Friday, September 18, 2020

Carpe Diem Preview: A taste of Basho's school for haiku, our new feature, soon to come: Hosomi


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I just had to publish a post, just ... because it has been a while. As I told you in our recent CDHK Extra post I will start with a new feature here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. That new feature is titled "Basho's School at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai".

In this new feature I hope to share the knowledge of Basho, as he taught at his school. I am looking forward to that new feature, and today I love to give you already a "taste" of it.


Poets are often seen as highly sensitive people, people that can hear and see what ordinary people don't hear or see, as if poets have a thin thread bound to the heart of the essence of life, connected with all and everything around them. Poets have the gift to see the most tiny things around them, think for example about that gorgeous haiku by Basho about "Shepherd's Purse":

furu hata ya nazuna hana saku kakine kana

if you look closely
a Sheperd's Purse flowering
underneath the hedge

© Matsuo Basho (1686)

In Basho's School this hyper-sensitivity is called "hosomi". Poets who are enlightened can find that inner spot to become one with their surroundings, one with nature, as if they are becoming part of it. A kind of hyper-sensitivity for that what you cannot see and that's not visible for others.

Part of this "hosomi" we can see in several haiku by classical haiku poets. An example:

a breath of fresh air -
the voice of the pine trees
fills the empty sky

© Ueshima Onitsura (1661-1738) (Tr. Chèvrefeuille)

In this beautiful haiku by Onitsura we read, what is called "hosomi" ... "the voice of the pine trees, fills the empty sky". This is what "hosomi" is. 

In Western poetry, "hosomi", is the same like "hyperbole" or "exaggeration". Exaggeration is used already several decates to create haiku with. So let us look at another example, maybe you can see the "hyperbole" or "exaggeration".

is that the murmur of the mist -
that almost imperceptible
there among the birches?

© Mizuhara Shuoshi (1822-1981) (Tr. Chèvrefeuille)

I think this "hosomi", this "hyperbole" is a wonderful technique to use in your haiku (or tanka). The goal for this "taste of Basho's School" is to create a haiku (or tanka) in which you use this "hosomi" or "hyperbole".

Here is my haiku in which I hope you can see this "hosomi", this "hyperbole":

deep silence
I can hear the grass grow -
a new day rises

© Chèvrefeuille, your host.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions. You can click on our logo (at the bottom of this episode) to submit your haiku in which you use this "hosomi", this "hyperbole" haiku writing technique.

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