Sunday, May 31, 2015

Carpe Diem #747 arrival of summer

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new month of Carpe Diem in which we will celebrate SUMMERTIME by using the Saijiki (list of kigo) "A Dictionary of Haiku" by Jane Reichhold to whom I am so grateful that she is part of Carpe Diem and has granted me permission to use her modern kigo for summer and her haiku.

Summer, and on the southern hemisphere, Winter, is almost there. As I started to prepare the prompt-list for this month I first thought to make two lists, one with summer kigo and one with winter kigo, but that took to much time. So I decided to use the summer kigo because I am living on the Northern hemisphere. Maybe I will do that later on this year as we are going into autumn (Northern) and spring (Southern) .... but that's later this year.

Summer ... my season of the year. As you maybe could have read in one of our earlier posts I love to be in the nude in nature and summer is the season for that. Of course it's prohibited to do that in public, but here in The Netherlands we have places where you may be in the nude in nature and of course ... I can do that in my own garden if possible.
Summer .... the sun is on her highest point and nature is in full bloom. Temperatures are rising and (even here in The Netherlands) the rain is sometimes a long time away. I see the beaches and feel the warm sea breeze ... hormones fly through my body and at those times I enjoy looking back to the time I was a youngster and fell in love for the very first time, making love in the woods or at nights on the beach ... yes nice memories. All those feelings connecting me with summer and nature ... really awesome.

Credits: Arrival of Summer - oil-painting by Cristine Sundquist

Our prompt for today is arrival of summer and here in The Netherlands we are really longing for summer after a cold and very wet May ... of course we had a few warm days in May, but not as much as we have mostly.

Every prompt this month is a modern kigo (seasonword) for summer as gathered by Jane Reichhold and in every episode I will share a haiku by Jane Reichhold based on that modern kigo for summer. So today the haiku which I love to share is based on arrival of summer.

summer again
sun pennies in the sky
of the river

© Jane Reichhold

What a wonderful scene don't you agree? The sun reflects in the stream  and her beams are giving the surroundings a magical and mysterious look ... awesome.

mountain stream
the ice has melted - dances in the sun
crystal waterdrops

© Chèvrefeuille

Hm ... not a strong one I think, but it was the first thing which came in mind so I had to share it here. Here is another one but now I have tried to make a baransu haiku by associating on the images in the lines. I have taken the first line of my above haiku to start with.

"mountain stream" ... in this line I can associate on mountain and stream and than the following images appear; eagles, thin air, perpetual snow, bright sun light, bright blue sky and salmon, waves, water sounds, crystal clear, pebble-stones, freshness ..., but what to use in this baransu haiku for it's second line.
"salmon swims to the well in thin air" .... I don't know for sure, but I think this is what I would use for the second line. On what images I can associate? I can associate on salmon, well, thin air .... I have chosen to use salmon (in fact I use the spiritual meaning of salmon) in this third line.
"rebirth of summer"

Here is the final baransu haiku:

mountain stream
salmon swims to the well in thin air
rebirth of summer

© Chèvrefeuille

This haiku sounds great, but what do you think? Do I have to chance something in this verse? I love to make the second line a bit shorter, but I also want to capture and hold the scene in that second line. Maybe you, my dear Haijin, can help me with this one.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until June 3rd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, our first CD Special by Rallentanda, later on. For now ... have fun!

Carpe Diem Extra 21 - 2015 "A Carpet of Purple"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's my pleasure to present to you all "A Carpet of Purple" a compilation of haiku by Rallentanda, the winner of our first CDHK Kukai "Wisteria".

Rallentanda has made a wonderful compilation of her haiku and together we have created "A Carpet of Purple". I think we have done a great job and I hope it will be worth all the efforts ...

You can find "A Carpet of Purple" at the left side of our Haiku Kai where it is available for download.

Enjoy the read.

Chèvrefeuille, your host

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Carpe Diem #746 to hear the wild goose

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Today we are at the end of our "on the trail with Basho" month in which we followed in the footsteps of Basho while on his journeys through his beloved Japan. I think we have had a wonderful month with beautiful haiku by (my haiku sensei) Matsuo Basho. I hope you have enjoyed this month and that you have become closer to Basho and maybe "in love" with his way of haiku writing, as I am.

