Posts Tagged ‘haiku’

Churn snow ゆきちゃーん!

March 24, 2012


Churn snow!
♡ I now carefully
You I want to meet soon


Churn snow!
♡ I now slowly
You I want to meet soon

— Mio Baba

The Narrow Road to the Disaster Zone

March 22, 2012

Matsuo Basho wrote The Narrow Road to the Deep North, a classic of haiku poetry, an account of a journey he made in 1689. He visited several places famous for their beauty, and because they had inspired poets in years gone by. The path he trod and the places he visited were devastated by the Tsunami that struck Japan a year ago.

To mark the first anniversary of the Tsunami and in honour of Basho, poet Stephen Henry Gill followed in the footsteps of Basho and like Basho wrote haiku poetry on what he saw and experienced.

No sooner had the spring mist begun to rise over the field than I wanted to be on the road again to cross the barrier-gate of Shirakawa in due time.

“Dousojin no maneki ni aite torumono teni tsukazu” 道祖神のまねきにあひて、取もの手につかず
(Not recorded in English:
Beckoned by Dosojin [the guardian spirit of travellers],
unable to put my hand to anything)

I was already dreaming of the full moon
rising over the islands of Matsushima.
“Matsushima no tsuki mazu Kokoro ni Kakarite” 松島の月まづ心にかかりて

“Natsukusa ya Tsuwamono domo ga Yume no ato” 夏草や兵どもが夢の後
These summer grasses
all that now remains of great warriors’ dreams. 

“Ishi no ka ya natsukusa akaku tsuyu atsuhi” 石の香や 夏草赤く 露あつし
Fumes from the stone
the summergrassis redden
the morning dew is hot

The gods seem to have possessed my soul and turned it inside out, and roadside images seemed to invite me from every corner.

With the pain of this secret love
my heart is full of tangled thoughts
like the wild fern patterns dyed on Shinobu cloth
of the far off north. (9C, by Minamoto no Toru)
陸奥(みちのく)の しのぶもぢずり 誰(たれ)ゆゑに 乱れそめにし われならなくに 河原左大臣

“Sanae toru temoto ya mukashi Shinobuzuri” さなえとるてもとやむかし しのぶずり
The busy hands
Of rice-planting girls,
Reminiscent somehow
of the old dyeing technique.

Late night thaw,
Snow crashing down from rooves:
As Basho’s was,
Another sleepless night?

“Dousojin no maneki ni aite torumono teni tsukazu” 道祖神のまねきにあひて、取もの手につかず
“Matsushima no tsuki mazu Kokoro ni Kakarite” (松島の月まづ心にかかりて)
I was already dreaming of the full moon
rising over the islands of Matsushima.

“Matsushima ya tsuru ni miokare hototogisu” 松島や鶴に見置かれほととぎす
Clear voiced cuckoo,
Even you will need The silver wings of a crane
To span the islands of Matsushima.

“Hamaguri no futamini wakare yuku akizo” はまぐり のふたみに別れ行く秋ぞ
As firmly cemented clam-shells. Fall apart in autumn, So I must take to the road again,
Farewell, my friends.

Many thanks to my lovely Japanese friend Misako Yoke for transcribing and posting on her blog.

Originally broadcast by the BBC on the first anniversary, but the BBC once again shoot themselves in the foot and fail to keep the programme on-line (two days left to listen).

It is a tradition of Paulo Coelho to mark St Joseph’s Day with a party for his friends. He always starts with prayers, first in Portuguese, then in many other languages. Yumi Crane spoke of the Tsunami. It was very moving. She was in tears. I was holding the hand of Mio. She was in tears. I was in tears. It was exactly one year, one week, one day since the Tsunami struck.

Songs From Tokyo was written and performed by Lindee Hoshikawa in memory of the Japanese tsunami.

Love Is …

February 16, 2010
For Sian on St Valentine' Day

For Sian on St Valentine' Day

Loving thoughts, soulful music … heart, dances!

Oh, music is the meat of all who love.

Music uplifts the soul to realms above.

— Rumi

What struck me was that the first line is a haiku! As can be seen if I re-structure.

Loving thoughts,
soulful music …
heart, dances!

Music and divine love, I am reminded of Hildegard von Bingen. She was a medieval mystic who wrote divine music and said she was ‘a feather on the breath of God’.

Special thanks to Jane Stewart who sent me these lines on St Valentine’s Day.

Also see

The accommodating point

What a miracle

In your midst


February 11, 2010

Haiku is a Japanese form of minimalist poetry closely associated with Zen.

Haiku developed from renku. A poet wrote a line of seventeen syllables. A line of fourteen syllables was added by a second poet, followed by a line of seventeen syllables that would be linked to the first two lines. A fourth poet would add a fourth line, and so on.

Hokku consisted of the opening line. From Hokku developed haiku, a minimalist form of poetry broken down into three blocks of seven, five and seven syllables.

In the west haiku is written as three lines, but in Japan it is one line.

Haiku is used in Zen as a meditation technique.

An excellent example of modern haiku is the beautiful The marriage bed by Sian Peters.

Also see

The Old Pond


Four haiku by Basho

Leaves falling

A Zen Wave


The marriage bed

February 11, 2010

Warmth and musky scent,
Up! The erection –
The marriage bed.

— Sian Peters

Haiku is a Japanese minimalist form of poetry consisting of seventeen syllables arranged as seven, five, seven.

The Old Pond

February 9, 2010

The old pond;
A frog jumps in –
The sound of the water.

— Basho

One can visualise the scene of an old overgrown pond, one can hear the plop as the frog jumps in.

Taken from A Zen Wave by Robert Aitken.

Also see


Four haiku by Basho

Leaves falling


January 30, 2010

You are the butterfly
And I the dreaming heart
Of Chuang-tzu.

— Basho

This haiku from Basho is a reference the writing of Chuang-tzu:

Once Chuang Chou dreamt he was a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Chuang Chou. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakably Chuang Chou. But he didn’t know if he was Chuang Chou who dreamt he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Chou. Between Chuang-chou and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.

Chuang-tzu was a Taoist teacher and writer who lived in the fourth century BC.

Basho was a Zen master and writer of haiku poetry. He wrote:

You’re the butterfly, and I the dreaming heart of Chuang-tzu. I don’t know if I’m Basho who dreamed with the heart-mind of Chuang-tzu that I was a butterfly named Doi, or that winged Mr Doi dreaming he is Basho.

Doi was a friend of Basho who had given him a writing brush.

Taken from A Zen Wave by Robert Aitken.

For my lovely friend Sian who drew this haiku to my attention.

Also see

Four haiku by Basho

Leaves falling


Leaves falling

January 29, 2010

Leaves falling
Lie on one another;
The rain beats the rain.

Sadly I know not who wrote this haiku.

Haiku is a minimalist form of Zen poetry of seventeen syllables.

For my lovely friend Sian.

Also see

Four haiku by Basho

A Zen Wave


Four haiku by Basho

January 21, 2010

Autumn –
Even the birds
and clouds look old.

Year’s end,
all corners
of this floating world, swept.

Cormorant fishing:
how stirring,
how saddening.

Not last night,
not this morning;
melon flowers bloomed.

Haiku taken from Zen, a beautifully illustrated book of Zen writings.

Haiku is a minimalist form of only seventeen syllables. Like koans, they give an insight.

An excellent guide to the work of Japanese Zen master and poet Basho (1644-1894) is A Zen Wave by Robert Aitkin.

For Sian to whom I read these four haiku one evening.

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