Saturday, June 30, 2012

Two Flowers: Ikkyū and Jack Kerouac

                                                  Photo by Kurt Stüber

The lotus flower
Is sustained by mud;
This single dewdrop,
Just as it is,
Manifests the real body of truth.
translated by John Stevens

 Pink & Red Peonies with Butterfly - Hokusai

My butterfly came
     to sit in my flower,
Sir Me
Jack Kerouac

Reading Kerouac and Ikkyū together, as I've been doing, you see immediately their kindred spirits.  Jack here violates every haiku rule and yet the poem could not be any more haiku-like then it already is.   Ikkyū is playing it a little more straight his lovely tankaesque poem. 

These little books that fit in the palm of your hand (.pdf) have been such a delightful way to sustain me as I work through the bigger project I have on my plate (which the closer I get to it, the bigger it is - who'd a thunk?).  Master Issa must have something to say of this?

Dragonfly (detail) by Utamaro

the distant mountain
reflected in his eyes...
translated by David G. Lanoue


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Anonymous said...

That Issa poem is the way(s) to go: omnidimensional. Hearty thanks for such a fine post, Don. Come up for air time time, we need you! ~ Donna

Chen-ou Liu, 劉鎮歐 said...

Here is an excerpt from Jack Kerouac's American Haiku (1959)

"The American Haiku is not exactly the Japanese Haiku. The Japanese Haiku is strictly disciplined
to seventeen syllables but since the language structure is different I don't think American
Haikus (short three-line poems intended to be completely packed with Void of Whole) should worry
about syllables because American speech is something again...bursting to pop.

Above all, a Haiku must be very simple and free of all poetic trickery and make a little picture
and yet be as airy and graceful as a Vivaldi Pastorella."

I enjoyed reading his "pop."

Issa's haiku reminds me of the first verse/Way of "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" by Wallace Stevens

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

I enjoyed the read. Thanks for sharing.


Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Thank you so very much for this. JK had so many prescient things to say (I almost typed 'intuit') about his 'haikus.'

I am working on a big haiku project wherein Jack gets a small mention and I think this quote might just be helpful with that, so it will resonate well beyond this comment.

all the best,

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Thanks ... good advice, too! Three small errors were found (& corrected) by readers of this small post.

I do need air!


Charles Gramlich said...

A world in a drop of water, a universe in a dollop of mud.

snowbird said...

Dear Don, Thanks a million for the e-book... and the link to the press. "The Fisherman"... speaking my mind.... :-)
In gratitude, Merrill

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Merrill, loving the solitary tune.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Here's mud in your eye, Charles!

Theresa Williams said...

I really can see Kerouac and Ikkyu floating on the river of life in the same pea pod. At least for a while. In later life, though, Kerouac became rather bitter and I think he turned more toward Catholicism, which he never fully left. Ikkyu seems to have taken solace in physical love in old age whereas Kerouac closed himself off. It was rather sad.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

"Which he never really left" which seems so true. Yet, it is amazing how completely he immersed himself in Buddhism.

bud blackened early frost

Theresa Williams said...

What an explorer he (Kerouac) was in youth.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...