Friday, January 2, 2015

Carpe Diem Special #125, Sogi's first "this autumn sky"

Credits: photo
Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's my pleasure to introduce to you our featured haiku-poet of this month. I just recently discovered him. Iio Sogi, a pre-Basho haiku poet, of whom there aren't a lot of haiku preserved, but the ones I could find are gorgeous little gems.

Credits: Iio Sogi (Woodblock print by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi)
Let me tell you first a little bit more about Sogi (1421-1502). He came from a humble family from the province of Kii or Ōmi, and died in Hakone on September 1, 1502. Sōgi was a Zen monk from the Shokokuji temple in Kyoto and he studied poetry, both waka and renga. In his 30's he became a professional renga poet.
During his travels to almost every corner of Japan, he was welcomed by the most powerful political, military and literary figures of his day. He attracted more disciples than any other poet of his generation. After traveling throughout Japan, he returned to Kyoto where he commanded great respect.
He is best-remembered for his renga, wherein two or more poets collaborate to create a poem, by writing alternate stanzas. In Sōgi's day, such renga were typically 100 verses in length. Arising from the court tradition of waka, renga was cultivated by the warrior class as well as by courtiers, and some of the best renga poets, such as Sōgi, were commoners.
Sōgi is considered the greatest master of renga, his two most famous works being "Three Poets at Minase" (Minase sangin hyakuin, 1488) and "Three Poets at Yuyama" (Yuyama sangin hyakuin, 1491). This outstanding poet left more than 90 works (anthologies, diaries, poetic criticisms and manuals, among others).
Before his death, he wrote "Sōgi Alone", which mostly includes his memoirs. (Source: Gabi Greve's blogspot on Haiku Topics)

The most haiku used here this month were hokku for Renga sessions as we also know of Basho who also wrote a lot of hokku for Renga Sessions.

Credits: Autumn Sky

This first haiku by Sogi is a beauty and I think it will inspire you all. Here is our first Sogi haiku:

ah, for coolness,
it rivals the water's depth -
this autumn sky

© Iio Sogi (1421-1502)

In my opinion this haiku is an awesome one ... I can imagine that a cloudless autumn sky can bring the feeling of coolness even more than the water's depth.
How ... how to create a haiku in the same tone, sense and spirit? At first I couldn't find the correct words, but ... after a few less good versions I composed the following tanka, (not really my "cup of tea", but I had to try it):

taking a last zip
the coolness of the last drop of water
burns my throat

desertsand between my toes
ah, that coolness

© Chèvrefeuille

Is it in the same tone, sense and spirit as the one by Sogi? I don't know for sure ...

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 5th at noon (CET). I will (try to) post our next episode, first sun (Hatsuhi), later on. For now ... just have fun, be inspired and share your haiku (or tanka) with us all.

Gaby Greve Haiku Topics blogspot


  1. A wonderful tanka, Kristjaan. Thank you for sharing that enchanting haiku by Sogi for the prompt. :-)

  2. For someone who finds the tanka "not his cup of tea" -- you did extremely well! Very neat that you've made the cool drop of water burn your throat -- sometimes they do feel similar, don't they? Great tanka ----

  3. Today I was reading some of Basho's thoughts on poetry and he referred to Sogi's linked poems, so this is very well timed :-)