1. 秋風に ちるや卒都婆の 鉋屑
(Akikaze ni chiru ya
sotoba no kanna kuzu)
Season word: akikaze(秋風), “ the autumn wind” (autumn)
Sotoba(卒塔婆) is a narrow wooden plank with Sanskrit characters or a Buddhist name written on it. It is put up on the grave, behind a tomb
stone, in order to hold a memorial servic and pay respects to a departed person.
Wood shavings are
flying around in the autumn wind. A man is planning a plank smooth. As Mr.Takahashi says, the Poet must have thought it better to express the plank a 'sotoba'. ‘Sotoba’ is straight associated with death itself.
It’s getting colder and the days shorter. People feel somewhat lonely. The scene with such a dreary atmosphere as that of the Haiku in the autumn wind surely leads to a sense of terrible solitude and brings about the sense of uncertainty, as Mr. Takahashi notes. My impression is, what a terrible creation of loneliness we find
out in the Haiku.
2. かなしさや 釣の糸ふく 秋の風
(Kanashisa ya tsuri no ito
fuku aki no kaze)
Season word: aki no kaze(秋の風), “ the autumn wind” (autumn)
*According to academic critics, the Poet
imaged an old man fishing alone on the lake, whose heart was filled with his own sorrows of life. Kito(几董), his disciple, was greatly moved by the Haiku. He said that, when he told the Poet the Haiku is a heart-rending one to him, the Poet deplored very few would understand the suggestiveness of the Haiku and that he seemed to be much displeased. Moreover, Kito added he earnestly dissuaded the Poet from changing the first five ‘'Kanashisa ya (sadness or how sad)' into any other mild expression. From this, we find out that Kito was a haiku poet with great sensitivity and we are reminded of what he showed to his Master on the Haiku 'crucian sushiand Hikone Castle' by the Poet in which very few of his disciples understood the Haiku, N0.8 in summer on this site.
First, I thought I must consider the suggestion by Kito to replace the firstfive words 'kanashisa ya'. Maybe he interpreted the expression not a simple, fleeing feeling of sadness or sorrow but rather deep, that is, the misery
or wretchedness of life a man commonly has. Then he thought 'kanashisa ya' is in apposition to the scene of 'tsuri ito fukuya akino kaze'. The phrases in apposition had such a big impact on him that he decided to suggest the changeof the first five. In a word, the Haiku delivered a one-two punch to Kito.
His view indicates that even if such a direct expression as 'kanashisa ya'
were not used, the theme would surely be understood by readers. This means the pivot is a fishing line in the autumn wind. The substitution of a fishing line for other things does not create poetry. The fishing line, being used by an old fisherman, could stand for the sorrows of life, miseries themselves. As Prof. Ogata hints, the autumn wind sadly knocks at the door of the frailty of human life, which means, how forlorn it is to be human in this uncertain world.
3. 限りある 命のひまや 秋の暮
(Kagiri aru inochi no hima ya aki no kure)
Season word: aki no kure(秋の暮), “the autumn evening” (autumn)
My first impression is that, compared with his many other haikus, the Haiku reads a little abstractive. Luckily the Poet happens to be at leisure in the twilight of autumn. Dearly he hugs the precious while and his sense of life. Why he is suddenly conscious of it at dusk in autumn is the key of the Haiku.
The distinctive characteristics of autumn evening, quite different from those of other seasons, play a very weighty role in affecting
his ways of perception of life. This autumn evening, as if a representative of the works by Nature, invited him to think of his life's evanescence and its great worth.
4. 燈ともせと 云ひつゝ出るや 秋の暮れ
(Hi tomose to iitsutsu deru
ya aki no kure)
Season word: aki no kure(秋の暮), “the autumn evening” (autumn)
The night falls very fast in autumn and soon it gets chilly. Focusing
his spirit before going out into the chilly dusk, the Poet is considerate of the comfort of his family.
As critics says, the Haiku is heart-warming and the season word is plain and the more effective for it.
5. 鳥さしの 西へ過けり 秋のくれ
(Torisashi no nishi e sugi
keri aki no kure)
Season word: aki no kure(秋の暮), “the autumn evening” (autumn)
Torisashi(鳥さし) is a bird-catcher who uses a limed pole to catch a bird.
The Poet saw a
bird catcher pass by westward with killed birds on his shoulder. It's evening in autumn. We have to consider the marked difference between the twilight of spring
and that of autumn. The air at dusk in spring is greatly influenced by
vigorous growing plants, crowded with
pollen and yellow sand from the continent of China, while in autumn leaves of trees and grasses are decaying and release less
and less energy into the atmosphere, preparing for their winter sleeps
and the air has transparency. In the latter, forlorn scenes make stronger
our sense of desolation. The Poet, as an artist, discerns even the slightest color contrasts between two
seasons and, as a haiku poet, keenly perceives subtle differences in the
atmosphere of two seasons.
In the loneliness of an autumn evening, taking life reflects itself clearly against the glowing of the West Land of Purity. As Prof. Ogata points out, ‘going westward of both the killer and killed’ surely deepens the ghastly atmosphere lingering in the darkenig twilight.
6. 飛尽す 鳥ひとつづゝ 秋の暮
(Tobi tsukusu tori hitotsu zutsu aki no kure)
Season word: aki no kure(秋の暮), “the autumn evening” (autumn)
*Tori(鳥)in the Haiku means a crow.
(1) Makura no Soshi(枕の草子) by Seisho-Nagon(966-1025?):
(Aki wa yugure. Yuhi no shashi te yamanoha ito chiko naritaru ni karasu no nedoko e yuku tote, mitsu yotsu,
futatsu mitsu nado tobi isogu sae aware nari.)
|| Autumn is best in the evening. The ridgelines, in the setting sun, look
so near, and crows are, by twos and threes, hurrying to roost. Even these
crows are as touching as if to lead me to a reverie. (Translated by hokuto77)
枯枝に 烏の止りけり 秋の暮
(Kare eda ni karasu no tomari keri aki no kure)
A crow perched
On a withered bough.
|| (Translated byR.H. Blyth)
Crows, unlike black
kites, will fly around in groups, such as by twos and threes. In the picture of the haiku, drawn by Basho himself, we find three crows perched on the withered tree, but R.H. Blyth expressed as single in his translation so that he might stress a solitary
atmosphere of the haiku by Basho. In reality, the
Poet must have seen crows flying away home in groups. Feeling lonesome at the dusk of autumn, I guess he watched the crows not as a whole but one crow after the other, one by one as though he wanted to have them remain in his sight. If not, he wouldn’t have created a situation of crows going to roost one by one, not in a group. In any way, 'one by one' is sure to strengthen
the loneliness of autumnal evening.