The haiku of today Basho wrote in autumn 1690. After his journey to the "deep north", he stayed at Dosu's cottage, Genju ("abode of illusion"), which was just behind Ishiyama-dera ("stone mountain temple") on Kokubuyama hill. The capital in the haiku refers to Kyoto rather than Tokyo. Some books classify this haiku as an "unconfirmed" poem by Basho.
Basho wrote almost 1020 haiku during his lifetime and there are several sources who say that a part of Basho's oeuvre is "unconfirmed". The truth will stay in the middle I think, but Jane Reichhold, who was so kind to give me permission to use her haiku, is in my opinion the one who knows the most, say ... she is the specialist according to Matsuo Basho.

kari kiki ni miyako no aki ni omomuka n

to hear the wild goose
is my reason to go
to the capital in autumn

(c) Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)
Credits: Wild Goose woodblock by Hokusai (1760-1849)
A beauty to end this month with. We are on our way to summer, but in everything around us we already can sense autumn .... the everlasting circle of life ...

at sunrise
the song of birds awaken me
after a cool night

(c) Chèvrefeuille

A nice one to conclude this month of "on the trail with Basho" I think .... Next month our prompts will be all modern kigo (seasonwords) for summer based on Jane Reichhold's "a dictionary of haiku". You can find the prompt-list for June 2015 above in the menu.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until June 2nd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, arrival of summer, later on. For now ... have fun!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Carpe Diem #745 moonrise

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As I told you in an earlier post Basho was a renga-master. The most haiku written by Basho were "hokku" or "haikai", in other words the haiku were starting verses or verses part of a renga. Today's haiku is one of his "hokku" (starting verses) for a renga.

As I was preparing this episode I ran into a nice haiku which has a kind of lesson in it and I love to share that one first, because I think it can help you to become even better haiku poets.

don't be like me
even though we're like the melon
split in two

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Jane describes the haiku as follows:

While Basho was in Kyoto he stayed with a medicine seller named Toko who was asking for admission into Basho's school. Basho gave him this advice along with the above poem: "The two halves of melon look alike, just as we are both alike in loving haikai, but you should not imitate me. You are a young merchant, so you should live in a different way than I do. I am useless, being away from the secular world". This poem is often used to tell people not to write like Basho, but the advice Basho was giving was that the young merchant need not live like Basho in order to write poetry.

I think this is true for all of us, and everyone who starts to write haiku. Try to find your own way of composing haiku, don't imitate the art of other haiku poets. I see Basho as my haiku master, but I had never the intention to be like him. Of course I am looking to touch the moment as Basho should have done, but I never will imitate him. How could I ever imitate him ... he was the best.

Back to our haiku for today. Today our haiku, moonrise, is a haiku which Basho wrote at Masahide's house for the first renga party of autumn 1690. In this haiku Basho compares the poets waiting for the party to begin to the brightening night sky. In this haiku tsuki shiro ("moon whitening") refers to the glow of the night sky just before the moon rises.

tsuki shiro ya hiza ni te o oku yoi no yado

holding their hands on their knees
evening at a house

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

I love to challenge you all a little bit. As I told you that this haiku is the starting verse of a renga I love to challenge you all to write a eight stanza renga starting with the "moonrise" haiku ("hokku"). The sequence of this eight stanza renga is three lines, two lines, three lines, two lines, three lines, two lines, three lines and the "ageku" (closing verse) two lines.

Here is my attempt to create a eight stanza renga with the above haiku as the starting verse:


holding their hands on their knees
evening at a house

on her wooden throne
grandmother makes me a new quilt

an open window
the sound of a chainsaw in consonance
with a woodpecker

the sweet perfume of young leaves
makes me dance and sing with joy

she smiles at me
love at first sight this is
25 years ago

eyes full of compassion
looking at the young leaves

blue irises bloom
the old pond becomes young again
a frog jumps in

she, the moon, reflects in the water
splash ... her face wrinkles

© Chèvrefeuille

Pff that wasn't an easy task, but I think I succeeded in a nice way. I am looking forward to your responses .... have fun, be inspired and share your eight stanza renga with us all here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until June 1st at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, to hear the wild goose, later on.

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge #87, Basho's "for the Star Festival"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

For this week's Tan Renga Challenge I have chosen an early haiku written by Basho. At that time he was 22 years of age and just starting to write haiku. This haiku he wrote in the autumn of 1666 and I think it's a nice one, but there is some need to tell you something first about this haiku.

On the seventh day of the seventh month, now celebrated on July 7, is Tanabata ("Star Festival"). This is the night once a year when the crow herder, the star Altair, crosses the Milky Way on a bridge of magpie wings to meet the weaver-girl, Vega, for a night of celestial love making. On a summer night, considered by the Japanese as the beginning of autumn, in this hemisphere, these are the two brightest stars seen directly overhead. If it rains the lovers cannot meet. Traditionally, on this evening people gather for outdoor picnics. Children of all ages make  wishes by writing them on strips of paper to be tied on bamboo bushes. The word uchuten is a compound word made by Basho incorporating "rain in the middle of heaven" and "ecstasy."

