are a few of Jane's example-haiku for this prompt:

looking closely
under the mushroom
a desert landscape

woman in the woods
touching mushrooms
touching the base

© Jane Reichhold

I like these, but that first one is really my favorite. It shows me wonderful memories and new memories made just in the last few years. My grandchildren are exploring nature and are discovering also the mushrooms in autumn ... and that's great to see and be part of it.

Credits: Fly Agaric
"look granddad!"
he points at a Fly Agaric -
the home of a gnome ...

© Chèvrefeuille

Isn't it wonderful ... to see how children are exploring their world and live in it? What a phantasy they have. And what a gorgeous idea to see the home of a gnome in a mushroom ... awesome.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until October 1st at noon (CET). I will publish or new episode (the last of this month), Sage, later on. For now, have fun!
!! Tomorrow it is time again for our Carpe Diem Time-Glass challenge in which you have to challenge time by writing a new haiku within 12 hours !!

Carpe Diem's "Ask Jane ...", an introduction to a new feature!

E-mail by Jane Reichhold which I got yesterday September 27th:


Yes, let's do this! Put up a note asking for questions. When one arrives I will do my best to answer it. If the question is one I have answered I will rewrite my previous answer to fit your site and person. Otherwise I will answer as soon as I can get something new written.  Here we go. Blessings on the endeavor.
I will write for you and your site as long as the questions come in and my health holds out!
\o/ Jane
Jane Reichhold

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As you all could read in the above e-mail by Jane Reichhold she has decided to become our host for a Special feature here at our Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. I had asked her, earlier this year, if she would be Ghost Writer for our second anniversary month next October. She has given it a thought and accepted my invitation to be a Ghost Writer. A while later she emailed me again with the question that wouldn't be "a ghost" and if it was an idea to start an all new feature hosted by her at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai.
You all will understand that I was (and still am) excited as I realized myself that Jane actually said: "I love being part of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, but not as "a ghost", but as a real person, hosting a new feature".
That's why I had to publish the Carpe Diem Extra episode of yesterday and now I will first introduce Jane Reichhold to you all with a brief biography, than I will re-publish a short interview I had with her, when our contact started (last year, 2013). And third (and last) I will tell you what the goal will be of this new Carpe Diem "Ask Jane ..." feature and how it's gonna work.

A brief biography of Jane Reichhold:

Jane Reichhold is a haiku personality. There's a lot to know about her, as well as to learn from her. On her page (AHA!POETRY!) we learn that she was born in Lima, Ohio, in 1937, and studied Art and Journalism at Bluffton College, Ohio, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, Fresno State University, Fresno, CA, and San Francisco State University, San Francisco. She lives now in Gualala, CA, USA.

She's also a mother of three children and taught art classes for children (1962-1966). She owned a pottery workshop studio in Dinuba, CA (1967-1971) and then she moved to Hamburg, West Germany, in 1971. There, she made sculpture from ropes which was exhibited throughout Europe. She became the first American woman artist accepted into the Deutsche Kunstlerbund [German Artists' Organization] and has written free-lance magazine articles and poetry since 1963 which, have been published in USA, Canada, England, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Romania and Croatia.

She published a lot of books, so here are a few examples of her books:

# Shadows on an Open Window, 89 pp., 1979.
# From the Dipper...Drops, 125 pp., 1983.
# Cherries/Apples, 52 pp., 1986.
# Tigers in a Tea Cup, 344 pp., 1988. Haiku Society Merit Book Award
# Narrow Road to Renga, 364 pp., 1989.
# Silence, 32 pp., 1991. Haiku Society Merit Book Award
# A Dictionary of Haiku, 396 pp., 1992. (Which you all know from our promptlist this month (September 2014)
 # And recently Jane published “Symbiotic Poetry”, 282 pp., 2014 (with her husband Werner)

Among her many achievements are:

## Leader of the Haiku Writers of Gualala Arts and publisher of their monthly Haiku Sharing for seven years.
## Founder of AHA Books, Publishing Company, in 1987.
## Publisher of Mirrors - International Haiku Forum, a magazine distributed worldwide 1988 - 1995.
## Editor of the Geppo, the periodical for the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society of United States and Canada, 1991 - 1994.
## Co-Editor of LYNX, a journal for linking poets with renga and tanka since 1993.
## In December 1995 she  (and her husband Werner) launched  AHA!POETRY on the web.
## Member of the Haiku Society of America, Haiku Poets of Northern California, Haiku Canada, Haiku International, Tokyo, Japan; the German Haiku Society, and Poetry Society of Japan.

