hamaguri no futami ni wakare yuku aki zo
torn from its shell
As I wrote above this is the last verse in Basho's 'Oku no Hosomichi' 'The Narrow Road to the Far North'. Because there are several word plays at work here, the Japanese maintain that there is no way for the poem to be rendered into another language. So here goes: hama (beach); hamaguri (a clam) however 'guri' is also (a chestnut) or (a pebble). And that is only the first line! 'Futami' (place name of the port where the famous Wedded Rocks (two large rocks considered to 'married' which are considered to be sacred) are such an attraction) is made up of the words 'futa' (lid, cover, shell) and 'mu' (body, meat, fruit, nut, berry, seed, substance, contents). The word 'wakare' can be either (to part or to split) or (to leave). Added to the last line (departing autumn) 'wakare' can mean either that it is autumn which is leaving or a person who is departing. In Ogaki, Basho was met by many of his disciples, including Sora who rejoined him, for the end of the trip back to Tokyo. This verse, and the second one in 'Oku no Hosomichi' are considered the 'book-ends' of the work with partings of Spring and Autumn. (Source: Jane Reichhold's Old Pond: Basho's (almost) thousand haiku).
I love to write a haiku with the same words, but with the other meaning. That will be the challenge for this episode of Basho Revisited and of course I have to try. No ... I must try.
taken from the Wedded Rocks
a farewell gift
autumn has gone
the only thing that remains
broken of the Married Rocks
a farewell gift
fallen into the grass
on the seashore
the shell of a hermit crab
Well ... it wasn't easy, but I think I did well. Are these my masterpieces? Or in Basho's Spirit? I don't know. You, my dear readers, may tell me.
This was the last episode with the haibun 'Oku no Hosomichi' as theme. In the next episodes I will look closer at haiku by Basho.
Also published for: one single impression
And as an contribution for Poets United Thursday Think Tank