Two Crows by Buson
Ran across this quote while reading The Essential Haiku, edited by Robert Hass, in preparation for the November Haiku session I'll be doing
"Use the commonplace to escape the commonplace"
Capturing the spiritual aspect of haiku, haiku as a way, can be tricky when dealing with a Western audience new to haiku. This particular quote may or may not work for my purposes, but it sure does work for this blog. There is at once a Tao/Zen quality to the quote, probing to the core of the Mystery. A beauty.
As promised in a previous post, here are a few more haiku from One Hundred Famous Haiku, selected and translated by Daniel Buchanan. An older book which largely adheres to the 5-7-5 form in English, there were a number of standout haiku well worth sharing.
Bearing no flowers
I am free to toss madly
Like the willow tree.
This is a most uncharacteristic haiku, especially a classic haiku, on a couple of levels. First, the use of a simile, with the word "like" and, second, flowing directly from that, a deep expression of personal emotions. It might be more correctly called a senryu, but in any case its strong appeal is precisely because of its uncharacteristic qualities. One of the great Japanese woman practitioners of the haiku form, this powerful emotional work is remembered long after it is read.
Lovingly the flower-wreath
Placed on the coffin.
The translator Buchanan explains in a note that the word "shitau" in the original, which has been translated as "follow / Lovingly" has also the alternate meaning of "yearn for" or "love dearly." Thus the comparison in this ku is implicit compared to Chiyojo's above; the mourner/mourners, too, are like the butterflies, following longingly.
Today reveals most clearly
My own life cycle.
Again perhaps more senryu than haiku, Moritake speaks to the essence of what the nature element and haiku are all about. To make a distinction between nature and human beings, as though people were not part of nature, is in my estimation a significant error. Looking to nature, Moritake sees himself (and us) in the grand scheme of things.
What might the morning-glory reveal tomorrow?
Sometimes, all it takes is one line; from Lilliput Review, #142, January 2005, a "companion" poem from one of last week's featured poets:
poetry is the dew of silence
Jean Michel Guillaumond
if someone asks
answer: it's a dewdrop
translated by David G. Lanoue
PS There are always 100's of poems to peruse at the Lilliput archive.