Monday, October 8, 2012

Basho Revisited, white poppy

This episode I will look closer to another not so wellknown haiku written by 'my master' Matsuo Basho. This haiku he wrote in the Summer of 1683. In that time he used the Kanshicho-style He called it 'in the spirit of the Chinese verse', in that style he didn't used the strict syllables-count of the classical haiku, 5-7-5. He wrote in this style 'till 1685. He even did re-write Kanshicho-styled haiku into the classical way in the years after.
First I will give the Romanji text and there after the English translation.

White poppies

shira geshi ya   shigure no hana no   saki tsu ran

white poppy
it must have bloomed
from a wintry shower

As you can see ... this haiku is in Kanshicho-style. Let's take a closer look at the Romanji text and count the characters (syllables).

shi-ra ge-shi ya (5 syllables or characters)
shi-gu-re no ha-na no (7 syllables or characters)
sa-ki tsu ran (4 syllables or characters)

And now let us look at the English translation. Is that also in Kanshicho?

white poppy (2 syllables)
it must have bloomed (5 syllables)
from a wintry shower (5 syllables)

ps. I have used a syllables-counter on the www 

The English haiku is also in Kanshicho. Kanshicho is just another way of writing haiku.  In our Western world we use our own way of translating the Japanese haiku and that's not always following the classical syllables-count. So maybe we can say that all Western haiku are in Kanshicho?
Well maybe, but as you and I know, in the Western world we have a lot of classical written haiku, sometimes convulsively counted to serve the rules of the classical syllables-count 5-7-5. I am not a fan of that classical style, counted verse, but I do like to write them sometimes. To me the classical way of writing haiku is very difficult. Maybe that's because English isn't my mother tongue.
By the way. The haiku written by Basho, the one in this episode, was published in a three-volume collection of haikai by Ochi Etsujin in 1717.

As you may know, my dear visitors, I write in every episode of Basho Revisited a haiku inspired on the one by Basho and that I try to write that new one in the Spirit of Basho's haiku. I would love to share here a classical counted haiku, but ... well I didn't succeeded in that task. So I have composed a new haiku in Kanshicho-style with a touch of Basho's Spirit in it.

poppies at sunrise

at sunrise
poppies still redder
sacrifice for God

Awesome! Gorgeous haiku in Kanshicho-style. Hope you enjoyed the read and of course the whole episode.

'Till next time.


  1. I really love this one. I can imagine poppies redder than the sun, wonderful.

  2. Beautifully said! May poppies be the only red, no more sacrifices!

  3. A sacrifice of poppies...there is something poignant about this image...

    White Poppy