Sunday, March 18, 2012

Basho Revisited, hidden blossoms

Also published for: Haiku My Heart

As you could have read already Basho was a traveling haiku poet. He made several journeys during his lifetime. Especially in the last ten years of his life.
The following haiku he wrote in summer 1693 they have both the same preface. It could be of course that Basho wrote the first one and re-wrote it later to the second one, but that isn't for sure.

kobi bito no   kokoro ni mo niyo   shii no hana

the traveling heart
should be like
hidden blossoms

shii no hana no   kokoro ni mo niyo   kiso no tabi

hidden flowers
the heart resembles
a trip to Kiso

The preface of these two was:
'As Kyoriku leaves for Hikone by the Kiso Route".
The name of the tree (Shii) is the castanopsis cupsidata which bears inconspicuous flowers. Well ... let me go with the flow and look a bit closer to these haiku. Both are about traveling, both speak about 'hidden flowers'. The line 'hidden flowers' is about the inconspicuous flowers of the Shii, but can easily be seen as a line that points to hidden meanings, or secrets. It even can mean that 'hidden flowers' points to Kyoriku as a friend or his boyfriend. Both haiku can secretly point to his love for man. Basho feels sad as Kyoriku leaves him behind to travel alone to Kiso. But that's ... just a thought, another interpretation of the haiku.

Can I write a new haiku inspired on the haiku by Basho? We will see ....

in a tiny corner
of the mansion's backyard
blooming ice flowers

Credits: Ice flowers

In the same sense and tone maybe another haiku which I wrote several years ago.

a lonely flower
my companion
for one night

'till next time

Basho Revisited, in the daytime a lock

In summer 1693 Basho decided to lock himself up. He would like to think over is his life and closed the gate to his home. You can see this as a retreat. He needed to seek closure for his life as a haiku master.
The following haiku he wrote, when he took this decision.

asagao ya   hiru wa jo orosu   mon mo kaki

morning glories
in the daytime a lock
upon the gate

With this haiku came a preface "Remarks on Closing the Gate', ... if anyone comes, I have to make unnecessary talk. If I go out to visit anyone, I feel bad for disturbing his living. I should be content without any friends. I should feel wealthy in spite of my poverty. A fifty-year-old man writes this for himself as precept for his edification'.
During the months of July and August, Basho closed his gate to visitors. Because the morning glory flower closes up during the day.

Looking to this I had the idea myself to go on a retreat, but that's not my way of living. I love people around me and I, for sure, will not close my gate for visitors. I am the opposite of Basho. I embrace the people around me. I can't live without them. Of course ... I take sometimes a few days for myself, but that's more to come to myself, to get new energy and inspiration.

Chevrefeuille's haiku-blog

a few days
to become myself
and be inspired

the Honeysuckle
in front of my house
guards the gate

A few new haiku inspired on the one by Basho. Are these in his Spirit? I don't know but these haiku wearing my signature that's for sure.

Basho Revisited continues 'till episode 75, so a little more than ten episodes will follow.

See you later ... as I will revisit Basho again.

Basho Revisited, the moon of Seta

I am close to the wiccan and live with the lunar calendar. It is amazing to see that sometimes we have twice a full moon in one month. In the Wiccan tradition we call that Blue Moon this will occur this year in August. In August we have a Blue Moon (on August 31). Blue Moon is for Wiccans worth a celebration and it will be a great celebration.
Basho wrote a haiku on this event of the Blue Moon. It occurred in the Autumn of 1692 as we may belief (according to Jane Reichold) but I did some research on this and came to the conclusion that in Basho's lifetime a Blue Moon had occurred twenty times. According to the year in which the following haiku was written, the Blue Moon, wasn't in Autumn but on April 30th (or in March, as we follow the lunar calendar).
In 1689 a Blue Moon occurred on August 30th and as we know, according to the lunar calendar, this has to be July and that's in the midst of summer. I think Basho was impressed of the Blue Moon and wrote this haiku later. Until now, in my lifetime (1963 - now) a Blue Moon occurred 20 times.
OK back to Basho Revisited.

meigetsu wa   futatsu sugi te mo   seta no tsuki

the full moon
even coming twice in a month
the moon of Seta

A nice one, not so well known, but it shows that Basho was one with nature.
As you have read above I did some research on Blue Moon and while I was doing that I ran into some other names for the moon and in particular the full moon. Names as harvest Moon, Black Moon, Wet - and dry Moon. The last two brought me some insight in the Hawaiian mythology and astrology. So I had to write a haiku on those.

Water Bearer (constellation)

The next haiku is based on the Hawaiian mythology and astrology. The Hawaiians thought that when the moon was in its first quarter in January and February that the moon was a bowl in which the Gods gathered rain water for spring. In that period of the year the Hawaiians can see what they call the Water Bearer (a constellation) the name of the moon in that same period is Kulua.

dripping wet moon
the Water Bearer spills
water from the bowl

Isn't it a nice haiku? It's another one in the Spirit of Chèvrefeuille, but is it in the Spirit of Basho?

'till next time.


