Wednesday, May 20, 2015

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.


  1. Mine is late, but up at:

  2. I really like the possible dual meaning you have in your haiku, Chèvrefeuille - the historical seeing of the actual willow or the sense of "finally I saw" in the present day because of Saigyo's song. Both meanings read so naturally.