Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,
My excuses for being late with this episode, but ... well as you could have read in the CD-Extra of yesterday, I am in the nightshift and that makes my day a little bit different.
This month we are exploring the haiku writing techniques which were used by Matsuo Basho, so this month it's all about trying to write our haiku in the way of Basho. Today's episode is about "riddle" and it was one of the episodes of our last series of Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques.
As a young haiku poet (maybe he was 20 something) Basho wrote haiku and one of the first poems he wrote and which have been saved was the following haiku in which he used this "riddle" technique:
has spring come
or the year gone away?
second last day
© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)
|first sign of spring, Magnolia blossom
The riddle is one of the oldest poetical techniques as well as a device to preserve and transmit spiritual knowledge. Zen Buddhists retain this lineage with the koan. It takes some explaining of culture and time-keeping to figure out the riddle in Basho's poem, but that I will give you later in this episode.
First I love to "dive" in the matter of the koan, the impossible question that brings you enlightenment.
The monk himself in his seeking is the koan. Realization of this is the insight; the response to the koan [...] Subject and object - this is two hands clapping. When the monk realizes that the koan is not merely an object of consciousness but is also he himself as the activity of seeking an answer to the koan, then subject and object are no longer separate and distinct [...] This is one hand clapping.
Okay back to our haiku for today to explore the haiku writing technique used by Basho further.
from a treetop
emptiness dropped down
in a cicada shell
© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)
I think you can remember this haiku very well, because we have had this one not so long ago here at Carpe Diem (May 8th, 2015). You can find that post HERE.
The trick in using this technique is to state the riddle in as puzzling terms as possible. What can one say so that the reader cannot easily figure out the answer? The more intriguing the setup, and the closer the correlation between the images, the better the haiku seems to work. The old masters' favorite tricks with riddles ran along these lines: "Is that a flower falling or a butterfly?" or "Is that snow on the plum branch or the blossoms?" and the all-time favorite: "Am I a butterfly dreaming I am a man or a man dreaming I am a butterfly?"
Sometimes the riddle is not actually set up as a question but makes a statement of improbability. At times the author supplies the answer of how this other reality can be; at other times the reader is left to find the solution.
entering the realm of the clouds
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until March 14th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode, forest, later on. For now ... have fun!