7.門を出れば 我も行人 秋のくれ
(Mon wo izure ba ware mo yuku hito akino kure)
Season word: aki no kure(秋の暮),“the autumn evening” (autumn)
Many critics, including, Mr. Takahashi, make their clear-sighted remarks on the Haiku, which are shared by them all. They all agree that the Poet produced the Haiku based on the following famous haiku by Basho. It is considered as the fruit from a strong yearning for the world of Basho and his lifestyle.
此道や 行く人なしに 秋の暮
(kono michi ya yuku hito nashi ni aki no kure)
||Along this road
Goes no one,
||(Translated by R.H. Blyth)
Prof. Ogata says that the Haiku is a greeting to Basho from Buson, which means that Buson, as a poet who goes on his own solitary way of literature like Basho, fully appreciated Basho’s poetic sentiments as a wandering Poet. It may be said that without the haiku by Basho as a precedent, the Haiku would not have been created by the Poet.
are the Poet’s letters to his disciples concerning the Haiku. They go:
(1) To Ryokaku(了角) and Otsufusa(乙総) (of Sept. 2, 1774)
門を出れば 我も行人 秋のくれ
These days I’ve had no haiku
(2) To Tairo(大魯) (of Sept. 2,
門を出れば 我も行人 秋のくれ
days I’ve been busy with worldly affairs and I’ve got no haiku. It is not refined or elegant,
but I wrote it down.
*Notes: worldly affairs =being busy as a painter
(3) To Ryujyo(柳女) and Gazui(賀瑞) (of
Sept. 10, 1774)
been living in a hazy mood without hitting on haiku. Finally I’ve managed to write down some few,
but none of them are refined or elegant.
門を出れば 我も行人 秋のくれ
又 (, and)
門を出て 故人に逢ぬ 秋のくれ
wo idete kojin ni ainu akino kure)
Outside the gate,
I met *an old friend of
In the autumn
evening. (Translated by hokuto77)
Which do you think is
(All the critics say *an old friend of
mine refers to Basho.)
If the Haiku is such a simple product as is of only the yearning for Basho, it doesn’t appeal to my emotion from an ordinary reader’s perspective. In
short it doesn't impress me at all. We have to consider the creative process of the Haiku.
the beginning, there is an autumnal evening. As for a view of life, the autumn evening is conspicuously impressive to that of every sensitive person,
whether common people or poets, compared with the other three seasonal evenings.
This evening arouses something pathetic, sorrows of life in many people.
The Poet perceives that, once outside into the autumn evening he too feels even more lonely, surrounded by cold twilight just like other people. Looking deep into himself,
he feels he is nothing but a lonesome traveler of the poetic world. Then, though it seems as if all of a sudden, he remembered that autumn evening when Basho had composed the above-mentioned famous haiku of the autumn evening. The
lonely autumn evening, which both of them had in common, though quite at a different time, began to
call to the Poet's mind his long-cherished strong yearning for Basho.
I think the Haiku is, in a sense, subjective, short of universality. Probably that’s why he wrote to his disciples that the Haiku was neither refined nor elegant.
8.秋の燈や ゆかしき奈良の 道具市
(Akino hi ya yukashi ki nara no dogu ichi)
Season word: akinohi(秋の燈), “autumn lamp” (autumn)
The autumn sun has set. Lamps are burning at the articles market by the way side in Nara. Prof. Ogata comments Nara is an ancient city and that articles will surely be interesting. The Poet was seized with curiosity and attracted toward the light in the night articles fair. The soft light led him feel somewhat calm and relaxed. Human affairs like interesting articles fairs have overshadowed the loneliness of autumnal evening.
9. 村々の 寝ごゝろ更ぬ 落し水
(Muramura no negokoro fuke nu otoshi mizu)
Season word: otoshi mizu(落し水), “water drained off from a paddy field”(autumn)
Before rice harvesting, they drain paddy
fields. To drain water shows that their rice is just going to be gathered in.
As the night wears on, people fall sound asleep, while the water let out from paddy fields is running through the silent depth of night. The Poet hopes and believes the dream of heavy rice crop they are dreaming will surely come true. The Haiku is based on his heart-warming love for common people.
10. 阿武隈や 五十四郡の おとし水
(Abukuma ya gojyushi gun
no otoshi mizu)
Season word: otoshi mizu(落し水), “water drained off from a paddy field”(autumn)
It was generally said from the Kamakura period (1192-1333) that there were fifty-four counties in the Oshu ditricts, northern parts of Japan.
|| The Abukuma River (阿武隈川, Abukuma gawa or Abukumagawa), with a length of 234 km, is the second
longest river in the Tōhoku region of Japan and the 6th longest river in
Japan. It rises from springs in the peaks of the Nasu Mountains, collects water from tributaries leaving the Ōu Mountains and the Abukuma Highlands (阿武隈高地), and empties into the Pacific Ocean as a major river. It has a 5,390
km² area watershed, and about 1.2 million people live along its basin.
The Abukuma River flows north through Nagadōri (中通り) or "Central Street" valley, past the cities of Shirakawa, Sukagawa, Kōriyama, Nihonmatsu and Fukushima before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. The portion of the river flowing between Nihonmatsu and Fukushima forms
a deep ravine called Horaikyo. Crossing the north edge of the long but low Abukuma hills, the Abukuma
River flows into Miyagi Prefecture, past the city of Kakuda and between Iwanuma and Watari before reaching the Pacific. Abukumahas a tributary called the Ara
(Quoted from Wikipedia)
The Poet gazes at the slow, gentle flow of the River Abukuma, thinking that, into the river does run all the drained water from paddy fields in as many
as fifty-four counties in the northern parts of Japan. He images how grand the view and what a great circulation! Naturally he thinks about numerous people living their lives and working along the river. I can’t help but be associated with the haiku ‘Mogami gawa’ (the River Mogami) by Basho.
The rains of May,
The swift Mogami River
| (Translated by R.H. Blyth)
I see in its single
The abyss of deep blue
11.朝がほや 一輪深き 淵の色
(Asagao ya ichirin fukaki fuchi no iro)
||Next haiku ⇒
Season word: asagao(朝がほ), “a morning glory” (autumn)
The Haiku has a preparatory note quoted from “the Heki Gan Roku (碧巌録)”. It goes:
澗水湛如藍 (kansui wo tataete ai no gotoshi)
[Filled with valley water, it looks like indigo blue.] (Translated by hokuto77)
*Notes by hokuto77:
‘The Heki Gan Roku’ is one of Chinese Buddhist scriptures, compiled in 1125.
