Thursday, May 14, 2015

On the Trail with Basho Encore (01), a grass pillow

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Yes ... you have read it right! A new feature at CDHK "On the Trail with Basho, Encore". I like this month a lot so I have decided to make Basho (and maybe later some other classical haiku-poet) a regular feature (say every week) here at our Haiku Kai. This is our first "Encore"-episode. 

Basho wrote several haiku for his students and followers. He also wrote the next haiku for one of his followers named Rotsu (1649-1738). In the preface he wrote:

"On the departure of Rotsu for Michinoku (the Northern part of Honshu)".

kusa makara   makoto no hanami   shite mo koyo

a grass pillow
is the best to use when coming
to view cherry blossoms

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

When the cherry blossoms are in full bloom whole Japan is going to view the cherry blossoms. A grass pillow was the best seat for sitting under the cherry trees.

According to Jane Reichhold, Rotsu was leaving to follow Basho's trip of the previous year to the Far North. Rotsu was rather notorious for his bad behavior. While in Zeze, visiting in a home, he broke a valuable tea container. Instead of owning up to the accident, he blamed another one of Basho's students. Basho got very angry with him over the incident. He only forgave Rotsu shortly before his death. But he was so concerned about the situation that he had left a note in his will of his forgiving Rotsu for this. Rotsu did attend the funeral service of Basho at Gichuyi Temple in Zeze and wrote a detailed report of the end Basho's life and death. (In this little anecdote we get to see a glimpse of Basho's temper which made him as human as you and I.)
I couldn't see the 'clou' at first of this haiku, but I had an 'aha-erlebnis' when I read the haiku again. I saw the whole picture. In my country we have a proverb 'who burns his buttocks has to sit on his blisters'. This proverb means that 'if you e.g. break something you have to pay for it'. Rotsu wouldn't do that. So Basho wrote the haiku with that proverb in mind. Because if you burn your bud you have to sit on the blisters. A pillow will be good than to sit on and watch the cherry blossoms. I had to laugh when I came to this conclusion. I don't  laugh now, because I have to write a new haiku in the same Spirit as the one by Basho. It will be a tough one.

Well it cost me a few days to write a new haiku, but I think ... I succeeded.

sitting cushion
a friend for today's accident
viewing the full moon

© Chèvrefeuille

Mm ... not a very well done haiku, but I will use this one in this first episode of “On the Trail with Basho, Encore”. Maybe ... another one will come to my mind.
It's a Chevrefeuille haiku, but is it also one in Basho's Spirit? That’s up to you to decide!

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 21st at noon (CET). Have fun! Enjoy the posts by Georgia (a.k.a. Bastet).