Friday, May 8, 2015

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge #84, "from a treetop"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First I love to thank you all for your kind words according the "trouble" at my work. Yesterday I have had a wonderful, very spiritual, conversation with my head of unit. It was really a beautiful conversation and the problems which were the reason for my "conflict" have been solved. Really it's great to open up in a conversation and meet each other in the middle to come closer to each other. It was really an experience which had to be I think.

Ok ... back to our Tan Renga Challenge. We are on the trail with Basho as you all know and the Tan Renga of today starts with a beautiful haiku composed by Basho. Again a haiku which isn't well known, but it's a beauty. This haiku was for sure the starting verse or "hokku" for a Renga session in which Basho was part of. He is in his early thirties, already a well known Renga master, and his haiku are becoming better and better ... and more beautiful. Ok ... enough trumpeting .... you all know how much I adore Basho and his haiku. Here is our "hokku" for this new Tan Renga Challenge:

from a treetop
emptiness dropped down
in a cicada shell

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Well .... I think I have said nothing to much about this haiku .... a real beauty, maybe one of his best haiku he ever wrote, but that's just my humble opinion, but I am of course prejudiced (smiles).

Credits: Cicada shell
In this haiku I read Zen ... and the scene is Zen I think. Basho as always is on the trail and has eye for everything and everyone around him. He is really part of nature and is one with it. He has eye for the little things and is in complete awe as he sees the empty shell of a cicada lying under a tree. This shell is empty, but once was full of life ... Is this shell really empty? I would ask myself and as I give this a thought than I say ... "no this shell isn't empty, in this empty shell is still the cicada present ..."

The goal of this Tan Renga Challenge is to make the Tan Renga complete by writing the second (two lined) stanza with approximately 7 syllables (or sounds, onji) per line by associating on the images in the first stanza. Of course I had to try it myself, but it wasn't easy.

from a treetop
emptiness dropped down
in a cicada shell                   (Basho)

the soothing sound of spring rain
makes the silence stronger                     (Chèvrefeuille)

A nice completion I think. Can you explore how I came to this second stanza?

This Tan Renga Challenge is open for your submissions today at noon (CET) and will remain open until next Friday May 15th at noon (CET). Have fun!


  1. It took me time to appreciate Basho's hokku, but when I did, with your help too, I saw what you mean about it being so good! The rain falls too, softly. The rain marks time, and the steady backdrop of rain makes a contrast to the empty silence. The rain, like the shell, nourishes the earth, but it is this emptiness inside that we are occupied with, like the spaces between the raindrops like the pauses between words. But the sound of the rain is also your applause to the hollu, or haiku. That sound of steady applause is made stronger by the use of six 's's in your lines.

  2. This is a beautiful completion. I appreciated how your comments on Basho's hokku and Hamish's comments on your's broadened my views. Quite lovely... Pleased for your work resolutions. Namaste.