Monday, January 16, 2012

Basho Revisited, wisteria beans

In Basho's lifetime it was common to write a preface to a haiku. In Jane Reichhold's "Old Pond", she has prefaces discovered by a lot of haiku. The preface shows some background information such as the place where the haiku was written and e.g. for whom.
The following haiku had a preface that's telling the reader where and when the haiku was written. This haiku was one of the first which Basho wrote after he returned home from his Narrow Road to the Far North.
First I will give the preface followed by the haiku.

"A certain Sogyu of Seki visited me when I stayed in Ogaki. I composed this for him in the lingering scent of the flowers which Sogi (1421-1502, a famous renga poet) had called the flowers of Fujishiro (white wisteria) Misaka". When Sogi had passed through this same area, he had seen some white wisteria growing on the slope and had written: 'seki koe te / koko mo fujishiro / misaka kana' (crossing  Seki / there still are the white wisteria / at the town in Misaka).

fuji no mi wa   haikai ni se n   kana no ato

wisteria beans
let's make that a theme for haikai
a flower fruit

In this verse the second sentence refers to renga. Haiku which are included in a renga are called haikai. As I earlier in this series have told the first verse of a renga was called 'hokku'. Just to inform you, my dear reader, the last closing verse of a renga was called 'ageku'. The ageku closes the 'circle' of verses of a renga by association on the first verse, the hokku. So a renga was an enclosed chain. You can say that the 'hokku' and the 'ageku' are the lock of a necklace and the verses inbetween are the 'links'.
I have been part of several renga sessions on the Internet (e.g. on Haiku-Ritsu, a Dutch haiku website). I loved doing that. An amount of my haiku were once part of a renga. I will include a few 'haikai' and 'hokku' after the new haiku I will write as inspired by the haiku of Basho.

what a party
writing a renga together -
waterfall of flowers

It's a new haiku in which I have tried to draw a picture of a renga session. Writing renga together with friends is a joyfull activity. Try it yourself it will be wonderful to write renga with friends.

As promised a few haikai. I have translated them to English out of Dutch (my maiden language).

This one was the 'hokku' of the renga "snow is softly falling":

snow is softly falling
along the windowglass
the fireplace burns

A link from the above mentioned renga:

a last leaf
struggles with the storm -
moonless night

Another 'hokku', this one is from the renga "spring heat":

tonight my skin
will miss the spring heat
it seems colder

And a link from the renga "spring heat":

midsummer night
in the light of the full moon
a young woman dancing

Well I hope you liked these verses from two renga in which I participated.



  1. you write with so creative... I have yet to come across someone with your style... and I like it:)


  2. Thank you ~L for visiting my haiku blog about Basho. I write haiku since the late eighties. I wrote my first English haiku somewhere in the beginning of this century. With that haiku I became a Internationally known haiku poet

    This was the haiku:

    lonely flower
    my companion
    for one night

    Not a traditional haiku in the classical sense, but in the so called Kanshicho-style, a style which is created by Matsuo Basho in the 17th century.

    Come visit my haiku blog again. Or maybe you will visit my other haiku-blog?

    Thanks again for visiting :)

  3. tonight my skin
    will miss the spring heat
    it seems colder

    very talented lines.