Credits: Tanabata Festival (July 7th)
Tanabata no awanu kokoro ya uchuten

for the Star Festival
even when hearts cannot meet

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

A wonderful Festival and a wonderful haiku to start our Tan Renga Challenge (TRC) with this week.

For those who are new at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai I will explain the "task" for this TRC. A Tan Renga is a short chained verse written by two poets. It looks similar with the Tanka, but the Tanka is written by one poet.
The Tan Renga has two stanza, the first the hokku, looks like a haiku following the sequence short-long-short line. The second stanza has two lines with approximately 7 syllables per line. This second stanza you have to write by associating on images of the first stanza. While doing that your second stanza makes the Tan Renga complete or continues the scene in the first stanza.

Here is my attempt:

for the Star Festival
even when hearts cannot meet
rainy-rapture                                  (Basho)

after a while the clouds move
finally the lovers can meet each other                (Chèvrefeuille)

Ah ... I like this little love story .... what a joy that must be to find your soulmate and become one with him/her.

This Tan Renga Challenge is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until next Friday June 5th at noon (CET). Have fun!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Carpe Diem #744 a river breeze

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

After his "Narrow Road" Basho stayed on traveling through his world, ancient Japan. In the summer of 1690 he visited Kyoto (nowadays Tokyo) and he wrote our haiku for today, a river breeze" on the river bank at Shijo at Kyoto. It's assumed that there is a picture of Basho wearing a light persimmon robe. That persimmon robe is the theme of this haiku.

In some of Basho's haiku he refers to himself as part of the scene or looks to the scene from a distance. Not very common for haiku poets. It isn't done to be part of your own haiku as haiku poet, but rules are there to be once read and than to forget them immediately.
In the following haiku he does both. He is part of the scene, but is also watching it from a distance. I think it's a great way to write haiku (unless it wasn't common).
This "not being part of your own haiku" is still in our times one of the rules. Rules? Basho once said: "Know the rules of writing haiku and forget them immediately". Well ... that's my way to write haiku. So I 'forgot' the rules of the classical haiku and embraced the rules of the Kanshicho style in which Basho wrote his haiku between 1683 and 1685. In that style the syllable count is different and less important. But as Basho said: "Forget the rules immediately". Well I can say "forgetting the rules feels good and makes my mind free". With that thought I have written and write all my haiku.

kawa kaze ya   usu gaki ki taru   yu suzumi

a river breeze
the one wearing a light persimmon robe
enjoying the coolness

© Basho (Tr. jane Reichhold)

With this haiku came, as was common use in Basho's time, a preface to introduce the haiku moment. Such a preface however can pollute the scene for the reader, who has maybe another scene in his/her mind while reading the haiku. As I look at myself than I am not a proponent of such introductory prefaces because I love to "make my own visual" of the haiku. Both, the poet and the reader of the poem are the heart and soul of the poem, together they make the haiku, but that's just my opinion.

Credits: Formal long coat (modern times)

"From the beginning to the middle of June, a special platform is set up right on the river bank at Shijo at Kyoto, and people enjoy drinking and eating all night. Women tie their sashes properly, and men wear their formal long coats. I see even the apprentices of a cooper and the blacksmith. They seem to have too much leisure time, singing and making noise. This is probably a scene that can only be seen in the capital".

It's a wonderful haiku and there is enough inspiration hidden in it to write an all new haiku as is our goal ...

This is my attempt:

hot summer day
lying naked in the sun
no need for coolness

© Chèvrefeuille

hot summer day
orest bathing in the nude
enjoying the coolness

© Chèvrefeuille
This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 31st at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, moonrise, later on.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Carpe Diem #743 from all directions

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We have just to go a few days on the trail with Basho and than we will close this wonderful CDHK-month. I have enjoyed this month a lot and I hope you all did enjoy it too. Today our haiku by Basho is titled from all directions and that brought a few things in mind.
First our Carpe Diem Haiku Kai Family has members from all directions and that makes me happy. Second this haiku title brought another idea in mind. A more sad idea. From all directions, everywere on Earth there are issues to resolve not at least peace. Peace right now is further away than we ever could imagine, but what makes me sad the most is the following. Once humankind was proud on its history, but nowadays our history is under attack .... not so long ago Nimrud and Hattra were destroyed and now maybe Palmyra is the next piece of history to be destroyed.
Of course this has nothing to do with our Haiku Kai, but sometimes I just have to share this kind of things ... and I hope you don't mind ....