The Haiku is so excellent that it’s very tough for me to translate and
comment it. Prof. Ogata says the deep blue of a morning glory seems to
allure us to the abyss of the universe. The color stands for the sign that Nature has begun to change into autumn,
including colors themselves. Mr. Takahashi says the Haiku has been accepted widely with favor. As he suggests, I also fear it is uncertain
whether the depth of what the color represents has been accepted properly among Japanese
The key question is
probably what the Poet saw or imagined in the
deep blue of a morning glory. I don’t think it quoted phrase 澗水湛如藍 only. There must have been something, in the deep blue, that struck a chord of the Poet’s heart.
If the indigo blue of a single of morning glory is the color of the abyss, I will crazily hypothesize that the Poet happened to see that Chaos which John
Milton sang about in his Paradise Lost written in 1667, about a century prior to the Haiku. From the definition of OED about ‘abyss’ (abyss is the great deep, the primal chaos.), it will follow that Abyss means Chaos. And OED defines that ‘chaos’ is the great deep or abyss out of which the cosmos or order of the universe was evolved. Here I quote
the two passages from Paradise Lost. They go:
||(1) Book I 9-10;
Beginning how the heav’ns and earth
Rose out of Chaos:
To Paradise Lost Text Book I ➭
*notes by hokuto77:
hoary (of color)=grey, grayish white(OED)
illimitable=without a limit; very large or extensive
*their i.e. Satan and his daughter Sin
*appear The secrets--- V+S
*Ocean --- where length ~ are lost
*Night and Chaos --- hold --- and stand by
|(2) Book II 890-97
Before their eyes in
sudden view appear
The secrets of the hoary Deep ━ a dark
Illimitable ocean without bound,
Without dimension; where length, breadth, and highth,
And time, and place are lost; where eldest Night
And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold
Eternal anarchy, amidst the noise
Of endless wars, and by confusion stand.
*notes by hokuto77:
secrets:John Leonard comments that the word has a hint of
'secret parts' , sexual organs in it and that Chaos is a
The above-mentioned crazy hypothetical illusion arouses me a magnificent
sense of pleasure and sense of energy that
Buson saw, in the dark blue of morning glory, such Abyss or Chaos as the starting point of Universe and Nature, as John Milton had created. Milton described where Night and Chaos hold Eternal anarchy is ‘the hoary Deep’. The color ‘hoary’ may be due to his weakening eyesight. While Buson was an excellent painter, who has a keen and clear color vision.
12. 朝霧や 村千軒の 市の音
(Asagiri ya mura sengen
no ichi no oto)
Season word: asagiri(朝霧), “morning mist" (autumn)
'Mura sengen' (村千軒) stands for a village which is as prosperous as
though the number of the houses there is a thousand. In the Haiku, as with the English '‘a thousand', or ‘sen’ (千) means 'a large number', not a numerical one.
Morning mists embosomed
the village, which is probably very prosperous, as if as many as a thousand houses were located. The reason for the guess
is, through the morning mists are heard the hustle and bustle of the market
place. The noises attract the
Poet’s interest to lives of the villagers and as Mr. Takahashi says, his poetic imagination is sharply aroused by the morning mists which stop him from seeing clearly what is really going on in a big village. The season word, morning mists (asagiri) and noisy sounds played a leading role in the creation of the Haiku.
13. 稲づまや 浪もてゆへる 秋津しま
(Inazuma ya nami mote
Season word: inazuma(稲づま), " (a flash of) lightning"(autumn)
* 'Akizushima'(秋津島) was another
name for Japan in earlier times. The name stood for a country where rice becomes well ripe.
* ‘Namimote yueru’(浪もてゆへる) is to surround a thing, like a ship or an island etc, with waves just like making a fence around it with waves.
In former times, Japanese people, high and low, had a kind of faith that
flashes of lightning in autumn make the ears of rice rich in grains.
Under a flash of lightning, the Poet pictured the whole Japan in his mind, which is surrounded with waves. What a tremendous size of scenery is the view! How awesome is the lightning and how surging are waves! Uneasiness and suspense prevails but the whole scenery, Akizushima, fixed, has firmness. He gets a sense of his real existence in his imagery. Mr. Takahashi makes quite a different comment on the Haiku. He says that in the Haiku everything is moving or changing its aspect, even the darkness enveloping
the whole scene ready to change, and this represents the characteristics
of the Poet very clearly.
14. 稲妻に こぼるゝ音や 竹の露
(Inazuma ni koboruru oto
ya take no
Season word: inazuma(稲妻), “ (a flash of) lightning”(autumn)
Usually thunder comes after lightning. Lightning passes away in a flash,
and sometimes in succession. The interval between the thunder and the lightning may be just a few seconds.
To catch the sound of dew dropping in such a short moment one needs to
be highly sensitive to a small sound. And also it takes a keen intelligence to imagine how dews are dropped off from bamboo
grove by a flash of lightning. Physically it’s improbable that the dew falls off by lightning only, except by
windsor earthquakes etc.
What is most valuable here is the Poet’s keen perception
of lightning which induces him to imagine dews will drop off by lightning. The Haiku contains in it the two season words that stand for autumn; lightning and dew. Just one season word in a haiku has been fixed as a desirable style.
But strangely, the two season words in the Haiku do not cause me any sense of discomfort or of decentralization. Mr. Takahashi says the Haiku is not based on the fact but it is accepted thanks to bamboos. Surely, the leaves and trunks of bamboos look very slippery.
15. 送り火や 今宵定むる 嫁もある
（Okuribi ya koyoi
sadamuru yome mo aru)
Season word: okuribi(送り火) (autumn)
Okuribi(送り火) is ceremonial fires lit on the evening of the last day of Bon Festival to
speed the spirits of the dead on their way. (Quoted from Kenkyusha's New
How religious they were! They practiced patience till the last day of the
first Bon Festival of a deceased person, during which time they decided they be in
mourning. And to leave off mourning was to arrange a match and have a new couple. It was a great matter for congratulation.
The Poet must have felt it deeply pleasurable that on the very same evening thedeceased
departs for a better world and a new life is expected here on earth. Perhaps
he realized it was more than just coincidence. Every additional time I read
the Haiku, its depth increases.
||16. 落穂拾ひ 日あたるかたへ 歩みゆく
(Ochibo hiroi hiataru kata e ayumi yuku)
Season word: ochibo hiroi(落穂拾ひ), “gleaning” (autumn)
Old women and little girls used to glean after the reapers, who were usually made up of men, boys and sturdy women.
