Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Carpe Diem #1518 Inkstone and pencil (free style)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Nowadays we have computers, tablets and smart-phones we can as we are writing our haiku, tanka and more. By the way I am a little bit old-fashioned, because I still use paper and pen before writing our episodes for CDHK. I love to write old-fashioned, because than I can strikethrough what I have written before I publish it.

In Basho's days they used inkstone and a pencil, like we do nowadays with Sumi-e. Basho, as a traveling poet used those materials very often. It was easy to take it with him and it made it easy to write immediately.

I remember that we had the same theme in our 4th anniversary month, I will give you the URL to that post at the end so you can revisit it. I searched the Internet for a few examples of haiku in which "inkstone and pencil" are used, this example you will know:

suzuri ka to hirou ya kuboki ishi no tsuyu

Saigyo's inkstone?
I pick it up -- dew
on the concave rock

© Matsuo Basho (Tr. Barnhill)


Jane Reichhold's translation of this haiku by Basho I like more:

picking up a hollow stone
with dew

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

I also found a few examples of haiku on inkstone by Issa and Buson. Here are those haiku:

iiwake no tegata ni kooru suzuri kana

upon writing a note
of apology, ice
in my ink-stone

© Issa (Tr. David Lanoue)

kiku no tsuyu ukete suzuri no inochi kana

chrysanthemum dew
is the life blood 
of this ink stone

yamadera no suzuri ni hayashi hatsugoori 

the ink stone
of this mountain temple has it early -
the first ice 

© Buson (Tr. Gabi Greve)

young maple leaves (photo © Olga Volodina)

Another nice classical haiku by a not so renown haiku poet is the following:

waka-kaede kage sasu suzuri araikeri

young maple leaves 
cast a shadow 
I wash my inkstone 

© Mizuhara Shuoshi (Tr. Gabi Greve) (1892-1981)

(*) inkstone is translated in Japanese as "suzuri"

For closure I have a nice haiku from my archives on inkstone:

pen and inkstone
the only things needed on this
uninhabited Island

© Chèvrefeuille

A nice collection of haiku I think. I hope it will inspire you all to create your own Japanese poetry. As you can read in the title you can write in the free-style way. The haiku translation by Jane is an example of "free style", in the free style way you can let go of the rules for writing haiku.

This episode is open for youre submissions tonight at 7:00 PM (CEST) and will remain open until October 16th at noon (CEST). I will try to publish our new episode later on. For now .... have fun!

Revisit: "pencil and inkstone" episode 1070 October 1st 2016


  1. __ Happy to see your recent posts at that waning site, W.H.W. . Here, my humble senryu echo to your "Inkstones."
    __ Work and words; so often... identical aims. _m

    cut feathers
    paces from this ink stone
    history works

    1. Yes W.H.W isn't a real source for inspiration at the moment, but I just had to add a few new haiku I wrote very recently. I am not a regular visitor at W.H.W. Thank you Magyar for visiting Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. Feel free to visit again and maybe participate sometimes.