Credits: Palmyra, and ancient Roman city in Syria

Back to our haiku for today from all directions. This haiku was a greeting verse for Hamada Chinseki, a physician, at his home, Sharaku Do, which had majestic views of Lake Biwa and its surroundings. There is a wordplay on nio, which can mean "a grebe" (Podiceps ruficollis) or "a plentiful water bird on the lake". It is also an abbreviation for the lake.

shiho yori hana fuki rete nio no nami

from all directions
blossoms blow into
waves of Lake Lute

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Lake Biwa is a very well known fresh water lake in the Northeastern region of Honshu (the Southern Island of Japan) and Basho has written a lot of haiku with Lake Biwa as theme. Here are a few examples:

open the lock
let the moon shine in -
Floating Temple

© Basho (Tr. David Landis Barnhill)

The "Floating Temple" (or Ukimi Temple) is located on Lake Biwa by Katada, and is reached by boat or bridge.

Mii Temple,
I'd love to knock on it's gate:
tonight's moon

© Basho (Tr. David Landis Barnhill)

Basho held a moon-viewing party at Gichuji Temple, a few miles from Mii Temple on the souther shore of Lake Biwa. Basho draws on lines from a Chinese verse by Jia Dao: "Birds sleep in trees by the pond. Under the moon, a monk knocks on the gate".

 Credits: Shinto Shrine on Lake Biwa
Credits: Shinto Shrine on Lake Biwa
All wonderful haiku by Basho about Lake Biwa .... imagine that this lake would be destroyed? Than we only had the inheritance of Basho to "see" how beautiful Lake Biwa was.

full moon
reflecting her beauty in the water
of Lake Biwa

© Chèvrefeuille

Another one a baransu styled haiku:

moonlight reflects
spring breeze scatters her beauty
I bow and pray

© Chèvrefeuille

Well .... I hope you did like this episode notwithstanding my shared thoughts about destroying history. It just had to be said ...

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 30th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our next episode, a river breeze, later on. For now ... have fun, be inspired and share your haiku with us all.

Carpe Diem Special #148a, Kikaku's "above the sea"

Dear haijin, visitors and travelers,

Yesterday (May 27th) I had planned a CD-Special, but through lack of time I couldn't write that episode, so I do that now.
Our CD-Specials this month are all haiku written by disciples of Basho and today I have chosen a haiku by Kikaku (1661-1707), one of Basho's closest friends and students. Kikaku has almost the same attraction to the beauty of nature as Basho had and he (Kikaku) has written wonderful haiku. Later in his life Kikaku fell in love with the city and his haiku changed dramatically, but were all beauties. Here are two haiku written by Kikaku to inspire you all.

this wooden gate
shuts me out for the night
winter moon

above the sea
a rainbow, erased by
a flock of swallows

© Kikaku (Tr. Michael K. Bourdaghs)

Both are really beautiful in my opinion and that first one comes close to the beauty of the haiku by the master, Basho, himself. In our regular episode for today, from all directions, we also see a haiku with "gate" in it, so I think that Basho was in love with the city too, but that's just a guess.

finally home
I shut the gate of my garden
ah! the Honeysuckle

© Chèvrefeuille

Honeysuckle (my pseudonym)
This CD-Special is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until May 30th at noon (CET). Have fun!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Carpe Diem #742 under the trees (an example of the karumi-style)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This wonderful month is running to an end. We have seen a lot of beauty in Basho's haiku and through his haiku we imagined that we were in ancient Japan. After his "Narrow Road" Basho undertook several short journeys to promote his "karumi-style" haiku. One of those "karumi-style" haiku is the prompt for today, but before I introduce that haiku the following.

I love to remind you at our new Kukai "summertime", submission is open until June 15th and I love to ask you if you would like to be our substitute co-host for next month. I will take a weekend off on June19th, 20th and 21st. Do you like to experience what it is to be host at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai than please let me know (see for details our new prompt-list for June which I have published today, you can find it in the menu above).

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

Ok ... back to our haiku for today. Today I have a nice haiku written by Basho in his "karumi-style". It was Basho's belief that a haiku without a verb is "lighter" (karumi means lightness). It is true that the verb often carries with it great emotion. Without it, the poem is more matter of fact and detached. This poem for today is an example of Basho's idea karumi and it uses the associative technique. Both the blossoms and the soup and pickles are under the trees.

ki no moto ni shiru mo namasu mo sakura kana

under the trees

soup and pickles
cherry blossoms

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Association, as e.g in the baransu-haiku is a method of linking as in the thought "how different things relate or come together". The Zen-aspect of association is called "oneness" - showing how everything is part of everything else. One association that has been used so often that it has become a cliché is the Japanese association of dew and tears.

