Saturday, October 6, 2012

Basho Revisited, fragile twigs

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)
Published and shared on:Carpe Diem, a daily haiku meme

Carpe Diem Special Badge

Also published and shared on:

Poets United's The Poetry Pantry

A new episode in Basho Revisited. It's a long time ago that I wrote an episode but now ... it's time again. Since the beginning of October 2012 I have a new weblog Carpe Diem, seize the day, a daily haiku meme. Here I give an every day theme or prompt and once in a week the theme is 'Carpe Diem, special' in which I share a haiku written by one of the haiku masters. For this first Carpe Diem month I have chosen for haiku written by Basho. So let's take a look to this week's Carpe Diem 'special'.

The given haiku Basho wrote when he was 33 years old, a mature man, and he had contributed it, together with 19 other verses,to a colossal poetry contest arranged by Fûko (a rich daimyo patron). The contest was entered by over 60 poets. Kigin and Saiganji Ninko were the referee-judges.
After the contest father and son Ninko created an Anthology of the results called Roppya kuban Haikai Hokku awase (The Hokku contest in Six Hundred Rounds). It was shown that of the twenty verses Basho entered nine were published, placing him as one of the best of the participants and that made him an established master.

That's for the background ... now back to the given haiku for this week's Carpe Diem 'special'. First I will give the Japanese verse in Romanji followed by the English translation.

eda moroshi   hi toshi yaburu    aki no kaze

fragile twigs
breaking off the scarlet papers
autumn winds

'Toshi' refers to a very fragile paper made in China. The idea of the poem was that even a fragile twig could tear the paper or the twigs were too fragile to hold on to the Autumn leaves.

Autumn Colors (Yamanaka Spring)
I can picture this scene in front of my eyes. A stormy Autumn day, the fragile twigs, elastic as they are, ruining the scarlet papers or the soft skin of the tree, but can't stand to hold up their leaves. Fragile as the twigs are they finally break taking with them in their fall the fragile paper or skin of the tree.
To write a haiku inspired on the one by Basho, in his Spirit so to say, isn't easy, but I have to try it of course ...

autumn winds -
colorful leaves struggling
their end is near

I think this one is a wonderful one (how immodest). It's for sure in the Spirit of Chèvrefeuille, but is it also in the Spirit of Basho? I don't know ..., but I think ... yes it is.

To be continued ... when I don't know ... (smiles)


  1. am so glad you started this event ~ hope it continues for long time! ~ lovely haiku with ...leaves struggling' ~ wonderful! ~ says so much ~ (A Creative Harbor)

  2. Even though the leaves' end is near, they go out with a flourish, don't you think?

    Scarlet Papers

  3. Beautifully done--and thank you for providing the Japanese text!

  4. Very beautiful and perfect for the season.