The sun has begun to set behind the mountains. Gleaners of a village are
cold and tired in the harvested rice paddy field. They are walking to the spot
where the sun is still shining, though getting fainter. The scenery has caught
the Poet's warm and delicate attention. I am reminded of "the Gleaners" by Jean Francois Millet (1814~1875) who painted lives of simple farmers. The three Gleaners of Millet’s, women as they are, do not look weak or old but rather stout. There are differences of
health and age of persons between the Haiku and the Painting, which naturally comes from cultural disparities, but the warm feelings toward the farmers must be the same degree.
17.兎角して 踊となしぬ 若 ｲ 者
(Tokaku shite orodi to
Season word: odori(踊), “Japanese folk dance” (autumn)
The Japanese, like other nations, have been a dance-loving people since early times. Even today, in autumn, people in various districts are seen to enjoy Bon Festival dances or harvest dances, which are peculiar to their own native folk songs of the district where they live. In lots of places they have had
a contest of folk song dances.
After a lapse of some time, while they’ve been talking or thinking of
this and that, finally the young people have concluded that dancing is the most fitting for the occasion. Men and women of all ages like dancing in Japan. The Poet is deeply impressed by the harmonious, or unanimous decision of young people and the outcome is a vivid description of psychological function seen among daily lives of common
people and, moreover, it shows the warm human relationship among them.
Another interpretation of No.17:
Prof. Shinichi Fujita of Kansai University interprets the Haiku from his personal viewpoint based on his own deep and professional learning about the Poet .It goes:
In a certain period of time,
Young bloods got to
do a folk dance
Orderly and properly.
|Next haiku ➩
On the Haiku No.17 , Prof. Fujita of Kansai University advocates that the young people did not discuss even for a while what to do or play. They began
to dance, as they had scheduled, to a folk song by trial and error. In a while they managed
to dance all like neatly and regularly. The Poet watched in wonder how their dancing would develop and admired the energy and strength of
It seems to me this proposal of Prof. Fujita is characteristically deep and to the point. His interpretation is perhaps far more true to what the Poet to intend in the Haiku than the generally accepted one. The former is
three-dimensional and full of life, visualized according to a reader’s
taste, while the latter is flat and prosaic.
18. 四五人に 月落かゝる おどり哉
(Shigonin ni tsuki
ochikakaru odori kana)
Season word: odori (おどり), “Japanese folk dance” (autumn)
The Haiku runs, with his other haiku, on three different pages in the Poet's ‘Haiku Collection’, with three respective preparatory notes. The notes
① I remember the late Ichiku (移竹).
古人移竹を思う [kojin ichiku wo omou]
② Asked to praise Hanabusa Iccho's paintings.
英一蝶が画に賛望れて [Hanabusa Iccho ga ga ni san nozo marete]
③ Tadanori's grave. 忠規/(度)墓 [Tadanori
I think the Haiku is
one of the masterpieces by the Poet. It's far into the night and the moon is sinking. Many other people have left off dancing and are
gone home. Some few, four or five, are still absorbed in a Bon festival dance,
unaware of the passage of time. It's uncertain whether the Poet has tried to join the dance but probably he has intently watched both the setting moon and the few dancing persons. It's clear that he values so highly Bon dances and dancers. By reading the Haiku, though the two season words are quite different,
I am always reminded of a haiku by Basho. It goes:
名月や 池をめぐりて 夜もすがら
(Meigetsu ya ike wo meguri te yomo sugara)
The autumn moon;
I wandered round the pond
All night long.
(Translated by R. H. Blyth
It seems to me, hokuto77, what is common in the two haiku indicates the root of man's emotional
19. 古傘に 工夫の付ぬ かヾし哉
(Furugasa ni kufu no tsuka nu kagashi kana)
Season word: kagashi(かヾし), “a scarecrow” (autuman)
The Haiku can be interpreted in two ways. One is very humorous. Certainly they tried hard to make an effective scarecrow of a little used broken
umbrella, but in vain. You may have seen an old worn out umbrella standing
alone without anything on it for decoration in a paddy field. The other
is an old style of human daily lives: trying to use out anything, worn out or broken, usefully with ingenious
devices, but it's rather tough to carry it out.
Ours has been an era when people discard things that are still useable,
even when they are only a little worn out. It's only of late in Japan that
a recycling-oriented societies advocated by the joint efforts of the government
and people. But it's sadly accelerated with the development of global warming. As far back as into the Edo period(1603-1868), people did not think so much as of throwing away what was
still in use, if there could be found any possibility at all to keep it
useful, even if out of its proper purpose.
20. 折レつくす 秋に彳む かヾしかな
(Ore tsukusu aki ni tatazumu kagashi kana)
Season word: kagashi(かヾし), “a scarecrow” (autumn)
In a desolate autumn field, trees leafless and all grasses bent down, you
see scarecrows outstanding upright, partly broken or worn out, weather
beaten. They fulfilled their duty, yet standing wholeheartedly, as though trying
to be guardsmen of the fields. Mr. Takahashi says that it's the image of human beings themselves in its stubbornness. His remark that the scarecrow in the Haiku is the substitute of man is much to the point. Prof. Ogata says that the scenery of the Haiku is a very desolate
autumnal one. As you see, the Haiku has two season words; autumn and scarecrows. How does it appeal to readers: the effect emphasized or weakened?
The Haiku is full of artistic effect. Scarecrows standing alone in the fields are the image of man’s having assiduously worked, finally to be enveloped in
the transition of nature. Both are described in a pictorial way and the two season words are naturally introduced as an inevitable consequence of the Poet's creative process.
21. 村百戸 菊なき門も 見えぬ哉
(Mura hyakko kiku naki
kado mo mienu kana)
Season word: kiku(菊), “ a chrysanthemum” (autumn)
There is no family in the village that does not cultivate chrysanthemums.
A village, where about hundred families live, is no small one. It's a wonder
that every house, without exception, *cultures chrysanthemums. The Poet may have marveled at the popularity of growing chrysanthemums. I guess the Poet roughly viewed around houses inthe village, not one by one. Naturally it’s
of no interest or use to suppose he must have walked in every nook and cranny. He seems to be more attracted by ways of living of villagers than chrysanthemums in full bloom. Mr. Takahashi says he supposes that the Poet did not value cultivated chrysanthemums and he tells us that the time when the Poet lived is the period when chrysanthemums *culture in Japan was the most flourishing time in its history.