For example:

wakaba shite om me no shizuku nuguwa baya

oung leaves
I would like to wipe away
tears in your eyes

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

One of Basho's major objectives was to find new and apt associations that made the reader rethink reality and the connectedness within. Association is very important in Basho's work, he used it very often.

Karumi is a concept that Basho discovered late in life. His belief in this method of writing was so strong it compelled him to take trips while in ill health in order to bring the concept to a wider audience. Several students abandoned Basho their dislike of the method, and others, even though they said they believed in it, found it very hard to define and emulate. Looking back, it seems Basho was trying to write poetry that was less emotional. Basho seems to have believed that it is the verb that carries the emotional baggage of a poem. The poems he considered to exemplify the concept of karumi best are the ones with few or no verbs.
In our times this technique of writing haiku without a verb produces what is pejeratively called "grocery list"-haiku. The above haiku (under the trees) displays karumi in the best way.

Here are a few other "karumi-style" haiku:

was it a bush warbler
poop on the rice cake
on the veranda's edge

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

glass noodles
few slices of fish
plum blossoms

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Credits: Hydrangea

And a last one, also one of his "karumi-style" haiku:

a bush is the little garden
of a detached room

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

More about the concept of "karumi" you can find in our e-book "Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques" (chapter 8)

Here is the haiku which I used as an example in our Haiku Writing Techniques series:
slowly a snail seeks
his path between Cherry blossoms
reaches for the sky

© Chèvrefeuille
This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 29th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our next episode, from all directions, later on.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Carpe Diem #741 wrapped in a straw mat

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Today we are continuing to follow Basho. Yesterday in our "a clam" episode we finished our "Narrow Road", but Basho didn't stop with his journeys after "Narrow Road". After his "Narrow Road" he made several short journeys to several places and today our haiku wrapped in a straw mat he wrote somewhere in the near of Kyoto.

To create this episode I used a post from my archives, this post was published in 2012 at

In the old Japanese culture, and maybe even now, the year had five seasons. Next to spring, summer, autumn and winter they had the New Year season (this was the last week of the old year and the first week of the new year). This of course was when they used the lunar calendar, which is more bound to nature.
In the Western world we used the lunar calendar a long time ago. When we look at the lunar calendar one year has thirteen months instead of twelve as we now use. For example autumn in the lunar calendar starts in august instead of September. So when we talk about the lunar calendar New Year starts on February the first.
According to the lunar calendar 2012, New Year starts on January 9th. According to this, I can place the next haiku by Basho at the beginning of February, halfway our winter, because as I wrote earlier in this episode we have to go to a month later. So this haiku could be written in February.
Straw raincoat (ancient Japan)
komo wo ki te   tare bito imasu   hana no haru

wrapped in a straw mat
who can this great one be?
flowers of spring

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)
With this haiku came a preface: “Welcoming the New Year near Kyoto”. In winter plants and trees are wrapped in mats of woven straw to protect them from freezing. People also wore straw raincoats so it seemed that a person was wrapped in the mat. This is an example of the riddle technique, because it is the tree that is wrapped but it is done for the protection of the flowers which have no physical shape at this time. In our time we also try to protect plants and trees from freezing by 'making the garden ready for winter'.

winter garden
colorless and ugly -
spring flowers

© Chèvrefeuille

The riddle is probably one of the very oldest poetical techniques. It has been guessed that early spiritual knowledge was secretly preserved and passed along through riddles. Because poetry, as it is today, is the commercialization of religious prayers, incantations, and knowledge, it is no surprise that riddles still form a serious part of poetry's transmission of ideas.The 'trick' is to state the riddle in as puzzling terms as possible. What can one say that the reader cannot figure out the answer? The more intriguing the 'set-up' and the bigger surprise the answer is, the better the haiku seems to work. As in anything, you can overextend the joke and lose the reader completely. The answer has to make sense to work and it should be realistic. Here is a case against desk haiku. If one has seen plastic bags caught on cacti, it is simple and safe to come to the conclusion I did. If I had never seen such an incident, it could be it only happened in my imagination and in that scary territory one can lose a reader. So keep it true, keep it simple and keep it accurate and make it weird.

