Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Carpe Diem Ghost Writer #31, "One of a Kind"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's my pleasure to present you all a new Ghost Writer post. As you all know Shiba Sonome is our featured haiku poetess this month. Today our CD-Special and GW-post are bound together, because I planned them both on the same date. So I thought to let Sonome write both this GW-post and CD-Special.
This week's Ghost Writer is Shiba Sonome. I hope you all like this GW-post (and CD-Special) written by her.


One of a Kind

Dear Haijin,

What a privilege this is to write this week's GW-post for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. I love to tell you about my master Matsuo Basho. I had the opportunity to be a disciple of the greatest haiku-poet I know, Basho.

It wasn't easy to become an apprentice, disciple, of Basho, but I succeeded. The most disciples of Basho were already friends of the master and therefor for them it was easy to become acquainted with him.
Maybe you know who his disciples were and I think it would be awesome to share in this GW-post not only haiku by myself, but also by e.g. Kikaku, Yozakura, Ransetsu and Kyorai. And of course I will share a few haiku written by the master himself.
Let me first tell you how Basho came on the idea to take the hokku out of the Haikai no Renga to make it a poem on it's own. Maybe you can recall the GW-post by Yozakura, the unknown haiku-poet. In that GW-post he told you the story about Basho's famous frog haiku, his first attempt to make hokku a poem on it's own. You all surely know that it wasn't Basho who re-named the hokku into haiku. That name was given to hokku by Masaoka Shiki. I have never had the opportunity to speak with Shiki about this choice, but I know that haiku is nowadays the name for the hokku as a poem on itself, and I think that's ok.
Do you know how Shikiu came to that name, haiku? I will tell you. The Renga (chained verse) was known as Haikai no Renga and the starting verse was called hokku. Shiki took the first onji (sound/syllable) from haikai "hai" and the second onji of hokku "ku" and so haiku got it's name.

Credits: Haiga Shiba Sonome's "deep in the woods"

Back to Basho. I was a disciple of Bashoand he admired me. After the death of my husband, I earned my living as an eye doctor and as a judge of haikai. It should be noted that it is due to Basho and his ability to work with women that the amount of woman's haikai writings have been preserved which we have. One sees that most of these women gained access to the inner circle around Basho by being related either by marriage or blood to one of his disciples. I was one of the few to be accepted as a poet on my own. He even wrote a haiku especially for me:

White chrysanthemum
I look holding it straight
no dust at all

© Basho

I felt honored as he wrote this haiku especially for me. I have calligraphed it and now it hangs on the wall. It's really a nice haiku and I still dream that there will be a day that I can write my haiku as good as Basho did. When I was his disciple and encountered a lot of other haiku poets, Basho had almost 100 disciples, and they were all great. Basho admired them all and was proud on what they accomplished during their time at his home. For example there was Yozakura, the unknown haiku poet. Yozakura was very much on his own, but at Basho's home he turned out to be one of the best disciples of the master. 

Anexample of haiku by Yozakura: 

feeling alone
lost in the woods around Edo -
just the autumn wind

© Yozakura
And than there was Kikaku, a very talented young haiku-poet, who (together with Yozakura) helped Basho tho write his famous frog-haiku with which he turned the hokku into an own poem. Kikaku has written wonderful haiku e.g.:

A single yam leaf
contains the entire life
of a water drop

Over the long road
the flower-bringer follows:
plentiful moonlight

I begin each day
with breakfast greens and tea
and morning glories

© Kikaku

Aren't they beautiful and so in the spirit of Basho's haiku-school with the idea of Karumi, lightness or enlightenment? Just the view, just the things you can see all around you when you are outside (or in your home) and give words to it.

One of the most popular and talented disciples of Basho was Kyorai, he was one of the best ...

Its not easy
to be sure which end is which
of a resting snail

Chanting and humming
gongs immerse the green valley
in cool waves of air

© Kyorai

Or what do you think of this haiku written by Ransetsu, also a disciple of Basho:

On the plum tree
one blossom, one

At dusk the harvest moon
paints a pine-tree
against the blue

© Ransetsu

Credits: Calligraphed haiku by Ransetsu (1654-1707)

And than there was Hokushi, whom also wrote wonderful haiku. Sometimes full of sadness, or full of happiness. 

For that brief moment
when the fire-fly went out...
the lonely darkness

I hung the moon on various
branches of the Pine

© Hokushi

Well all wonderful examples of haiku written by other disciples of Basho, but of course I love to share a few haiku written by myself ... just to show you ... that we, all Basho's disciples, could write haiku with Karumi.

Each time they roll in,
the beach waves break up
the plovers

from a tree-searing wind
a bull's midday voice

violets have dyed
the hills also

on a rock
the warbler's call

© Shiba Sonome

All beauties, as I may say so (smiles). Basho was "One of a Kind". I have understood that I have to give you all a kind of task to fulfill after reading the Ghost Writer posts? Let me see .... what kind of task I can give you?

Matsuo Basho, One of a Kind

In this Ghost Writer post I mentioned a few times Karumi. 

Master Basho said: "Learn about a pine tree from a pine tree, and about a bamboo plant from a bamboo plant.” 

What he meant was that the poet should detach the mind from his own self. Nevertheless, some people interpret the word 'learn' in their own ways and never really 'learn'. 'Learn' means to enter into the object, perceive its delicate life, and feel its feeling, whereupon a poem forms itself. Even a poem that lucidly describes an object could not attain a true poetic sentiment unless it contains the feelings that spontaneously emerged out of the object. In such a poem the object and the poet's self would remain forever separate, for it was composed by the poet's personal self.

He also said: "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”.

That my dear Haijin is what Karumi means. My task for you, dear Haijin ... try to write a haiku with Basho's idea of Karumi.

I hope you did like this Ghost Writer post and I hope it will inspire you all to write all new haiku with the lightness of Karumi in it ... I love to thank Chèvrefeuille that he has given me the opportunity to write this Ghost Writer post for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai.


I hope you all did like this GW-post and I hope to read wonderful haiku written by you inspired on this post and with that touch of Basho's Karumi. I have given it a try with the next haiku:

cherry blossoms fall
after a glorious time
tears in my eyes

pebble stone
sharpened by the brook
nature’s art

© Chèvrefeuille

First Cherry Blossom photo © Chèvrefeuille

I don't know if I have touched Karumi with these two haiku, but I like the simplicity in both ... so maybe I have touched Karumi ...

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until October 31st at noon (CET). I will publish our next episode, A Departed Soul (July 2014), later on. For now ... have fun!


  1. Wonderfully written! Enjoyed the moment in each haiku. Great way to start my day.

  2. Wow... So much work went into this. ..and so many new (to me) voices!

    Thank you, Chevrefeuille, for including Shiva Sonome as a GW!

  3. Such a wonderful set.. so today we should learn from the pine-tree... I took that very literary today...

  4. Thanks for this excellently illustrated post on the art of haiku. I feel the presence of the blossom and the sadness as well as the water's work on the stone.

  5. thank u for that beautiful and enlightening post .... to see all the world as a haiku waiting ...

  6. What beautiful examples you have given of Japanese haiku masters. Thank you for this post. Will read it again when I can devote more time to it.

    your love
    for poetry shines
    through giving

  7. Hmm I had tried to leave a comment before, to say how much I enjoyed the haiku here and how interesting I found all the information about karumi, etc, but... switching from WordPress to Blogger can get a bit confusing and I might've sent my compliments precisely nowhere :( So, here are some more :)