*culture=lit. (the soil, plants.) Now chiefly poetic. Now rare. (OED)
22. 白菊や 花一輪と いふべかり
(Shira giku ya hana ichirin
to yu bekari)
Season word: kiku(菊), “ a chrysanthemum” (autumn)
How neat and clean a single white chrysanthemum! Neither too big nor too small, on each stalk. There the Poet must have seen in the white chrysanthemum the way a man ought to exist in this world. In the Edo period (1603-1868), people used to think it best to follow the golden mean, that is, a course of action that is not extreme. Judging from the Haiku, probably he was not much attracted to man-made magnificent flowers. It may well be said that
it is because he valued Nature herself.
23. 此ふた日 きぬた聞へぬ 隣かな
(Kono futa hi kinuta
kikoe nu tonari
“the sound of beating cloth”
*Until early in the Meiji period(1868-1912) Japanese housewives used to beat cloth at night into good clothes to wear. With it, she was able to receive a labor charge, if she would, though it was very small. Even today, such work at night is called ‘yonabe’(夜なべ),
regardless of earning wages or not.
is a fulling block on which cloth is beaten by a mallet, to get soft and smooth.
) as a season word stands for the fulling block itself or ‘the sound’ of
fulling cloth on the block.
*full(v)=to make clothes full(COD) [full=made of much material arranged infolds or
The Haiku sounds commonplace, but such haiku
as this wouldn’t be produced without deep human love and warm human relationship among those who live
in the neighborhood. It's the very thing that modern people lack, absorbed
in excessive individualism, respect of one’s right to privacy and urbanization. The Haiku reminds me of another famous haiku, similar
to this in the apparent meaning, by Basho: It runs:
(Aki fukaki tonari wa nani wo suru hito
R.H. Blyth says Buson’s Haiku is not as profound as that of Basho, but pleasantly objective. I see it a little differently. Basho, in
solitude, thinks of his own life in this world, and supposedly comparing with what he
is, wonders what his neighbor is about, of whom he knows nothing. But through this process Basho stops deepening his solitude. While the Poet is anxious about his neighbor, wondering how
she or he has been living these days or
what has happened to them.
How does he live?
| (Translated by R.H. Blyth)
What is certain is that Both the Poets have a desire for solidarity.
One of the reasons is probably that both are very warm-hearted and the virtues shared by the two poets are based on making relationships without personal prejudices, and being
kind and considerate to others.
The time when they lived is a distant past. Today, individualism has so developed that people take little interest in what their neighbors are about, or how they are getting along. They are reluctant to help each other. They are apt to regard advises from others as unnecessary interference.Privacy is seen striding everywhere.
The Personal Data Protection Law, I'm very much afraid, may well deprive us of warm human relationship even among adjoining neighbors, and finally in the whole society.
24. 初秋や 余所の灯見ゆる 宵のほど
(Hatsu aki ya yoso no hi
miyuru yoi no hodo)
Season word: hatsuaki(初秋), “ early autumn” (autumn)
At the hour when he usually closes the shutters, the Poet is surprised to see the lamps of houses burning. He suddenly realizes the day has gotten quite short. He is concerned with both the change of Nature and daily lives of common people. As Mr. Takahashi says, the Haiku may be a commonplace, but how about reading a little further? Lit houses at an early autumn dusk give the Poet comfortable warmth in his mind as well as in his body. The recognition that people are living there leads him to an escape from a sense of solitude and now he does not feel solitary, but he is warmly conscious of membership of the community. He has gotten a strong sense of solidarity.
(The following short essay is
continued from Tragedy or Hope Ⅰ in Summer.)
Dear visitors, please excuse me for showing you my trite, one-sided opinion. It goes:
The multitudes feel they are now at a turning-point of the history of the globe and mankind. In the 21st century, it's only in freedom that hopes arise and flourish and people willingly try to realize them.
Freedom lies in nothing but democracy in its true sense of the word. From this unclear argument of mine, I jump
to a hasty conclusion: Before everything else, democracy is the key to the cherishing of hopes and realizing them. Moreover, the Constitution, if established in a truly
democratic way, to maintain democratic systems in every field of its country, should be protected with all their
power against every possible evil threat to change it for the worse. Constant and cooperative efforts must be made, so its invariable principles
can always be strictly applied to the welfare of people and sound economic developments of society.
I think, concerning the new movement, a wider objective perspective on law and politics will surely help us keep a careful check on democracy in Japan, though the science is very practical, based on wide-ranging questionnaires, fieldwork or the like. I think some spirits of "the Edicts of Seclusion" or "the policy to prevent access or influence from without, abroad" in the Edo Period (1603-1868) are yet lingering in government policies and in social, economic,
and political fields, it gets in the way of true democracy.
The general view on democracy is so self-evident and abstract that it's likely to be overlooked. It
should always be kept in mind when people debate hope and its realization. It may be the case with the US Government and its citizens. Before trying to persuade other peoples to
get the same democracy as theirs, they should reflect on themselves and try earnestly to change their own for the better.
My hazy fancy tells me that, if democracy should extend to every nook and cranny of the globe, without any region left alone, Hope remaining in Pandora’s box would spontaneously come out of her concealment. Hope would pay a threatening visit to still lingering negative factors affecting hopes entertained by common people, such as fear of nukes, global depression, long-scale unemployment, climate change, terrorist groups, rapid globalization, the families of casualties in a conflict or disaster, cancer patients, temps fearful of unfair dismissal, local governments suffering from a budget deficit, and more harmful new factors etc. The evil factors would be so numerous that
She would have been tired out on the way and ask Kibogaku for help. Eventually the ills of mankind might return to the box to be confined there.
Suddenly mist has disappeared from my head. Dear readers, please allow me to return to a serious problem of mine. Regardless of Kibogaku, 'Hope Studies', my colon cancer is very obstinate and its next generation cells are found latent where
the first lived and their cancerous growth seems to be around the corner. I know enough it’s all up to me whether
to live with that hidden Hope in the Box or surrender myself to the harsh, tragic realty.
Heartfelt thanks for your kind reading. *To Tragedy or Hope I➧
||Twilled silk, not yet cut out ━
I sought it out;
The first morn of autumn.
25. たゝで有し 綾もとめ出つ けさの秋
(Tatade ari shi aya
motome idetsu kesa no aki)
word: kesa no aki(けさの秋), “the morning of the
first day of autumn”
(On the lunar calendar) (autumn)
*Aya(綾) is 'twilled silk'. Twilled silk is unfit to wear in summer. It’s very
expensive for common people to get.
*‘Kesa no aki’ (けさの秋) is the morning of the
first day of autumn and it is the beginning of autumn on the lunar calendar.