Oh, the old masters favorite trick with riddles was the one of: is that a flower falling or is it a butterfly? or is that snow on the plum or blossoms and the all-time favorite – am I a butterfly dreaming I am a man or a man dreaming I am a butterfly. Again, if you wish to experiment (the ku may or may not be a keeper) you can ask yourself the question: if I saw snow on a branch, what else could it be? Or seeing a butterfly going by you ask yourself what else besides a butterfly could that be?
One famous haiku with this "riddle technique" I had to share here with you all. I think you all will know this haiku by Arakida Moritake (1473-1549):

A fallen blossom
Returning to the bough, I thought --
But no, a butterfly.

© Moritake 

 This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 28th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode, under the tree, later on.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Carpe Diem #740 a clam

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's my pleasure to bring another wonderful episode of Carpe Diem's On The Trail With Basho in which we are following Basho in his footsteps. Today's episode a clam is about the last haiku in his Oku no Hosomichi and I love this haiku a lot.

hamaguri no   futami ni wakare   yuku aki zo
a clam
torn from its shell
departing autumn

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

This is the last verse in Basho's 'Oku no Hosomichi' 'The Narrow Road to the Far North'. Because there are several word plays at work here, the Japanese maintain that there is no way for the poem to be rendered into another language. So here goes: hama (beach); hamaguri (a clam) however 'guri' is also (a chestnut) or (a pebble). And that is only the first line! 'Futami' (place name of the port where the famous Wedded Rocks (two large rocks considered to 'married' which are considered to be sacred) are such an attraction) is made up of the words 'futa' (lid, cover, shell) and 'mu' (body, meat, fruit, nut, berry, seed, substance, contents). The word 'wakare' can be either (to part or to split) or (to leave). Added to the last line (departing autumn) 'wakare' can mean either that it is autumn which is leaving or a person who is departing. In Ogaki, Basho was met by many of his disciples, including Sora who rejoined him, for the end of the trip back to Tokyo. This verse, and the second one in 'Oku no Hosomichi' are considered the 'book-ends' of the work with partings of Spring and Autumn.
Awesome! Isn't it! This haiku is a masterpiece.

Wedded Rocks
I love to write a haiku with the same words, but with the other meaning. That will be the challenge for this episode of Carpe Diem On the Trail with Basho. Of course I have to try it myself.

a pebble-stone
taken from the Wedded Rocks
a farewell gift

autumn has gone
the only thing that remains
a chestnut

a jackstone
broken of the Married Rocks
a farewell gift

Wedded Rocks (at sunset)
a chestnut
fallen into the grass
departing autumn

on the seashore
the shell of a hermit crab

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... it wasn't easy, but I think I did well. Are these my masterpieces? Or in Basho's Spirit? I don't know. You, my dear readers, may tell me.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 27th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode, wrapped in a straw mat, later on.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Carpe Diem #739 a lovely name

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First I have to apologize because I am a bit late with posting and second, as you can see in the title of this post, I have decided to use another haiku than I had planned. I had planned "tonight my skin", but I recently used this haiku in another post here at CDHK in which I told you all a little bit more about Basho being interested in man. Another reason why I use another haiku for this post is the following. The haiku "tonight my skin" wasn't (isn't) part of his haibun "Narrow Road" which we are following these days. So therefore I have chosen the haiku which I will share hereafter.

As you all know (maybe) the most haiku known by Basho were once part of Renga, a chained poem. During his journey "into the Deep North" (Oku no Hosomichi) he was invited several times for renga-parties.
The haiku for today is the greeting verse to the host, Kosen, the chief priest of the Hiyoshi Shrine at Komatsue (which means "Little Pines"), who held a party to write a yoyashi ("a renga of forty-four links"). at a place called "Little Pines". Basho's greeting verse was the "hokku" (starting verse) of this yoyashi.

Credits: Hyoshi Shrine

shiorashiki na ya komatsu fuku hagi susuki

a lovely name
at Little Pines blows
bush clover and thatch reeds

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

A wonderful verse in my opinion. As I read it another time I can see the scene in front of my eyes and I can feel the sphere of renga-party. Awesome.

what's in a name?
Mother Nature cherishes
young green leaves

© Chèvrefeuille

What a joy and what a scene ....

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until May 26th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode, a clam, later on. For now .... have fun, be inspired and share your haiku inspired on this post with us all ....

Friday, May 22, 2015

On The Trail With Basho Encore (2) fragile twigs

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Last week I introduced a new feature here at Carpe Diem to honor "my haiku master" Basho and his haiku. I realized myself that I had forgotten to write an all new episode of "Encore" yesterday (Thursday May 21st) so here it is a new episode of our new feature "On The Trail With Basho Encore" and I think I have a nice haiku for you all.

