Saturday, June 4, 2016

Carpe Diem Utabukuro #11 (restarting an old feature) "Wisteria Beans" by Matsuo Basho

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's my pleasure to "restart" an old special feature we have had here at Carpe Diem haiku Kai. Maybe you can remember that special feature or maybe you can remember one of the latest Tokubetsudesu episodes

This feature is based on a haiku by Basho which he wrote when he was around 22 years of age, it's one of his earliest known haiku according to Jane Reichhold. I have called this new feature "Carpe Diem Utabukuro" , which means "poem bag".

The logo above is a bag with a wonderful print of a Japanese woodblock and in the logo you can read the romaji translation of the haiku on which this new feature is based. I will give that haiku here again:

hana ni akanu
nageki ya kochi no

© Basho
Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), my sensei

And this is the translation by Jane Reichhold:

flower buds
sadly spring winds cannot open
a poem bag

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

In her compilation of all Basho's haiku "Basho, the complete haiku" she gives the following description of this haiku:

1667 - spring. Because Basho has used kochi instead of the conventional ware for "my", the verse has two distinct versions. The associative technique is the idea that the flowers are not yet opened and neither is Basho's bag of poems (Utabukuro). The unopened purse of poems is like the flower bud in its potential for beauty.

The goal of this CDHK feature is not difficult, because I just ask you to share a haiku or tanka which you admire. That haiku or tanka can be one of a classical or non-classical haiku poet or one by you. You can choose whatever you like, but it has to be a haiku or tanka. Maybe the haiku brings you sweet (or sad) memories or you just like it. Explain why you have chosen that haiku or tanka to share here "in" CDHK's Utabukuro, poem bag and ... that's the second task for this feature, write/compose an all new haiku inspired on the one you have chosen.


For this "restarting" Utabukuro episode I have chosen a beautiful haiku by my sensei, Matsuo Basho.

fuji no mi wa   haikai ni se n   kana no ato

wisteria beans
let's make that a theme for haikai
a flower fruit 

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

With this haiku came a preface, which was very common in Basho's time:

"A certain Sogyu of Seki visited me when I stayed in Ogaki. I composed this for him in the lingering scent of the flowers which Sogi (1421-1502, a famous renga poet) had called the flowers of Fujishiro (white wisteria) Misaka". When Sogi had passed through this same area, he had seen some white wisteria growing on the slope and had written: 'seki koe te / koko mo fujishiro / misaka kana' (crossing  Seki / there still are the white wisteria / at the town in Misaka).

In this verse the second sentence refers to renga. Haiku which are included in a renga are called haikai. As you (maybe) know Basho was a renga-master and he has written a lot of "hokku" and "haikai".

Waterfall of Flowers

And here is my haiku inspired on this beauty by Basho, my sensei, I hope he will like it.

what a party
writing a renga together -
waterfall of flowers

© Chèvrefeuille

It's a new haiku in which I have tried to draw a picture of a renga session. Writing renga together with friends is a joyfull activity. Try it yourself it will be wonderful to write renga with friends (as we have done twice already here at CDHK).

This Utabukuro episode is open for your submissions at noon (CET) and will remain open until next Saturday at noon (CET). I am looking forward to your favorites and newly written haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form. Have fun!

1 comment:

  1. My Carpe Diem Utabukuro # 11 offering which I have chosen because I love the birds. Their lives are so short and so easily taken from them. I am touched by their fragility each time I watch them.

    summer clouds -
    two swans passing
    beat for beat John Crook

    wind tugging at the cattails
    a swan plucks down
    to soften her nest