The Haiku tells us that in former times, people lived just according to
seasonal changes. They were keenly aware of gradual transition between
seasons and enjoyed the subtlety
of the transitional period.
The Poet is suddenly reminded of the silk. It has been tucked away somewhere in
the drawers safely. But it has yet to be cut out. The reason is not clear,
so we have to guess one reason or another in the atmosphere of the Haiku.
He got the twilled silk sought out hurriedly. The sight of the silk has made
him recover peace
of mind. The certainty helped relieve growing anxiety of leading a suitable life
for autumn. Probably at the same time, he remembers
the way he has spent the summer just ended, bitterly or sweetly.
||Passage birds coming,
How pleasant their sounds!
On board eaves.
小鳥来る 音うれしさよ 板庇
(Kotori kuru oto ureshi sa yo itabisashi)
word: kotori kuru(小鳥来る), “ passage birds coming” (autumn)
birds from north bring autumn to Japan with them. The Poet is much delighted to know passage birds have, as usual, visited him with the longing gift of autumn by the sounds they are making on the board
He is thankful to the eaves made of board for being resonant with their walking or singing on it. He has a deep affection for passage birds, on which you've already read by the haiku NO.21 in spring.
It is through the boards resonant with their walking or singing on it
that the sounds have reached to his ears. The fact also may have pleased him
||Don’t let light through windows
Male deer belling!
27. 窓の灯を 山へな見せそ 鹿の声
(Mado no hi wo yama e na mise so shika no koe)
Season word: shikano koe(鹿の声), “the bell of a male deer” (autumn)
* 'Na---so(な---そ)' means ' to beg not to do---.
The bells which a male deer is giving
has so moved
the Poet that he entreats his family to prevent the light in the house from escaping outside, so the
light may not disturb his burning love for a female deer. Deer have been made into poems, novels
and the dramas from the earliest times in Japan.
A few good reasons are thought of: One may be their plaintive bells calling for their loves, and a second their meekness of character toward
men, and a third their dainty venison, though in general eating meat, or killing
deer was prohibited in the Edo period (1603-1868). People highly valued deer: a female is pretty and a male
is brave.Here I quote a famous tanka poem composed on deer from "Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry".
奥山に 紅葉ふみわけ 鳴鹿の こゑきく時ぞ 秋はかなしき (よみ人しらずー古今和歌集)
(Oku yama ni momiji fumi wake naku shika no koe kiku toki zo aki wa kana shiki)
Note:okuyama(奥山)=a remote country or miles from anywhere
(In the Tanka it does not mean 'deep in the mountain'.)
kana shiki(かなしき)=sad or melancholic
In a remote country
Making my way through autumn leaves of dead grass,
I hear a deer bell ━
How sad I feel the autumn!
(Translated by hokuto77)
Once overseas, I find there are many different views of deer. They appear
in literature in many kinds of forms; one time as deer, and another as
hart and another as rascal and another as doe or hind or as hind-calf or
doe. The literary works in which they appear are too numerous to mention.
It is said that only in Shakespeare deer are taken into as many as ninety
passages of his works.
I quote from Homer, Milton and Shakespeare. As for Homer's 'Odyssey' I have two translations. I quote here both of
(1) From the Book Fourth of The Odyssey, translated by Richmond Lattimore. It goes:
As when a doe
has brought her fawns to the lair of a lion and put them there to sleep,
they are new born and still suckling, then wanders out into the
foot-hills and the grassy
corner, grazing there, but now the lion comes back to his own lair and visits, a shameful
destruction on both mother and children; so Odysseus will visit shameful destruction
on these men.
Notes by hokuto77 (for Japanese high school students):
doe =the female of the fallow deer(OED)
fawn=a young fallow deer, a buck or doe of the first year(OED)
lair=a place where a wild animal sleeps or hides
fvisit=inflict(=make somebody suffer something unpleasant)
these men = the suitors of Penelope, the wife of Odysseus
(2) From the Book Fourth of The Odyssey, translated by George Chapman. It
As when a Hinde (her calves late farrowed
To give sucke) enters the bold
He rootes of hills and herbie
For food (there feeding)
hunting, but at length,
Returning to his Caverne, gives
The lives of both the mother
and the brood
In deaths indecent; so the
Must pay Ulysses' powers as sharpe an end.
Notes by hokuto77:
the Latin name of Odysseus Hinde<hind=the female of the deer, esp.
of the red deer: specifically, a female deer in and after its third year(OED)
hind-calf=the young of a hind; fawn(OED) roote<root=search
herbie<herby=full of herbs, grassy Caverne<cavy=formed of a cave
I quote from Book IV ℓ. 403~406 of 'Paradise Lost' of John Milton.
Then as a tiger, who by
chance hath spied
In some purlieu two gentle fawns at play,
Straight crouches close;
Notes by hokuto77 (for Japanese high school students):
two gentle fawns i.e. Adam and Eve
purlieu[ˈpɜːl(j)uː] =a tract on the border of a forest
came down to Paradise in order to spy how Adam and Eve are living. He came
close to them in various figures of kind. As easily seen, as for Satan’s action, Milton
skillfully uses a simileof a Lion which is going to spy his prey. And Adam and Eve,
innocent, are compared to mild fawns. By this metaphor, the differences of the two
are pointed up sharply.
The last ones are from Shakespeare.
(1) From Julius Caesar ActⅢ.
|| Begin quote:
Had I as many eyes as thou hast wounds,
Weeping as fast as they stream forth thy blood,
It would become me better than to close
In terms of friendship with thine enemies.
Pardon me, Julius. Here wast thou bayed, brave
Here did thou fall, and here thy hunters stand,
Signed in thy spoil and crimsoned in thy lethe.
O world! Thou wast the forest to this hart;
And this indeed, O world, the heart of thee.
How like a
deer, stroken by many princes,
Dost thou here lie.
Cassius Mark Antony.
Antony Pardon me, Caius Cassius. “---“
Notes by hokuto77:
hart=the male of the deer, esp. of the red deer specifically, a male
deer after its fifth year(OED) * The pun of ’heart, hart’ may well
be paid attention to. close=agree, come to terms
bay(v)=drive -- to bay, bring -- to bay bay[hunting]=point of
capture sign=mark distinctly spoil=slaughter, destruction
crimson(v)=turn deep red lethe=death
stroken<strike=[hunting, of a prey]thrust, stab, pierce
prince=one who is first or pre-eminent in a specified class or
sphere(OED) i.e. hunter (here)
Caius Cassius=one of the patricians opposed to Julius Caesar
*Julius is compared to a brave hart, as well as to a gentle deer.
