Friday, August 21, 2015

Carpe Diem On The Trail With Basho Encore #12 How Long

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's time for a new episode of "Encore" in which I share the beautiful haiku by my haiku-master Matsuo Basho one of the four greatest haiku poets (or as I love to say: "one of the 'big-five' haiku-poets). This week I have chosen a haiku which he wrote as a young haiku poet. Of course I will use (again) the translation of Jane Reichhold. This week's haiku Basho wrote in the summer of 1666, he than was 22 years.
One of the traditional occupations of poets was to wait for the first song of this bird in order to write a verse on the arrival of the season. The proverb matsu wa sen-nen ("a pine lives for a thousand years") adds to the classical wordplay of "pine tree / to pine or long for" which is one of the very few that works in English.

Shibashi ma mo matsu ya hototogi - su sen nen

how long
to wait for the cuckoo
about a thousand years

© Basho

A beauty ... not so well known as all the early haiku written by the young Basho. That's why I have created this CDHK feature "encore" to bring the beauty of Basho's not so well known haiku.
The goal is to write an all new haiku inspired on the presented haiku. For this episode I love to challenge you a bit more. 

Credits: Cranes

The challenge? You have to use the words of the first line 'how long'. No need to use 'how long' as the first line, but you have to use it. I have given it a try and this is what I came up with:

how long
until the barren rice fields will be green
cranes fly over

© Chèvrefeuille

By the way, cranes are a symbol for thousand years.
This 'encore' episode is  open for your submissions at noon (CET) and will remain open until next Friday August 28th at noon (CET). Have fun ...!


  1. I'm really enjoying Basho's frequent appearances this month. Thank you!

  2. I would guess that Basho was waiting for a young friend when he write that poem....