The given haiku Basho wrote when he was 33 years old, a mature man, and he had contributed it, together with 19 other verses,to a colossal poetry contest arranged by Fûko (a rich daimyo patron). The contest was entered by over 60 poets. Kigin and Saiganji Ninko were the referee-judges.

After the contest father and son Ninko created an Anthology of the results called Roppya kuban Haikai Hokku awase (The Hokku contest in Six Hundred Rounds). It was shown that of the twenty verses Basho entered nine were published, placing him as one of the best of the participants and that made him an established master.

That's for the background ... now back to the given haiku for this week's “On The Trail With Basho Encore” episode. First I will give the Japanese verse in Romanji followed by the English translation.

eda moroshi   hi toshi yaburu    aki no kaze

fragile twigs
breaking off the scarlet papers
autumn winds

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

'Toshi' refers to a very fragile paper made in China. The idea of the poem was that even a fragile twig could tear the paper or the twigs were too fragile to hold on to the Autumn leaves.

autumn colors

I can picture this scene in front of my eyes. A stormy Autumn day, the fragile twigs, elastic as they are, ruining the scarlet papers or the soft skin of the tree, but can't stand to hold up their leaves. Fragile as the twigs are they finally break taking with them in their fall the fragile paper or skin of the tree.

To write a haiku inspired on the one by Basho, in his Spirit so to say, isn't easy, but I have to try it of course ...

autumn winds -
colorful leaves struggling
their end is near

© Chèvrefeuille

I think this one is a wonderful one (how immodest). It's for sure in the Spirit of Chèvrefeuille, but is it also in the Spirit of Basho? I don't know ..., but I think ... yes it is.
!! I am behind with commenting I hope to catch up a.s.a.p.

This episode of "Encore" is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until next Thursday May 28th at noon (CET). Have fun!

Carpe Diem #738 not permitted to tell

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

During his journey into the deep north (Oku no Hosomichi) Basho visited famous places known from poetry and literature or known from religious meaning. He visited also Mount Yudano (meaning "bathroom") a very sacred (and secretive) Shinto place. Today's episode not permitted to tell is written after his visit to Mount Yudano.

According to Jane Reichhold, Basho wrote the following haiku on Mount Yudano (bathroom). On this mountain was a spectacular waterfall which had been a Shinto place of worship since early times. Only men could visit it and only after a rigorous climb with several rituals and services in various temples. At the gate, after purification rites, they must remove their shoes to climb the rocks barefoot. In addition, before being allowed to view this wonder, each men had to swear never to reveal what he witnessed there. In modern times, in interests of disclosure, the secret of Mount Yudano has been revealed.
Due to the wearing away of the rock and the reddish minerals in the thermal-warmed water, the waterfall looks exactly like the private parts of a woman complete with sounds and gushing water. The practice can be thought of as worshiping the reproductive aspect of the feminine earth.
The priest Ekaku had asked Basho to write some poems on his visit to the three holy mountains of Dewa. Basho couldn't do that because it was an awesome experience for him and so he couldn't find the words. Also it was forbidden to talk about what he had witnessed on the mountain.

katara re nu   yudano ni nurasu   tometo kana

not permitted to tell
how sleeves are wetted
in the bathroom

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Mount Yudano

It's a strange story, but it has also something ... spiritual. To write a haiku in the same tone and sense as Basho did ... looks like climbing a mountain barefoot, but I will try.

what has happened?
petals of red roses around
the morning glory

© Chèvrefeuille

another haiku inspired by the one of Basho:

secret admirer -
petals of red roses around
my morning glory

© Chèvrefeuille

A little bit of humor. Why? ... "my morning glory" refers to a certain male body part.

Blue Morning Glory

As I created this episode I didn't need time, because on one of my other personal weblogs I revisit haiku by Basho and this haiku (with a slightly different first line) I used several years ago on that weblog. So this episode comes from my archives so to say. (That weblog is titled "Basho Revisited")

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 25th at noon (CET). I will (try to) post our next episode, tonight my skin, later on. For now .... have fun, be inspired and share your haiku with us all.

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge #86, Basho's "this autumn"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Time flies ... it's Friday again so time for a new Tan Renga Challenge in which I challenge you to write the second stanza towards the (incomplete) Tan Renga which I will give the first stanza (hokku) of. In this "Basho-month" all the Tan Renga Challenges are starting with a "hokku" by Basho and this week I have a nice haiku for you to start with. It's one who Basho wrote in the last months of his life. That feeling of death is very well described in this haiku, I easily could sense that feeling of dying ...

this autumn
why getting older is like
a bird into clouds

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

I think you all can see, feel, sense that feeling of departure, the feeling that death is closing in .... It will not be an easy task I think to complete this Tan Renga by putting the second stanza (two lines following 7-7 syllables) towards it, but .... well that's the challenge ...

