Saturday, June 14, 2008

Two by Issa

Here's a small beauty, translated by Robert Hass, from Issa, a great way to start a weekend:


A cuckoo sings
to me, to the mountain

__to the mountain.


And, while walking to work this week, I saw the first morning glory in bloom; I've been watching tendril progress for weeks. Here's another Issa take, this time translated by David Lanoue, assisted by Shingi Ogawa:


one inch from its tip




Greg said...

Two good picks! Thanks for sharing them.

- Greg

Poet Hound said...

Thank you for the morning glory mention and the poem, they happen to be my favorite flower in all the world.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

G. & P.:

Thanks much ... there's just something about Issa ...


Greg said...

I agree... I'm reading some R.H. Blyth-translated Japanese haiku, and Issa is quickly becoming one of my favorite poets.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Traditionally, the individual is removed from haiku, which is one reason that Issa is looked on as flawed or too emotional. This, of course, is exactly his appeal: his humanness. In a sense, some of the haiku in which he incorporates this humanness is senryu (haiku that incorporates the human element) as opposed to nature haiku. As this insightful article notes, why separate: are not humans also part of nature:

Here's a Dennis Maloney translation of another Issa poem about morning glories:

Thatched with
morning glory flowers -
my hut

In this one, Issa's poor dilapadated hut is literally held together by morning glory blossoms. In a few deft strokes, it weaves together the sorrow and the joy of human life with the natural order of things.

I just realized that this poem, from "Dusk Lingers" a Lilliput chapbook, is where I came up with the name of the blog. Hmn, maybe this poem deserves some prominence on the website.


Charles Gramlich said...

Issa always has such a nice feel for nature.

Anonymous said...

Dear Don:

Going back a few days . . . Thank you very much for the Yeats audio clip. It is a rare and historic reading, one of the very few extant recordings of Yeats' voice. I think it brings out his rather haunting and spector-like demeanor, which I believe was genuine. A very unusual man. If I had to pick a favorite poet, which I don't, I suspect it might be Yeats. One of my favorite Yeats poems is a youthful composition, "The Song Of The Wandering Aengus", perhaps in part because of its reference to trout, but perhaps more so because of its incredible beauty and youthful exuberance and innocence. Yet another example of "Issa's Untidy Hut" reminding us of things of great import . . .

Best Regards,


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

cg & Greg:

Absolutely, Issa just keeps taking us back to nature. Reading him is like a little meditation - if your mind strays, here's a little something to look at.

Greg, I'm finding so many different translations of him yet the Blyth remains very strong. Send along a couple of your favorites sometime.


Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Thanks for the Yeats note. I was quite taken with his voice, also.

I was struck by your mentioning of the trout, especially since one of my fav images from the "Pied Beauty" Hopkins poem I posted recently is

"For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;"

Sent me scurrying to the Yeats poem. Here it is:

The Song of Wandering Aengus

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

That is a beauty, a lovely piece of Irish folklore, universal, really, in theme.

And, of course, now we have Bradbury kicking around in our heads!