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.


  1. Wow...this is just stunning KP. Will read this a few times.

  2. Well....we are learning very important things these days, after the karumi-style, that I personallt found so fascinating. But aside from that, your renga is a masterpiece of the genre, for want of another word. Why do I say that? Because I read about the renga evening's in Jane's website you linked here, and I can see how you linked ideas with imagery, the woodcutting and woodpecker to young leaves to love a long time ago. It is going to be very hard to emulate the approach, which does not rely on direct, logical linking, but something further, and anyway, our theme is so good I am not sure how to find another! I will think!

  3. This was _quite_ a challenge, Chev! Your renga is skillful --- masterful. And once again you've given us so much in this post -- from your example, to the melon haiku, and all the background information. Thank you for another great post :)

  4. Thank you Chev....Your article and poem yanked me back 60 years or so to Okinawa and my first overseas tour.....a young boy, just out of high school, learning about the world....

  5. Well, I missed the deadline between swim meets and puppy sitting. if anyone cares to read. Chev, you are stretching my 68 year old brain so much! Your work is amazing.