Monday, January 9, 2012

Basho Revisited, such stillness

shizu kasa ya   iwa ni shimi iru   semi no koe

such stillness
piercing the rock
a cicada's voice

In my first anthology of my haiku, which was published in 1998 (on own account) I defined haiku as the poetry of silence and emptiness. I think that a lot of our fellow haijin (haiku poets) shall say the same of haiku.
Basho wrote haiku about stillness, emptiness and loneliness, as we already have seen in this series of essays. The above verse is, in my opinion, one of his best haiku with stillness as theme. The stillness of the mountains becomes very strong by the fragile voice of the cicada.
This verse is not based on reality, because a cicada's voice can't pierce a rock, but it works with what is felt (also a sense) and not with what is thought. By the way Basho wrote this haiku at the so called 'mountain temple' in Yamagata. Yamagata was one of the places which Basho eagerly would visit on his 'Narrow Road'

Ah! that sound
the song of a Nightingale
deepens the silence

Isn't it a nice one? I love the Nightingale's song and love to write haiku about it. I have written several haiku with the Nightingale in it. For example the following one:

an old temple
shelter for the night -
a Nightingale sings

It's a haiku I have written in 'My Narrow Road'.


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