Shakespeare uses the simile very skillfully.
(2) From ‘As you like it Act II. scene I 25~43
Indeed, my lord,
The melancholy *Jaques grieves at that;
To the which place a poor sequester'd stag,
That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt,
Did come to languish; and, indeed, my lord,
The wretched animal heav'd forth such groans,
That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat
Almost to bursting; and the
big round tears
Cours'd one another down his innocent nose
In piteous chase: and thus the hairy fool,
Much marked of the melancholy Jaques,
Stood on the extremest verge of the swift brook,
Augmenting it with tears.
Notes by hokuto77
an environment which allows them to be themselves. For example, they are highly amused when Jaques *empathizes with the deer wounded by one of them, moaning and weeping for the pain of the deer, the killing of which is seen by Duke Senior and his followers
(The above is quoted by hokuto77 from “a free excerpt of Character Analysis in Literature Study Guidance at eNotes.)
*empathize=understand another person’s feelings and
experiences, especially because you have been in a similar
Notes by hokuto77 (for Japanese high school students):
sequestered=separated stag=the male of a deer, esp. of the
red deer; specifically a hart or male deer of the fifth year
languish=grow weak, lose health the wretched animal= the wounded
stag heave=utter (a groan, sigh, or sob) with effort, or with
a deep breath which causes the chest to heave(OED cites here)
groan=a deep sound expressing pain, grief, or disapproval
discharge=the act of sending out or pouring forth; emission(OED cites
here) leathern=made of leather; used with reference to the
skin of the living animal(OED cites here)
*the big round tears: Poets used to imagine stags would shed tears,
which are, in fact, oily secreting fluid, not their tears.
innoent=doing no harm; harmless course(v)=chase, purse, run
after(OED cites here) piteous=exciting pity, moving to
hairy fool i.e. the poor wounded,
marked of=marked by *We find the same usage ‘of’ in the line 50.
It goes: then, being there alone, Left and abandoned of his
velvet friends; *of=by
mark =observe, notice verge=the margin of a river or the sea
brook=a small stream [orig. a strong flowing stream]
augment=increase, enlarge *it= the swift brook
*Jaques=one of the characters of ‘As you like it’: a discontented,
[A lord attending the banished Duke Senior, Jaques seems less enthusiastic
about the natural simplicity of Arden as the other characters there, but
he does not entirely dampen their enthusiasm. Rather, Duke Senior and his
followers are amused by his pessimism about an environment which they celebrate
as basic and unflattering,
Each on every sting
28. 白露や 茨の刺に ひとつづゝ
(Shira tsuyu ya ibara no hari
ni hitotsu zutsu)
Season word: shiratsuyu(白露), “dew, dewdrop” (autumn)
The first reading of the Haiku gives us a vivid impression that it's a
narrow, objective sketch of morning dews as though painted on a canvas
or shot in close-up. His careful observation of dewdrops and thorn stings
brought the Poet a miraculous wonder. Or his wonder in the dewdrops attracted him
closely to them and from it a marvelous depth has enued in its meaning.
On seeing a dewdrop on every sting of thorns, he was greatly impressed by the power and impartiality of Nature. The morning dews that the
Poet watched are not fleeting in the least but rather stable. Inevitably they
have poetic suggestiveness and won’t disappear from his memory and ours as well. In short, the Haiku has in it something beyond
a simple drawing from Nature.
29. 白露や さつ男の胸毛 ぬるゝほど
(Shira tsuyu ya satsu o no muna ge nururu hodo)
word: shiratsuyu(白露), “dew, dewdrop” (autumn)
‘Satsuo(さつ男)’ is a hunter.
It's uncertain whether the hunter has been chasing games all night or he
started to hunt from early morning. Either way, dews have fallen so heavily
that they have soaked even the hair on his chest. The grounds that the dews which the
Poet created are anything but uncertainty, which is noted by both Prof. Ogata and Mr. Takahashi, are worthy of
analysis. One may be that he combines dews with ever-lasting Nature or with mortal but active human
beings, and gives them lives.
Generally the transience of human life
is often compared to those of morning dews not only in literature but in the state of things in daily lives.
The time is autumn season, which is most melancholic in the year.
Let me quote from Milton and Shakespeare:
(1)From ‘Paradise Lost BookⅤ ℓ 743-746’.
“---”; but Satan with his Powers
Far was advanced on winged speed, an host
Innumerable as the stars of night,
Or stars of morning, dew-drops, which the sun
Impearls on every leaf and every flower.
||Notes and Comments by hokuto77:
Powers=forces i.e. angels who rebelled against God enticed by Satan
an host=a host=an army stars of morning i.e. dew-drops impearl=form into pearl-like
*Here dewdrops on the grass and stars of morning in the sky are both very fleeting, because they are doomed to disappear soon by the rise of the sun. Here Milton indicates that the army of Satan will sooner or later disappear down into the abyss just like morning dewdrops. The time is morning.
(2)From Julius Caesar V iii 60-66;
As in thy red rays thou
dost sink to night,
So in his red blood
Cassius' day is set.
The sun of Rome is set.
Our day is gone;
dews, and dangers come; our deeds are done.
Mistrust of my success hath done this deed.
Notes and Comments by hokuto77:
mistrust=doubt as to the truth or probability (of something)
* According to OED, dew was 'Formerly supposed to fall or descend softly from the heavens'.
Judging from the context, clouds are an omen of disaster and dews are tears from sadness, and
dangers threaten lives. Here dews are not welcome.
The time is evening.
(3)From A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act II scene I 1-15;
Robin How now, spirit, wither wander
Fairy Over hill, over dale,
Over park, over
I do wander every where,
Swifter than the
And I serve the
To dew her orbs
upon the green.
The cowslips tall
her pensoiners be,
In their gold coats
spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours
In their freckles
live their savours.
I must go seek some dewdrops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
Notes and Comments by hokuto77:
thorough=through sphere=one or other of the concentric,
transparent, hollowglobes imagined by the older astronomers
as revolvinground the earth and respectively carrying with
them theseveral heavenly bodies (moon, sun, planets, and
fixed stars) (OED sb. 2 ) * The particular sphere(in sense 2)
appropriate to, or occupied by, each of the planets (or the
fixed stars).(OED sb. 4)
dew(v)=bedew, moisten, water orb=fairy ring, circle
pensoiner=gentleman of the royal bodyguard
favour=omething given or worn as a mark of affection or goodwill,
gift, token freckle=a small light brown spot on the skin
pearl i.e. dewdrop
*The time is evening. Here dewdrops are compared to jewels.
