Sunday, May 17, 2015

Chiyo-ni: the plum flower ...

Photo by Appaloosa 

so so sad 
to miss the plum flower
before it fell
trans. by Patricia Donegan & Yoshi Ishibashi

Though I was tempted at first to say, "Here is the modern dilemma," really, here is the human dilemma, shared by no other species. In Patricia Donegan's commentary on this poem, she mentions that this is more than likely a poem of mourning for fellow haiku poet, Shiko, whose pen name means 'plum flower.' Of course, the poem stands also on its own with this second level of meaning.

One of the books in my morning "pile" of poetry is Chiyo-ni: Woman Haiku Master, translated with commentary by Patricia Donegan, with the assistance of Yoshi Ishibashi. It is truly a masterwork. Unfortunately, it is out of print from Tuttle and copies are going for $100 and up. One can only hope that it will again see the light of day as it is a must for any serious haiku collection. 

Donegan's work here, particularly as commentator, as in Haiku Mind, is transcendent. In my limited experience, she is only surpassed by Blyth. 

plum blossoms gone
suddenly Kyoto
looks old

trans. by David G. Lanoue

Photo of Seiryuga haiden


PS  Click to learn how to contribute to Wednesday Haiku


Ed Baker said...

I have a pristine copy of this book
that I can let you have for $80
as , I am finished with it.

mary f.ahearn said...

It is a wonderful book. I'm happy to say that it's on my bookshelf too. I bit the bullet and bought it a couple of years ago - had to have it! It really should be put back in print.
Thanks for acknowledging Chiyo-ni and Patricia Donegan.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Ed ... I'll pass the word. Don

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


So many of the Charles Tuttle titles have gone out of print. The way of all things. I bought his only a few years ago at retail. So it goes.

I think Donegan is an excellent commentator of the Blyth school. More on that in a future post.