Thursday, April 30, 2015

Carpe Diem #717, Weather beaten

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new month of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. This month we will go "on the trail with Basho" and we will have only haiku by Basho (and a few of his disciples) to inspire you. I am excited and I hope you are excited too.

I love to tell you a little bit more about Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), whom I see as my master, of course I will not tell you everything in this episode, but here is an overview of his early years.

Basho & Sora (Oku No Hosomichi)

Bashō was born in 1644, near Ueno, in Iga Province. His father may have been a low-ranking samurai, which would have promised Bashō a career in the military, but not much chance of a notable life. His biographers traditionally claimed that he worked in the kitchens. However, as a child, Bashō became a servant to Tōdō Yoshitada together they shared a love for haikai no renga.
Both Bashō and Yoshitada gave themselves haigō or haikai pen names; Bashō's was Sōbō , which was simply the on'yomi (Sino-Japanese reading) of his adult name, "Munefusa".
In 1662, the first extant poem by Bashō was published. In 1664, two of Bashō's hokku were printed in a compilation. In 1665, Bashō and Yoshitada together with some acquaintances composed a hyakuin, or one-hundred-verse renku. In 1666, Yoshitada's sudden death brought Bashō's peaceful life as a servant to an end. No records of this time remain, but it is believed that Bashō gave up any possibility of samurai status and left home. He was uncertain whether to become a full-time poet; by his own account, "the alternatives battled in my mind and made my life restless". His indecision may have been influenced by the then still relatively low status of renga and haikai no renga as more social activities than serious artistic endeavors. In the spring of 1672 he moved to Edo, to further his study of poetry.

This month we will read a lot of his haiku and the translations I use are by Jane Reichhold. Jane gave me permission to use the translations of Basho's haiku in her book "Basho, The Complete Haiku". And I am grateful for that permission. Thank you Jane.

This month our central theme is "on the trail with Basho", because Basho was a traveling haiku poet as e.g. Santoka Taneda was in his time (1882-1940). This month we will (try) to follow Basho's journeys through Japan. And this first haiku which I will share here is from one of his earlier haibun (or travel-journals), "The Records of a Weather-Exposed Skeleton" (Nozarashi Kiko) in which he describes his journey together with his disciple Chiri along the places described by Saigyo, Basho's great role-model;

weather beaten
wind pierces my body
to my heart

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

This haiku was the first haiku in the above mentioned journal. At that time Basho's health wasn't very good. From his comments we can learn that he suffered from a chronic disease. This disease possibly is chronic colitis, but that we don't know for sure.

I will try to write/compose a haiku in the same spirit as the above given. For this episode I have used the Haiku Writing Technique baransu which I introduced in our Haiku Writing Techniques series. In this 'technique' is the goal to bring balance in the haiku through association.

cold spring breeze
makes the cherry blossom shiver
one heartbeat long

© Chèvrefeuille

As you all know cherry blossom is one of my favorite themes in my haiku, so I tried to compose a haiku in which the feeling in the haiku by Basho is translated into another feeling. I think this one is very strong ... a bit immodest maybe, but I even think this one is one of my best.

The goal this month is to try to compose haiku inspired on the given haiku by Basho ... not an easy task ... a real challenge ...

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

1 comment:

  1. That is one ofthe haiku you will be remembered by, Chèvrefeuille dear friend. What is even more fantastic is it is the one you start the month with. I agree with you, it is one of our best, and even better also because it is not in the same style as some of your other very best haiku. Perhaps because you went for the balance. Imagine, if your heart beat was felt by nature itself, or the cherry blossom. Truly, real balance, and what an amazing measure of time, and why not. That is a true haiku moment.