Basho Revisited, why have you changed

Basho had a few real friends and a lot of disciples. He wasn't an easy man to deal with, but always righteous.
The following haiku is an example of Basho written as consideration for one of his friends.

aoku te mo   aru beki mono wo   togarashi

though green
why have you changed
red pepper

This verse was the starting link for a 36-link renga Basho wrote with Ranzan and Taisu. It was the result of the visit of Shado, a physician from Omi, who stayed with Basho at his new home from September to the following January. Basho was concerned about his impatient and ambitious personality. Later, his feelings proved valid as it was Shado who caused friction among the disciples due to his lack of consideration for others. This hurt Basho very much. In the end, Shado abandoned Basho and refused to attend his funeral.
Why? Basho was a haiku poet with great love and consideration with nature and humanity. He was into Zen Buddhism and therefor someone who had completely efface Self. To write a new haiku in the same sense as the one by Basho will be tough. I am almost the same as Basho, not a Zen Buddhist, but I am considered with all and everything around me. Maybe this is the result of being a male oncology nurse. My love is unconditional and I see in every human a part of God as God is part of everyone and everything.

heat of summer
the roses in my backyard
have decomposed

A sad day. After the heat wave my roses died unless the daily watering. Is this a haiku in the same way as that by Basho? I think so.

Basho Revisited, cats in love

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)
The next haiku by Basho is an example of how masterly he uses renga techniques for his poems. If you read a complete stop at the line ending with 'stop' and begin a new sentence with 'in' the two lines make perfect sense. However, when you read the second line as a complete unit (as it is written) it sounds as if the cats are in his bedroom. This kind of ambiguity and and 'leading the reader in the false direction' adds depth and meanings to the shortness of haiku.

neko no koi   yamu toki neya no   oboro zuki

cats in love
when they stop in my bedroom
a hazy moon

In the past years I wrote a few haiku about cats in Dutch so I had to translate them for this episode.

full moon
the tomcat washes its head
female cats hunt

over the fence
she creeps, cat in heat,
looking for love

Cats ... in classical times they stood for human affairs on love in a humorous way. Cats were a theme for senryu.

Cat on a fence

Friday, March 2, 2012

Basho Revisited, lost from its nest

Also published for:

Basho often used the technique of giving himself an animal or bird's name to describe his own situation instead of using a personal pronoun or referring to himself as author of the verse. Feeling old, and perhaps somewhat ill, and always traveling from place to place, it is easy to see how Basho may have been describing himself as well as making a comment about a natural phenomenon.

It wasn't common to mention the haiku poet in his own haiku. It was just not done as the poet mentioned himself in his haiku, but as Basho did in the following haiku, he took the 'form' of a plover crying because he has lost his nest. Basho, also somewhere called 'the traveling poet', had no own house or something like that. He didn't need that because he was always on a journey.

yami no yo ya   su wo madowashi   naku chidori

darkness of night
lost from its nest
a plover cries

This is a not so well known haiku by Basho, but it's one of the better ones I think. One can visualize the painting. It's dark. A plover cries because it can not find its nest. Maybe the plover in this haiku was a young one.
Basho was lost and had no home of his own. So he was very sad and feels lost in the darkness of the night. Also a possible reason for the 'color' of this haiku can be that Basho was ill and lays in his bed without help or friends around him. He wrote this haiku in Spring 1692, two years before he died.

Can I write a haiku in the same sense and tone as Basho's one?

the cry of a bird
resonates through the night
has it lost his nest?

Not bad I think. It's in the same sense and tone as the one by master Basho.

See you next time,

Basho Revisited, to the last flowers

The following haiku Basho wrote in Winter 1691. He was in the 'winter of his life' and felt his life ends coming. Three years later he died and left the world his legacy almost thousand haiku.

kogarashi no   nioi ya tsuke shi   kaeri bana

withering wind
the fragrance attached
to the last flowers

What does this haiku with me? It's one of his better ones. The beauty lays in the second and third line. It's there where he paints the moment were haiku is well known for. Just that 'one eye-blink'.
The fragrance, the most light perfume, the memory of the perfume, the fragrance of flowers in full bloom. What a beautiful thought a touch of the most sweet flowers in the withering wind of winter.
Yes ... this is truly a haiku as it is meant to be.

wind of winter
touches the last flowers
Ah! that perfume

For sure a haiku in Chèvrefeuille's Spirit, the light touch of Basho makes it a 'masterpiece'. Awesome!

Basho Revisited, between the cedars

koharashi ni   wa fuki togaru   sugima kana

a withering blast
sharpening the rocks
between the cedars

Basho has written this verse when he visited the Horaiji Temple, with 1423 stone steps, located about 15 km northeast of Shinshiro (where he stayed). Mount Horaiji (684 m) is covered with Japanese cedars with very painted rocks near the top. This verse uses the 'pseudo-science' device. It seems the wind is sharp enough to sharpen the rocks - yet wind does wear down rock, though very slowly.

Nature is very strong and wind and water can sharpen rocks. We have to take care for our wonderful nature, our planet Earth. As a haiku poet nature is part of my life. I love our nature and cherish it. Without flowers, trees, animals and the weather I couldn't write haiku. Without haiku I have 'no life', because I live haiku, I breath haiku.

a jack stone
sharpened by the brook
a masterpiece of art

In this one I think you can feel the power of nature and Basho's Spirit.
Write haiku with pleasure. Live haiku as Basho did. I ... breath haiku ... it's my life

'Till next time.