Thursday, October 20, 2005

Haiku: For Basho

The pillow now cold.
A quail hides under its wing--
his eyes wait for sleep.

Two thousand grieving.
Empty bowl on the table-
His breath drifts like clouds.

Forty summers passed
Now his Daisho buried deep,
Basho writes at dusk.

Without roof. How else?
You wander'd ronin; wing'd seed.
White foam when waves die.

The road is longing.
A hoary pine stretching up-
A worn bamboo flute.

Autumn river runs.
You watched a shiny-eyed frog;
three lines on patience.

They listened for you.
Grass bowing in cool sunlight—
You spoke with your flute:

“Won't you come and see
loneliness? Just one leaf
from the kiri tree”*

“In the cicada's cry
No sign can foretell
How soon it must die.”*

Walk to Osaka.
A sparrow sang in a tree--
your eyes ate the sky.

Hard ice shrouds the lake.
Dried leaf under worn sandals.
You left in autumn.

A cloud of glad wings.
Tancho cries over white lake:
You return with them.


Basho- Basho, Matsuo. (1644-1694).
Basho was born into a warrior family, but after becoming a ronin he devoted himself to the development of haiku as a literary form. He began writing hokku (17-syllable opening verses for renga) as separate poems, developing a new style called shofu or "Basho style." Basho proclaimed what he called makoto no ("true") haiku, seeking the spirit of this poetic form in sincerity and truthfulness. He also introduced a new beauty to haiku by using simple words. During the years, Basho made many travels through Japan. On his last trip, he died in Osaka, and his last haiku indicates that he was still thinking of traveling and writing poetry as he lay dying:
Fallen sick on a journey,
In dreams I run wildly
Over a withered moor.

Daisho- pair of swords a samurai would carry everywhere he went. Banned in 1876.

Tancho- Japanese word for the rare red crane.

*Original Basho haiku in translation. Others available here

More on Basho and zen haiku here

David being the wonderful soul he is, responded to the above haiku with this.


Anshumani said...

Check out my humble (really!) attempts

Said Adam one day -
No apple for me today,
Eve has a headache.

What is for dinner?
- Said Adam one day to Eve.
Apple pie and tea!

An apple a day
Keeps eve a little away.
Now for the doctor ...

How about that Priyanka san? Check out my blog in a few weeks for a very informative piece on jap warrior culture.

junoesque said...

frog in the well
to the blue sky

Basho lives on
'midst chaos

you woke me
to what
i must strive
to be