Her Awards:

### Twice winner of the Museum of Haiku Literature Award [Tokyo].
### Three-time winner of an Haiku Society of America.
### Merit Book Award: Tigers In A Tea Cup, Silence, and A Dictionary of Haiku.
### Winner of numerous haiku awards, including second place in the 1987 JAL contest and in the Itoen Tea Company Award in 1992.
### Her papers are being archived at the American Haiku Archives in the State Library of California, Sacramento, CA

art-work © Chèvrefeuille

A short interview I had with Jane Reichhold as our contact started back in 2013:

1.) When did you start writing haiku and was there a reason for that you decided to start with composing haiku?

JR: I first discovered haiku in 1967 by reading a Peter Pauper book, Haiku Harvest, translated by Peter Beilenson and Harry Behn in 1962. I was leery about the shortness of the poems, because I had been writing much longer free-verse, but the transfiguring moment came to me when I realized I could experience something like the Old Masters of Japan were describing in their haiku.
I was a potter at the time and to try out a newly-made kick wheel I was throwing pots outdoors. Just at the moment when my thumb and fingers began to draw the clay upwards, a mockingbird sang a trill. I felt as if it was the bird’s sound that made the clay rise up into a vessel. I instinctively felt this was the kind of experience should be preserved in a haiku. At that time, following the example in the book, I wrote my haiku using 5, 7, 5 syllables. And I thought I was the only non-Japanese writing in the form. I firmly believed that only the Japanese could write a haiku.
I few years later I moved to Germany and I continued to write what I called ‘haiku’ and shared them with my daughter. One day, while at the village dentist, I met Sabine Sommerkamp who was interning as an assistant to earn money to travel to the USA to meet haiku writers. From her I learned that there were several groups in the States as well as such well-known poets as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg who were writing haiku in English. Sabine and I discovered we lived only blocks apart and I began to learn from her while she wrote her doctorate on the subject and she later headed the feature for haiku in the magazine Apropos. Within a year Werner and I had begun living back in the States part-time and it was easier to meet with other haiku writers, to find the books they were reading and writing, and to subscribe to magazines here. [This is taken from an interview by Ami Kaye]

2.) Which classical haiku-master or haiku-poet do you like the most? My role-model is Matsuo Basho.

JR: I would agree with you there. I read and studied every translation of his work I could find. By working with Hatsue Kawamura on our own translations of Japanese tanka, I was finally able to do my own translations of all of Basho’s haikai which was published by Kodansha as Basho The Complete Haiku. Anyone reading the book, and especially the notes, would understand how and why I admire Basho so much.

3.) I have read wonderful haiku written by you, but do you have a particular haiku written by you, which is your special favorite?

JR: That is like asking a mother who is her favorite child.

4.) A last question: I write in Kanshicho-style. Are you familiar with that style which was used several years by Basho? Do you like that style?

JR: I never heard of Basho’s Kanshicho-style unless this name has been given to the poems he wrote in the Chinese style. Can you point me to some works mentioning this. A Google search only brings up your name.

The goal of this new Special feature Carpe Diem's "Ask Jane ...":

Jane is an authority on haiku, tanka and several other forms of poetry. As you can read at AHA! POETRY! she also knows a lot about renga (chained-poem). She has written a lot of books and articles about haiku and she really does know a lot about haiku which she loves to share with Carpe Diem Haiku Kai and the world.
The goal for this feature? Well ... there is no goal just an opportunity to ask Jane all about haiku, senryu, tanka and renga. She will answer all of your questions about haiku and will write also new articles about haiku. She is a great haiku-poetess, maybe the greatest modern haiku-poetess, and can be a source of information and knowledge for you all.
So ... if you have questions for Jane than you can email them to the following email-address which I have created especially for this new Carpe Diem feature "Ask Jane ..." I will forward them (your questions) to Jane and she will answer your questions and email them back to me ... than I will publish them here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai.

