Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Carpe Diem Ghost Writer #23, "Honor the Little Creatures"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

After a week not having a GW-post, I have today a new GW-post for you all. For your inspiration and to get more to know about Issa. I have a real GW-post for you this time, because Issa is visiting us here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. I am honored that he would write a GW-post. He responded on our CD "Little Creatures" feature, because he liked the little creatures of Mother Nature.
So here he is ... Kobayashi Issa ... our Ghost Writer for this week. I hope you all do like his GW-post in which he will tell a little bit more about himself and his life.

Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827)

Kobayashi Issa

As Basho was the poet of life, and Buson the poet of the studio, I (Issa) am the poet of destiny. Basho, though his mind was tender and compassionate, had something resigned, something divine in him. Buson saw the world as a spectator. I move with the movement of fate. Life goes along joyfully and painfully, with ecstasy and anguish, and I go with it. I do not praise or condemn, but I am not withdrawn from anything which exists. More than this, I have that Shakespearean quality of not telling things what they ought to be, of not knowing better than God himself how the universe should be run, of not opposing the predestined accidents of life, or its strange course to an unknown goal. In the following passage from my Shichiban Nikki you can read that:

"I made a pilgrimage to the temple of Tokaiji in Fuse. Feeling sorry for the chickens that followed after me longingly, I bought some rice from a house in front of the temple gate and scattered it among the violets and dandelions. Soon they began to fight among themselves here and there. Meanwhile, pigeons and sparrows came flying down from the boughs and were quietly eating up the rice. The chickens coming back, they flew off to the branches again, sooner than they wanted, no doubt wishing that the kicking match had lasted longer. Samurai, farmers, artizans, merchants and all the rest are just like this in the way they live".

scattering rice, -
this also is a sin,
the fowls kicking one another!

Credits: Tokaiji Temple at Fuse

My life is a tragedy. I am one of those men who attract failure and misfortune, just as some men succeed in all they attempt. Christ, by its own nature, was destined for violent death, and I am marked for poverty and suffering, but in both cases the distant result is indeed different from what might have been expected. And there is another parallel between Christ and me. Christ is an ideal of what a human being should be, yet how Jewish he is in his loves and hates, his rising above the particular into the general. I also am the most Japanese of all haiku-poets, or it may be of all Japanese poets, yet in spite of this or because of it, my work has universal appeal.
They say I have a somewhat warped view of life, but that's a mistaken idea. I say, unlike most others, what I think. I tell not only the truth, but the whole truth. Ikkyu, a famous Zen eccentric of the 15th century, suffers from the same cause. Even in sexual matters he (Ikkyu) was perfectly frank to anyone and everyone, and his reputation has suffered according to that. I am, as like Basho, an exceedingly moral man, but not quite so 'stuffy' perhaps. Basho was born and educated as a samurai, but I have a broader view of life, one that can hardly be put into any rules of maxims. Her is another passage from one of my writings:

"Instead of the artistic pleasure of flowery gardens, bend yourself to the cultivation of the rice field at the back of the house. Take a hoe in your hand and use it; be exceedingly careful of the lives of your parents and what you have received from your ancestors. Be happy in your work rather than in the cherry blossoms of Yoshino or the moon of Sarashina.
More than the mountain roses of Ide, love the flowers of rape, and look after them sedulously. The green ears of the barley are more moving than the peonies."

Credits: Cherry Blossoms of Yoshino

In other words, life is more important than art; your art and poetry are to be put into our living. Beauty is to be found in our daily life; it is then created naturally and spontaneously. I have the power of saying lightly and humorously what others have only been able to say in the grand matter.

for your fleas too,
the night must be long,
it must be lonely

It's an awesome idea to see how you all, my dear Haijin, through that Carpe Diem Haiku Kai feature "Little Creatures" are looking to nature and intwine that beauty into your daily life. Look around you carefully, see those little creatures and honor them, because in all those little creatures you can see God, the Creator.

To conclude this Ghost Writer post ... I have a task for you all ... write a haibun in which you honor those little creatures. 



What a nice Ghost Writer post Issa has provided us with. I think it is very inspirational to read this GW-post and re-read it again. What a guy ... I must say "I am falling in love with Issa's way of life, with his way of writing haiku. Honoring those little creatures".

This episode will be open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until September 5th at noon (CET). I will post our next episode, our first CD Special of this month, a quote by Francis of Assisi, later on. For now ... have fun!


  1. Love the one about the fleas, but fleas are far from lonely, for where there is one, 500 more exist in that moment. 5 minutes from then, 1,000!! Such pesky little creatures..

  2. It was quite a while since I wrote a real haibun.. and yes I found my little critter to write about.. Thank your dear master to visit us.

  3. BTW.. I thought about bringing in the bedbugs (the winter kigo). So I write a bedbug haiku here instead

    oh that itch!
    price of one night stands
    sharing bedbugs

  4. Oh, how exciting to see Issa as our ghost writer for today! :D
    Thank you for allowing him to tell us more about his life and his vision. :)

  5. Kristjaan -

    Thank you for considering my toad haiku for a tan renga challenge.

    I would be delighted.