Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Basho Revisited, wrapped in a straw mat

In the old Japanese culture, and maybe even now, the year had five seasons. Next to spring, summer, autumn and winter they had the New Year season (this was the last week of the old year and the first week of the new year). This of course was when they used the lunar calendar, which is more bound to nature.
In the Western world we used the lunar calendar a long time ago. When we look at the lunar calendar one year has thirteen months instead of twelve as we now use. For example autumn in the lunar calendar starts in august instead of september. So when we talk about the lunar calendar New Year starts on february the first.
According to the lunar calendar 2012, New Year starts on january 9th. According to this, I can place the next haiku by Basho at the beginning of february, halfway our winter, because as I wrote earlier in this episode we have to go to a month later. So this haiku could be written in february.

komo wo ki te   tare bito imasu   hana no haru

wrapped in a straw mat
who can this great one be?
flowers of spring

Credits: Japanese Straw Raincoat

The preface of this verse was: 'Welcoming the New Year near Kyoto'. In winter plants and trees are wrapped in mats of woven straw to protect them from freezing. People also wore straw raincoats so it seemed that a person was wrapped in the mat. This is an example of the riddle technique, because it is the tree that is wrapped but it is done for the protection of the flowers which have no physical shape at this time.

In out time we also try to protect plants and trees from freezing by 'making the garden ready for winter'.

winter garden
colorless and ugly -
spring flowers blossom

Not a very fine haiku I think, but it's the same meaning as the one by Basho.


1 comment:

  1. This is very interesting... I had seen straw rain coats in paintings but did not know the history ...thank you...