You can email your questions to:

I hope this new Carpe Diem Haiku Kai feature "Ask Jane ..." will become a great success. I am looking forward to your questions and I promise that I will forward them to Jane and publish the answers as soon as possible on our Haiku Kai.


Chèvrefeuille, your host at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Carpe Diem Extra 10-2014

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I have a wonderful announcement to make. Carpe Diem Haiku Kai evolves further. I am excited to tell you all that Jane Reichhold will be hosting a new feature here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. As you all maybe know I have contacted Jane last year to ask her permission to use her haiku. Since than Jane and I have been in contact on a regular base and have become friends for life.
Tomorrow I will introduce that all new feature to you all.

Have a nice weekend,


Chèvrefeuille, your host.

Carpe Diem Special #109, Words by Francis of Assisi 4

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This is our last CD Special of this month. I have found another nice quote by Francis of Assisi for your inspiration. I hope you do like it and that it will inspire you to write an all new haiku, senryu, tanka or kyoka.

[...] “A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.” [...]

This is a great quote and I think it's almost a haiku ... here is my attempt to write an all new haiku inspired on this quote by Francis.

moving shadows
as the sun climbs to his throne -
Peter Pan was here

© Chèvrefeuille

Hm ... not a strong one, but I have tried to bring some humor in it. And ... humor isn't my "cup of tea".

Credits: Disney's Peter Pan
This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until September 30th at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, mushrooms, later on. For now ... have fun!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Carpe Diem Sparkling Stars #7, Koyu-Ni's "Tranquil"

Credits: logo image
Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

A new episode of Sparkling Stars (with a new logo) in which I will introduce a classical haiku-poetess named Koyu-Ni, she was (as e.g. Chiyo-Ni) a Buddhistic nun (as can be seen at her name "ni" stands for "female monk".) There aren't many haiku known by her. I ran into this one as I was preparing this episode which I started last Sunday. It's a joy to prepare every episode of Carpe Diem, but it takes time. (smiles)

hana chirite shizuka ni narinu hito-gokoro

the blossoms have fallen:
our minds are now

© Koyu-Ni (Tr. R.H. Blyth)

[...] Koyu-Ni died in 1782, her family name was Matsumato. She is on of the more prominent woman poets of the Edo period. She learned haiku from Songi the First. [...]

I love to share a translation of my own for this haiku:

tranquility -
finally I have found peace,
blossoms have fallen

© Koyu-Ni (Tr. Chèvrefeuille)

Sakura blooming © Chèvrefeuille
I think that in this translation the peace of mind is stronger present. With every gust of wind I am anxious that the fragile Cherry blossoms will be scattered and torn apart, but as all blossoms have fallen than my heart and mind are at peace, there is no anxiety anymore and that gives me that feeling of tranquility.

Not that this tranquility is superior to the excitement of our hearts while the Cherry blossoms were blooming. It is neither better nor worse. It is simply inevitable, like the blooming, like the falling of the Cherry blossoms themselves.
There is a Waka of Narihira (825-880), which may well have been the original of this haiku:

were there
no cherry blossoms
in this world
our minds might know
serenity in spring

© Narihira

A humorous verse, by Basho (1644-1694), of the same import, is the following:

hana ni nenu kore mo tagui ka nezumi no su

is it not like a mouse's nest, -
this being unable to sleep
for the flowers?

© Basho (Tr. R.H. Blyth)

That is to say, the poet is unable to sleep at night because of the excitement of the Cherry blossoms, and compares his heart to the nest of the mice who are squeaking and scuffling all night long.