Credits: Clouds
And here is my attempt to make this Tan Renga complete by putting the second stanza towards it:

this autumn
why getting older is like
a bird into clouds

colorful leaves swirl
cover up an old grave

I have tried to associate on the feeling of death and dying with this second stanza and I think it makes the Tan Renga complete.

This Tan Renga Challenge is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until next Friday May 29th at noon (CET). Have fun!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Carpe Diem #737 since the cherry blossoms

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I haven't enough time today to write a long episode so this time I have chosen to create a small piece. I think you all know that I love cherry blossoms, I have written a lot of haiku about them, so the haiku for today is just great to make, because it's about cherry trees.

As Basho started with his journey into the deep north he got a lot of gifts from his friends and he also got a few wonderful haiku to encourage him to see special places worth seeing. One of them friends was Kyohaku. Kyohaku gave him a farewell gift in the form of a haiku:

pine shows him
late cherries

© Kyohaku

The pine of Takekuma was famous in poem and fact because it was split into two trunks. In an earlier version of this poem the first five sound units were: chiri-useru "cherry blossoms have completely fallen away.

since the cherry blossoms
I've waited three months to see
the twin-trunk pine

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

I wasn't inspired enough so I just leave you with this (short) episode.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 24th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode, not permitted to tell, later on. For now ... just have fun, be inspired and share your haiku with us all.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Carpe Diem Special #148, Ransetsu's "the childless woman"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As we are on the trail with Basho we cannot forget his students/disciples. He had several disciples and during his life he gathered a group of followers around him of more than 1000 disciples. It's going to far to tell you something about his disciples, but his most close friends and disciples were only a ten poets. One of those ten poets was Hattori Ransetsu (1654-1707).

I love to share a haiku written by Ransetsu with you all to inspire you to write an all new haiku in the same spirit as the one given by Ransetsu, as is the goal of this CD-Specials. In my opinion this haiku his gorgeous ... taken right from daily life and from the heart ... this haiku could even be used to honor all mothers.

umazume no hina kashizuku zo aware naru

the childless woman,
how tender she is
to the dolls!

© Hattori Ransetsu (1654-1707)

Credits: Basho's Ten close friends and disciples (Shoomon school)
I wonder .... how close were they to Basho?

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until May 23rd at noon (CET).

Carpe Diem #736 one patch of a rice field

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As I was preparing this month's prompt-list I have made a certain choice for the haiku I loved to use. One of those reasons was that I would try to give you all a kind of overview of the haiku by Basho. My choice was based on beauty and balance. I think I have done the right choice, but there will be of course a few haiku which you already know.
Today's haiku is a haiku which I have used earlier, because of Basho's love for the poetry of Saigyo. In today's episode we will see (again) a waka by Saigyo which I have used earlier. Saigyo (1118-1190), was Basho's great role-model. Basho modeled his life and poetry, in many ways, on Saigyo. Basho's poems (haiku) often contain references either to a poem Saigyo wrote on one of his journeys or to Saigyo's memorial home, which Basho visited several times.

In one of his haibun Basho wrote: "Heels torn, I am the same as Saigyo, and I think of him at the Tenryu ferry. Renting a horse, I conjure up in my mind the sage who became furious. In the beautiful spectacles of the mountain, field, ocean, and coast I see the achievements of the creation. Or I follow the trails left by those who, completely unattached, pursued the Way, or I try to fathom the truth expressed by those with poetic sensibility".

In "Oki no Hosomichi" or "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" Basho is anxious to see a certain willow tree at Ashino on which Saigyo has written a poem:

along the way
where water is running
in the willow shade
I have stopped to rest
for a little while

© Saigyo (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Saigyo's Willow
With the haiku for today came a preface:

"The willow tree with "clear water flowing" was in the village of Ashino, by a paddy path. Ashino Suketoshi, the local lord, had written to me from time to time to say, "I'd like to show you the willow", so I had wondered in what kind of a place it would be. Today I was able to stop in the shade of this willow".

one patch of a rice field
when it was planted I left
the willow tree

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold).

Well .... I will leave you with this, because why would I say more? It speaks for its own.

finally I saw
the willow at the crystal stream
sung by Saigyo

(c) Chèvrefeuille

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and it will remain open until May 23rd at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, since the cherry blossoms, later on.