Monday, March 14, 2016

Carpe Diem #939 Old Pond

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

In a month full of exploring haiku writing techniques used by Basho there is for sure a haiku which we have to discuss ... yes here it is again Basho's renowned "old pond". This haiku we have seen very often here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, but in this month we will look at it from the perspective of the used haiku writing technique.

old pond
a frog jumps into
the sound of water

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

In this haiku Basho uses the "sense switching" technique, a technique which we have seen in our second series of haiku writing techniques last year.

This is a favorite of the Japanese poetry masters, but one they used with a great deal of discretion. It is simply to speak of the sensory aspect of a thing and then change in another sensory organ. Usually it involves hearing something one sees, or switching between seeing and tasting.

In the haiku by Basho, this very famous "old pond" the frog not only jumps into the water but also into the sound of water. The mind-puzzle that this haiku creates is how to separate the frog from the water, the sound of water from the water, the frog from the sound it will make entering water, and the sound from the old pond. It cannot be done because all these factors are one, but the reader arrivés at this truth through having the senses scrambled.

Here are a few other examples of haiku in which this technique is used by Basho:

cattle shed
dark sound of mosquitoes
in summer heat

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Jojakkoji Temple (Kyoto)

pine and cedar
to admire the wind
smell the sound

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

"Pine and Cedar" is not a well-known haiku, but the sense switching is very clear in this one. This is the background of this beauty:

The Jojakkoji Temple is at the foot of Ogurayama of Saga in the western part of Kyoto. It is considered the site of the villa of Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241), the famous poet who compiled One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets, which is still used as a card game (Uta-garuta). This verse crosses the senses with the line "smell the sound".

This haiku writing technique looks more simple than we think, but on the other hand it's a wonderful technique in which we can make our haiku even more beautiful, stronger, full of images and balance.

Here is my attempt:

the cooing of pigeons
between blooming cherry trees -
the cool rain

© Chèvrefeuille
Here is another one ... freshly composed, say an impromptu-verse:

jasmine blossoms
ride on the shoulder of the spring breeze
smell the wind
© Chèvrefeuille
This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until March 17th at noon (CET). I will publish our new episode, a new Tokubetsudesu episode, later on. For now ... have fun!

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