One more, by Shado (died 1737), who was a student under Basho:

hana chitte take miru noki no yasusa kana

the flowers having fallen,
looking at the bamboos,
it is restful under the eaves

© Shado

All wonderful haiku I think, tributes to the beauty of the Cherry blossoms, and the anxiety to see them fall and be scattered.
Life and dead are living together just on a thin line of silk, so close to one another, but that's the circle of life, the beauty of Mother Nature. This is what haiku is ... writing about nature and mankind as being part of it's beauty.
Sakura blooming © Chèvrefeuille
The goal of this Sparkling Stars episode is to write a classical haiku, following the classical rules of haiku, about the circle of life of the fragile Cherry blossoms (or any other fragile blossom). So good luck, have fun, be inspired and share your haiku, following the classical rules (as you can read in CD's Lecture 1) with us all here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. The place to be if you like composing haiku and sharing them with the world.

This episode of Carpe Diem Sparkling Stars will be open for your submissions Saturday September 27th at noon (CET) and will remain open until October 4th at noon (CET). For now ... have fun!

Carpe Diem #570, Fallen Leaves

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Fallen Leaves are the image of autumn and today that's our prompt. Autumn a time of loss and beauty. Nature starts to go in hibernation for the cold winter and we (humans) are preparing us for winter. I love autumn ...

in the city park
all kinds of colors together
rainbow leaves

© Chèvrefeuille

A short post this time ... what can I tell more about this prompt ... it speaks for itself.

Credits: Fall Foliage
This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until September 29th at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, a new CD Special with words of Francis of Assisi, later on. Have fun!

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge #51, Becca Givens' "Red Leaf Falls"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a joy to present our new Tan Renga Challenge episode to you all. Tan Renga is a short-chained verse with two stanzas respectively with 5-7-5 and 7-7 syllables. It looks very similar to the Tanka, but isn't written by one poet (as Tanka is), but by two poets.
In this Carpe Diem feature the goal is to write a second stanza to the given first (three-lined) stanza or 'hokku'. The second (two-lined) stanza can be a completion or a continuation of the scene in the first stanza. You have to associate on themes from the first stanza to write the second stanza.
This week I have chosen a haiku written by Becca Givens of "On Dragonflies wings with Buttercup tea". She wrote this haiku in response on a quote by Francis of Assisi.

nature sleeps
carpet of silent snow
red leaf falls

© Becca Givens

The goal is to write the second stanza of this Tan Renga, a two-lined stanza, by associating on themes in Becca's given haiku.

Credits: Red Leaves
Here is my Tan Renga starting with Becca's verse:

nature sleeps
carpet of silent snow
red leaf falls                             (Becca)

in the middle of the night
bad dreams torturing me               (Chèvrefeuille)

A strange 'twist', but I like the sensation in this one ... what do you think?

This episode of our Tan Renga Challenge is open for your submissions at noon (CET) and will remain open until next Friday October 3rd at noon (CET). Have fun, be inspired and share your continuation or completion of this Tan Renga with us all.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Carpe Diem #569, Corn

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a wonderful Saijiki Jan Reichhold has compiled with her "A Dictionary of Haiku" it's a rich source for inspirational modern kigo (or seasonwords). And we have already seen and read wonderful kigo this month all for autumn.
Today we are going further with the exploration of Jane's Saijiki and today our prompt is Corn and here is the example Jane shared in that Saijiki:

harvest moon
a bulging corn crib
releases it

Credits: Corn
lost in the corn fields
I look at autumn's sky and listen,
a Skylark's song

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until September 28th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode, fallen leaves, later on. For now ... have fun!

Carpe Diem "Little Creatures" #6, Lizard

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This week's "Little Creatures" is about Lizards. I have several books about haiku and sought them all through  for a haiku about Lizards, I just came up with one written by Raizan (1654-1716) and that's the one which I love to share here for this new episode of "Little Creatures".

dezu to yoi tokage wa hito wo odorokasu

if only you wouldn't come out, -
you frightened me

© Raizan

This is a common experience with all kinds of creatures, even with human beings. We do not mind such things existing, if only they would not pop out and make us jump. In this kind of unreasonable attitude, in the very unreasonableness of it, there is something poetical. (Strictly speaking, this verse refers to the "coming-out" of the lizard at the beginning of spring.)

