Thursday, October 30, 2014

Carpe Diem "Little Creatures" #11, "A Swallow" by Issa

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Issa is "the master" of "Little Creatures". He had an eye for those little creatures as we can read in a lot of haiku by him. This week's "Little Creatures" episode is about a wonderful little bird, the Swallow. I have found a nice "swallow"-haiku by Issa in which he also sees the humor of its actions.

daibutsu no hana kara detaru tsubame kana

a swallow
flew out of the nose
of the Great Buddha

© Kobayashi Issa

Credits: The Great Buddha of Kamakura in autumn

This great statue of Buddha will be the one at Nara, or at Kamakura. From the ordinary, relative point of view, we have a contrast between the sacred and the profane in the Swallow's flying out of the nose of the Buddhist image. From the absolute point of view, it is all the same whether the Swallow flies out of from the Holy Nose of Buddha or from the eaves of a public house. But the region of this poem is in neither the relative nor the absolute. It is in life itself, life which is neither law nor destiny but both. If, leaving this meaningless abstract talk, we reconstruct the poetical experience of Issa, we get the same thing, only expressed in more understandable terms. Issa felt the rightness of the Swallow's flying wherever its wings would carry it, yet recognized that the image was more than a mere mass of metal. Above all, he felt there was a significance in this clash between law and freedom, a significance which dries up into words when it is explained.

Credits: Great Buddha of Nara

Another verse by Issa, belonging to the winter season, which also illustrates his fusion of contraries, is the following:

nobotoke no hana no saki kara tsurara kana

from the end of the nose
of the Buddha on the moor,
hang icicles

© Kobayashi Issa

I like the style of Issa's haiku and it's really great to see in his haiku that he was very interested in the direct world around him. Every detail he saw and used in his haiku. I think he is really "the master" of the Little Creatures haiku.

Here is my haiku inspired on this wonderful set of "swallow"-haiku by Issa. I have not chosen for the Swallow, but for the Hummingbird, another wonderful little creature.

futsu no te derootasu no hachimitsu no tame no hachidori ou

chases for honey in the Lotus
in Buddha's hands

© Chèvrefeuille

Credits: Hummingbird on Lotus

Well ... I hope you did like this new episode of Little Creatures and that it inspires you to write all new haiku. Looking forward to all of your beautiful verses. This episode is open for your submissions today at noon (CET) and will remain open until next Thursday November 6th at noon (CET).


  1. What an image, the hummingbird sipping life from the hand of Buddha.

    1. Thank You Janice ... it is one the haiku which make me very proud ... by the way it's the third or fourth version of this one.

  2. This is an amazing haiku, Chevrefeuille :)