Monday, October 1, 2018

Carpe Diem #1512 Chiyo-Ni ... THE female haiku master (Renga With ...)

!! 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:

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)
Chiyo-ni was born in Matto, Kaga Province (now Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture), in February 1703, the eldest daughter of a scroll mounter. At an early age, Chiyo-ni was introduced to art and poetry, and she began writing haiku poetry at the age of seven. By the age of seventeen, she had become very popular all over Japan for her poetry.

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.

Chiyo-Ni (1703-1775)

She was well aware of being considered Bashō's heir and on a portrait of Bashō she wrote in calligraphy:

to listen, 
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
"Oneness with nature" seems especially resonant in Chiyo-ni's haiku. Basho's theory of oneness with nature was that the poet should make a faithful or honest sketch of nature. In the Sanzohi (1702), Basho's disciple, Doho, explains his teacher's theory: "Learn about the pine from the pine and the bamboo from the bamboo--the poet should detach his mind from self . . . and enter into the object . . . so the poem forms itself when poet and object become one." This experience is analogous to the Buddhist idea of satori, or enlightenment. When writing haiku, Chiyo-ni immersed herself in nature, honestly observing what she saw, as in the following haiku:

sound of things
dropping from the tree--
autumn wind

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)

Here is another beauty, not so renown I think, by Chiyo-Ni:

a dandelion
now and then interrupting
the butterfly's dream

© Chiyo-Ni (Tr. unknown)

A long story maybe, but Chiyo-Ni is worth reading, she is (next to Basho) one of my favorite haiku poets. She has created really wonderful haiku with scenes very close to nature.

In the above "story" you read six (6) haiku written by Chiyo-Ni ... what does that mean? Well ... I challenge you to create a Renga (a minimum of six stanza and a maximum of 12 stanza) together with Chiyo-Ni. Your task is to add the two-lined stanza of approximately 14 syllables to the renga. You can choose your own line-up of the haiku given by me.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 10:00 PM (CEST) and will remain open until October 8th at 7:00 PM (CEST). I will post our new episode later on.

Source: Simply Haiku
Source 2: Wikipedia

1 comment:

  1. thank you for sharing her history. I had not heard of her and now i will look for a couple books of her poetry.