As I told you above I cannot recall other "lizard"-haiku, so I went on a major quest for a few more on the Internet. I found a nice haiku written by a Lebanese haiku poet Paul Jahshan in 1992:

a cool December morning;
in the courtyard the lizard and I:
both in the sun

© Paul Jahshan

Credits: Lizard (©Chiraykoo)
And another one written by Chiraykoo, an urban shaman, for the New Year 2012:

lizard, walk with me
futures both shadow and bright,
dreaming creation

© Chiraykoo

And I found another lizard-haiku by a modern haiku-poet Ertore José Palmero (1923 -). It's more about a handmade lizard by a goldsmith:

undisturbed but watchful,
the lizard resembles
goldsmith's masterpiece.

© Ertore José Palmero

And I found another haiku about lizard(s):

The sun awakens
To drink the dews of dark night
Lizards seek fresh shade

To conclude this selection of "lizard"-haiku a gorgeous Haiga by Ed Bremson:

Credits: Lizard (haiga) © Ed Bremson

I couldn't find haiku about lizard composed by classic haiku-poets, but maybe you can find one or two ...

This episode of "Little Creatures" was about lizard and now the goal is to write your own (classic)-haiku about lizard (or Chameleon, Salamander or another little reptile). Your haiku has to follow the classical counting of 5-7-5 syllables ... and that's the only classical rule you have to use for this episode.

Here is my attempt:

slipping through my fingers,
like the colors of the rainbow,
collared lizard

© Chèvrefeuille

Credits: Common Collared Lizard © Dakota L.
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until next Thursday October 2nd at noon (CET). Have fun ... be inspired and share!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Carpe Diem's "Just Read".

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I love to introduce a new feature to you. Not a new challenging feature ... it's more a kind of background feature in which I will share articles about our beloved haiku and look closer to the shared articles, maybe I write a few articles myself. 'Just Read' is as it says ... just for reading and sharing knowledge to become a 'better' haiku poet. These articles are coming from haiku-magazines all over the planet and from the Internet ...
For this first episode I have a nice article about the 'crow'-haiku by Basho. It's written by Stephen Wolfe and I have tried to make it an excerpt.


The History and Significance of Basho's Autumn Crow Haiku - Stephen WOLFE

kare eda ni
karasu no tomarikeri
aki no kure

on a bare branch
a crow has stopped
autumn dusk

In 1689, five years before his death, Basho wrote this final version of this seminal haiku, which, according to many literary critics, ushered in modern haiku replete with its subtle yet profound power. It represented a revolutionary change from the shallow, pun-ridden, clumsy haiku of the Danrin  School that held sway at the time. In the words of R. H. Blyth, this 'crow' haiku by Basho was the watershed in "the setting up of his own, indeed, the creation of what we now call 'haiku.’

As an indication of the importance this haiku held for Basho in terms of artistic expression and poetic aesthetics, this final version passed down to posterity was honed through at least two previous incarnations. The original version of 1680 contained an even longer ten-syllable second part:

kare eda ni
karasu no tomaritaruya
aki no kure

The eventual change in the end of the second part from the kireji (cutting word) ya in the original version to keri in the final version tends to infuse the crow's action with a weightier sense of conclusion. Donald Keene points out that the significance of even this initial version was immediately perceived and described as "one of the three verses of our style" when it was included in a collection published in 1681.

