!! Second regular post of today, because of logistical reasons !!
Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,
Welcome at the third regular episode of this festive anniversary month. This month we are celebrating our 6th anniversary with themes that follow the alphabet. Today we have arrived at the letter C and for this episode I have chosen to tell you a little bit more about Chiyo-Ni (1703-1775) THE female haiku master who followed in the footsteps of Basho. She brought the teachings of Basho back in her haiku.
Here at CDHK we have had several episodes about Chiyo-Ni and her poetry is a joy to read. You all be familiair with that renown haiku about the Morning Glory:
the well bucket-entangled,
I ask for water
© Chiyo-Ni (Tr. Patricia Donegan, taken from "Chiyo-Ni Woman Haiku Master")
|Morning Glory (woodblock print)
Her poems, although mostly dealing with nature, work for a unity of nature with humanity. Her own life was that of the haikai poets who made their lives and the world they lived in one with themselves, living a simple and humble life. She was able to make connections by being observant and carefully studying the unique things around her ordinary world and writing them down.
At age twelve, Chiyo-ni's studied under two haiku poets who had themselves apprenticed with the great poet Matsuo Bashō, and many in her time saw her as one of Bashō's true heirs, both in her poetry and in her humble attitude of warm awareness toward the world and her simple living. She studied Basho's style of writing poems in her early years, although she did develop on her own as an independent figure with her own unique voice.
She was well aware of being considered Bashō's heir and on a portrait of Bashō she wrote in calligraphy:
fine not to listen, fine too...
She appears to say that while she did listen to him, she also did not copy him, "not to listen, fine too."
In around 1720 she married a servant of the Fukuoka family of Kanazawa, and had one child with him, a son, who died in infancy. Her husband died of disease not long after in 1722. She valued her independence too much, and despite her loneliness, she did not remarry, so she returned home to her parents.
It may be that after her husband's death Chiyo-ni lived with and cared for her elderly parents and worked in the families scroll mounting business. She wrote:
parents older than I
are now my children
the same cicadas
After her parents died, she adopted a married couple to carry on the family business and in 1754, at the age of fifty-two (by East Asian age reckoning), Chiyo-ni chose to become a Buddhist nun. "Not", she said, "in order to renounce the world, but as a way 'to teach her heart to be like the clear water which flows night and day." Chiyo-ni shaved her head and started to live in a temple with other nuns and took the Buddhist name Soen. She continued her writing and lived the rest of her simple yet peaceful life in the manner of haikai.
In 1764, she was chosen to prepare the official gift for Maeda Shigemichi, the daimyō of her region, to the Korean Delegation led by civil minister Jo Eom. Chiyo-ni crafted and delivered 21 artworks based on her twenty-one haiku.
Chiyo-ni died in 1775.
|The Eternal Grasshopper
sound of things
dropping from the tree--
a single spider's thread
ties the duckweed
to the shore
Roughly ninety percent of her haiku are about things in nature rather than the social realm. This kind of haiku practice emphasizing seeing things clearly, becoming one with nature, and living the Way of Haikai, co-emerged with her Buddhist practice.
|Dandelion (image found on Pinterest)