Photo by Derpunk
Much of what is read in the commentary of R. H. Blyth's classic volumes on haiku might be considered as a kind of haibun, so close is he to the original, and so lyrical is his critical prose. Take this example, in which I've placed Issa's poem after the commentary which it originally preceded (to heighten the similarity to haibun) , from volume 3 of Haiku:
Issa is not grumbling at the grumbler. This verse has a prescript, "Man's desires are infinite, but his life is not." To want, to desire, is human, is thus divine, is part of our nature, is part of our Buddha nature. It is how we desire that decides whether we are a Buddha or an a ordinary man. It is not the grumbling, but how we grumble; it is the peevishness, querulousness, petulance that is
This verse, written when Issa was fifty seven, is his considered criticism of human life. What distinguishes man from the lower animals is the very thing that degrades him below them.
This cool breeze
Through the summer room,—
But still complaining
tr. R. H. Blyth
Now, there is much to grumble about Blyth's commentary; I feel I can hear it now, so perhaps it is really coming from me and not some imaginary critic. Is being human thus, therefore, being divine? Yet, to be wrongheaded is not to be wrong. Is not this the very lesson imparted in the action taken, the thoughts penned?
Just read some D.H. Lawrence, whom Blyth greatly admired. Both perfected the art of being right via the act of being wrong.
Something the Bard knew all about, desire that is (tricked up a bit). And then there is that other master.
Or group of masters, but we are somehow beyond desire now, and returning through that wrong-headed back door.
This, this is truly human nature, truly Buddha nature.
Issa wrote some fine poems about breezes, as above. Here are three, translated by David G. Lanoue:
in the spring breeze
already casting shadows...
the cool breeze
saying my apology
to the sacred tree...
a cool breeze
Photo by Seemann
Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.
Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 163 songs