Keri in Final Version

The final version with its use of keri, in addition to slightly reducing the cumbersome ten-syllable overload of the second part and adding a sense of finality to the crow's action, adds another dissonant "k" sound to the already present kare, karasu, aki and kure to suggest the latent cacophonous cawing of the crow behind the silent, immobile veneer of this haiku. One feels that the crow could at any moment swoop down from its solitary tableau, like a figure breaking loose from the restraining stillness of Keats' Grecian Urn, to butcher a helpless duckling or a still blind kitten with its sword-sharp beak. One is reminded of the way Bruce Lee (whose son Brandon, in a bizarre stroke of irony, was killed in the filming of the movie 'The Crow") would suddenly erupt from a yin meditative state to violent yang action to the accompaniment of his own, piercing
shrieks. The words of this haiku denote a surface reality of silence and stillness while connoting a lurking, reactive opposite. Basho's care in perfecting his crow haiku suggests that he was striving for a breakthrough nuanced innovation that he hoped would chart a new direction for haiku. Judging by the commentary of innumerable Japanese poets, scholars, and Zen practitioners who saw in this haiku a whole gamut of Japanese aesthetic principles and expression, Basho was successful. At this juncture a brief sampling of the critical acclaim lavished on this haiku by leading literary authorities will serve to suggest its overwhelming importance in defining a poetic genre that would eventually become synonymous internationally with the terse profundity of the Japanese sensibility.
Typical of the hyperbolic commentary engendered by this poem is the eminent haiku poet and scholar Miyamori Asataro's (1869-1952) conclusion that 'This is an epoch-making verse which took the first step in the movement elevating the haikai to serious, pure literature." Ota Mizuho (1876-1955), tanka poet and classical scholar, insisted that Basho "was trying to produce a model verse for haikai of the future" and simultaneously sustaining "an aesthetic of 'loneliness' handed down from the medieval waka tradition.”


Shimada Seiho (1882-1944), haiku poet and Waseda University professor, asserted that it was this crow haiku that illustrated a basic tenet of Basho's poetic direction which Basho described when he proclaimed: "Poetry of other schools is like colored painting. Poetry of my school should be written as if it were black-ink painting." In a similar manner, Handa Ryohei (1887-1945), tanka poet and Basho scholar, describes this haiku as a prime example of the Japanese aesthetic notion of shibumi, "the kind of poem which emerges when the subject is stripped of all its glitter and reduced to its bare skeleton." It is the above qualities that R. H. Blyth was responding to when he maintained that this haiku is a masterpiece because "The loneliness of autumn is thus intensified by the deathly immobility and colourlessness of the scene."
Basho scholar and editor Yamamoto Kenkichi (1907-88) postulates that 'The aesthetic which the poet discovered in writing this hokku can be said to be a revival of the principles of hie ['cold, icy beauty'],  yase ['consumptive beauty, spare and slender'] and karabi ['the austere, monochrome beauty suggested by the image of a dried flower'u] ."  In short, this haiku has been credited with manifesting a plethora of key Japanese poetic principles and practices.

A significant part of Basho's motivation for seeking a new way of haiku was his disgust with the contrived tricks and superficial artifice of the Danrin haiku of his time. He asserted that the poet and object of the poem should merge with no room for poetic gimmicks or stunts, "neither calculated unexpectedness nor posed picturesqueness."  Basho's poetic creed called for the poet to express "unadorned nature" and "the complete identity of the poet with the scene he has intuited." This quality is intimated in his famous artistic decree, "Learn of the pine from the pine; of the bamboo from the bamboo."

"Without Wandering Thoughts"

He also expressed this notion when he urged his disciples, "In writing do not let a hair's breath separate yourself from the subject. Speak your mind directly; go to it without wandering thoughts." Higginson articulately sums up the poetic goal the crow haiku attained, and why, from its inception, Basho's influence on haiku was to be so profound: ... both the language of the poem and the mind of the poet should be transparent to the reader, who, on reading the poem, should see directly into the inner life of the object as the poet did. This is the ideal of Basho-School haiku, an ideal almost all haiku poets since have striven to attain.
The origin of this haiku has become indelibly associated with a legendary bit of Japanese literary folklore, the veracity of which has been debated over the centuries since Basho's death. Whether or not the story is apocryphal, it indicates the importance placed on this haiku in the annals of haikai history. Sakurai Rito (1681-1755), a haiku poet and scholar associated with Basho's disciples, most notably Ransatsu, gave the following account of the meeting of Basho with two other influential haiku poets circa 1680: As a leader -of the Danrin school Basho had been having a hard time, when Kigin, feeling sympathetic, came for a visit and had a talk with him and Sodo over a cup of tea. The three masters discussed possible ways to soften the excesses of the Danrin style, and in the end Basho was urged to take leadership in the matter. Thereupon he wrote the crow poem, saying it might point in a new direction.

