Friday, May 15, 2015

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge #85, "the ancient woman"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's Friday again and .... it's time again for a new episode of our special feature TRC (Tan Renga Challenge). We are on the trail with Basho and as you maybe know every TRC this month will be a haiku by Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), one of the five greatest haiku poets ever.
For those who are new here I will explain the goal of the TRC. In the Carpe Diem TRC I will give a haiku, the first stanza of the Tan Renga. A Tan Renga is a short chained poem written by two different poets and has two stanza. The first stanza (the hokku) counts three lines (approximately 5-7-5 syllables) and a two lined second stanza (the ageku) which counts approximately 7-7 syllables and is a continuation of the first stanza through association on the images in the first stanza.
The goal of the TRC is two write a second stanza towards the first, say a kind of "answer". For this week's TRC I have chosen a wonderful haiku by Basho which he wrote in his younger years. This haiku he wrote at the age of 21.

uba-zakura saku ya rogo no omoi ide

the ancient woman
cherry tree blooms in old age
an event to remember

© Basho (at the age of 21)

Credits: Cherry tree view

The cherry tree is thought be personified, but the verse could be simply a play of words on another name of the higan-zakura cherry tree, the uba - old woman or nanny, zakura = cherry tree. There is also the thought that to see a very old cherry tree covered with the youth of new blossoms looks like an old woman wearing an abundance of powder and rouge. Still, Basho's last line seems to take a kindly view - this is an event for the tree to remember and for the persons to remember. Some authorities see a connection between the first four words of the verse and a passage in the play "Sanemori" spoken by an aged samurai, "I am certain I will die in battle. No event in my old age will be more memorable than that". Others view the use of personification as an indication of the Teimon style, the dominant renga technique as Basho was learning.

What an awesome verse to start this Tan Renga with. Compose/write the second stanza of this Tan Renga through association on the images in the first stanza. For example, you can use the image of "the ancient woman" or the blooming cherry tree.

Here is my attempt to make this Tan Renga complete by adding the second stanza:

the ancient woman
cherry tree blooms in old age
an event to remember                (Basho)

like a young girl she stands
strong in the wind, the old sakura               (Chèvrefeuille)

I like this completion a lot ... how immodest ... (smiles) and now it's up to you, my dear Haijin, to complete this Tan Renga by adding your second stanza. Have fun!

This Tan Renga Challenge is open for your submissions at noon (CET) and will remain open until next Friday, May 22nd at noon (CET).


  1. As anyone over 40 is now regarded as ancient I must find the time to write one for this prompt
    ( if I can find my spartacles quill and parchment:)

  2. LOL i like what Rall said, however i stand in reverence at this chosen sakura haiku

    much love...

  3. A very nice completion, Kristjaan. And a challenging post.

  4. I like your response to this lovely haiku!

  5. lovely haiku everyone! have a great weekend :)

  6. Kristjaan, your completion is just so lovely...makes me ponder.