"Mindless, Natural"

The subject of this haiku is one that frequently appeared in Chinese paintings and poetry. One notable example, among many, of this theme in Chinese poetry is found in the opening lines of "Autumn Thoughts" by the Yuan Dynasty poet Ma Chih-yuan:
"Withered vine/old tree/evening crow."  This image was also found in the controlled sabi of Japanese waka, especially those of Saigyo whose influence on Basho was enormous. However, Basho's poem effortlessly establishes, once again to draw on the words of R. H. Blyth, a "perfection of unity" between "the expressed objective and the unexpressed subjective." The overall effect is to create a sublime monochrome mood of tangible, transcendent loneliness. Perhaps the quality that most significantly sets this haiku apart from previous haiku and its Chinese poetic precursors, is what Henderson aptly describes as "the principle of internal comparison." The disparate elements in the haiku mutually reinforce and deepen the brooding overall mood. The barren branch, the blackness of the crow (akin in symbolic richness perhaps to Melville's "whiteness of the whale"), and the deepening autumn dusk, forge a shadowland operative on the plane of seasonal reality, and also serve as a glass darkly through which is revealed an unrelenting sabi netherland. What Henderson refers to as this principle of internal comparison might very well be the organic cohesiveness that Basho described as karumi when he wrote, "In my view a good poem is one in which the form of the verse, and the joining of its two parts, seem light as a shallow river flowing over its sandy bed." Basho urges the artist to remain, in Joycean fashion, aloofly paring his fingernails removed from the crafting of any intrusive artifice. Poets, scholars, artists and Zen masters alike have seen in the bare "suchness" of this haiku a spectrum of metaphoric significance intimating a sublime darkside hovering beyond, again to use a Melville phrase, "the
pasteboard mask of reality."

Poet of Eternal Aloneness

Zen Master Suzuki Daisetz, for example, describes Basho as "a poet of Eternal Aloneness" and insists "there is a great Beyond in the lonely raven perching on the dead branch of a tree. All things come out of an unknown abyss of mystery, and through every one of them we can have a peep into the abyss." Suzuki goes on to describe how Basho's spirit of Eternal Aloneness pulsating in this haiku encompasses "the chaste enjoyment of life and Nature, it is the longing for sabi and wabi, and not the pursuit of material comfort or of sensation." What might seem gloomy as the subject of poetry, here radiates a beatific aloneness reflecting the creative principle of the universe.

Basho's "feeling for Zen wanted to express itself in a type of poetry altogether in the spirit of wu-shih, nothing special." At the time the 'crow' verse was written Basho was consciously looking for the poetic beauty to be found in things not themselves particularly beautiful." Basho, through his poetic alchemy, could extract the special and the beautiful from subjects that seemingly, to those unable to tap into what Suzuki calls "the cosmic consciousness," lacked these attributes.

Spirit of Zen

Donald Keene points out that around the time this haiku was composed, Basho was studying with the Zen Master Butcho and suggests that 'The flash of inspiration that enabled Basho to detect in the quite ordinary sight of a crow alighted on a branch something of universal significance is of course akin to the spirit of Zen."

The crow that Basho immortalized in this haiku has taken on a mythic quality in much the same manner as John Keats' nightingale and Edgar Allan Poe's raven.

Influence on Modern Haiku

This haiku has exerted another kind of influence on modern Japanese haiku: Its relatively unrestrained form has inspired haiku poets to be more flexible in their approach to form. The nine-syllable second part has been seen by many modem haiku poets as an indication of Basho's artistic liberation from a strict 5-7-5 haiku form. In the introduction to On Love and Barley: Haikuof Basho, Lucien Styrk asserts that this haiku was proof that Basho "dared ignore the timehonored elements of the form, including the syllabic limitation." Styrk goes on to postulate that a new school of poetry was deeply and directly influenced by Basho's experiments with form: So rare in the history of haiku was such license that three hundred years on, a new haiku school, the Soun, or free-verse, school, justified its abandonment of syllabic orthodoxy on the grounds that Japan's greatest poet had not been constrained by such rules. This "crow"-haiku had a considerable influence on modern American poetry.

To conclude this excerpt I will share the translation of this haiku by Basho which I love the most:

autumn evening;
acrow perched
on a withered bough

© Matsuo basho (Tr. R. H. Blyth)


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