*The above song by Fairy is well known. The role that is played by
dewdrops is the key of the song. Dews are destined to live short-
||To stay overnight
came alone all the way;
The moon 13 days old in September.
泊る気で ひとり来ませり 十三夜
(Tomaru kide hitori
|| Next haiku
word: jyusanya(十三夜), ”the moon on the
13th night of September in the lunar
* 'Jyusanaya'(十三夜) is the moon 13 days old in September in the lunar calendar. When people say 'nochi no tsuki'(後の月), it means ‘jyusanya’.
* 'Jyusanaya' and 'nochino tsuki' are one moon. It comes a month later
than the one that appears in the full on the 15th of August in the lunar calendar.
* ‘Kimaseri(来ませり)’ is an honorific for ‘Kita(来た:came)’,
so ‘He’, the visitor may be a social superior of
Fortunately the night is clear and the
moon may be shining a little cold. The Poet welcomes the visitor who intends to stay overnight with him in order to view the moon fully. The reason the visitor has come all the
way by himself tells us that ‘jyusanya’ is truly worthy of seeing until She sets in the west.
In comparison with the full moon on the
15th of August (chushu no meigetsu),‘jyusanya’ seemed to hang very cold to the people of the Edo period(1603-1868) and probably, by seeing her, they felt they were some steps towards severe
Sad to say, ours
is an age of global warming. It’s now almost impossible to feel the appearance of cold winter from the shining of ‘jyusanya’. Her shining in the Edo period must have been far clearer than today.
||The moon 13 days old in September,
After snipes flew away,
in the water.
31.後の月 鴫たつあとの 水の中
(Nochi no tsuki shigi
tatsu ato no mizu
word: nochi no tsuki(後の月), “the moon on the 13th night of September in the
are snipes, passage birds which pass Japan between summer and autumn. They do not stay long in Japan, which is their flyway and only
their transit resting place. Some of them spend the whole winter here in Japan.
*It's clear that the Poet read the tanka poem many times and was deeply moved by it. The tanka was composed by Saigyo(1118-1190), who was worshiped by Basho(1644-1694) and Basho was adored by the
* He composed the Haiku urged on by the sense of artistic effects of the tanka.
The tanka goes:
心なき 身もあはれは 知られけり 鴫立つ沢の 秋の夕暮れ ― 西行
naki mi mo aware wa shirare keri shigi tatsu sawa no akino yugure)
*Snipes in the tanka are
the origin of season word 'snipes'(鴫). The poem is among 'One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets'. It has been a favorite tanka poem of an endless number of Japanese people from of old. So will
it be in the future.
||Unable to feel the pathos of things,
sentiment rose even in my heart
snipes flew away from the swamp
(Translated by hokuto77)
The Haiku has two season words － the moon and snipes － the one
reflected in the very swamp after the other flying away from the swamp. If both season words are real, the Haiku seems to me to read nothing but a flat explanation
of an autumnal evening scene. If we suppose the latter season word to be an imagined scene,
echoed by recalling the tanka of Saigyo, suddenly the Haiku has emotional depth.
The Poet , seeing ‘nochi no tsuki’ reflected on the swamp, deeply moved with a sense of pathos, was enticed, by the swamp, to remember that deep sentiment which Saigyo entertained when
he saw snipes fly up away from the swamp in the autumn evening.
To appreciate the Haiku properly takes me two steps: the first to image
the moon on the swamp and the second to remember clearly the tanka by Saigyo and be quite thoroughly absorbed in the same tender emotion that Saigyo entertained.
||White Japanese bush clover;
Next spring to divide her roots
32.白萩を 春わかち取 ちぎり哉
(Shira hagi wo haru
wakachi toru chigiri
Season word: shirahagi(白萩), “a white Japanese bush clover” (autumn)
The meaning is quite plain: they have
made a pledge of dividing the roots of white Japanese bush clover next spring. But, as Mr. Takahashi says, it’s quite clear that the Poet implies the pledge is a marriage one. If we read it from this angle, we easily understand the pure and innocent beloved daughter is compared to a white Japanese bush clover cultivated with great care and the Haiku metaphorically hints next spring the girl shall be married off with the divided root of bush clover as a hearty dowry. Sympathetically we feel it sure that those concerned are looking forward to the next spring. It’s certain that the Poet doesn’t refer to his beloved daughter, Kuno.
A cross section of life is casually woven into the Haiku and it's very
33. 雨の萩 山は動かぬ 姿かな
(Ame no hagi yama
wa ugoka nu sugata
Season word: hagi(萩), “a Japanese bush clover” (autumn)
The Haiku lets me form a picture in my mind. The foreground is Japanese bush clovers, and the background a mountain. The former are being beaten and swaying in the rain and look to the Poet
rather miserable. The
latter here is personified, standing calm even in the rain, fine or heavy. Both stand out in sharp contrast to sef off one another and heighten a respective effect on each other.
We have to
keep in mind that the focus of the Haiku is Japanese bush clovers beaten in the rain. They remind me of actual lives of human beings in the society. Some time we live with everything going favorably and some time with cold headwinds. Nature is as stable as a mountain but our beings are temporary against Nature just like bush cloversin the rain. They symbolize realities of this world that are so changeable and unstable as to be beyond our control.
34. そば刈て 居るや我行 道のはた
(Soba kari te iru ya waga yuku michi no
Season word: soba(そば), “buckwheat” (autumn)
*Buckwheat food is a specialty in Kema (毛馬), the Poet’s home village.
The scene itself is
common, not exciting. To me the Haiku reads personal and very emotional. The Poet is greatly moved to see farmers harvesting buckwheat in a field along
the path that he is going on. But something in the sight has struck him.
As Prof. Ogata comments, probably it reminds him of his home village which he deserted long ago for some unknown reason.
It is quite certain that his native home is the last place he is stepping along the path to revisit. But we guess about it some way or other and it draws a lot
of our interest to his psychological process of creation and the Haiku is beyond the mere report of a harvest sight. What is certain is, the Poet cannot forget his home town and his mother even if he won't try to come back there. We will see it more clearly in the next
35. 秋はものゝ そばの不作も なつかしき
(Aki wa monono soba no fusaku
mo natsukashi ki)
Season word: soba(そば), “buckwheat” (autumn)
*'Aki wa monono(秋はものゝ)' means that
people feel the pathos of things more in autumn than in any other season of the year.
They may have had a poor harvest of buckwheat in his native village. Even the sad rumor has a sharp nostalgic direct appeal to the Poet in concert with the pathos-causing autumnal atmosphere. The Haiku sounds very touching. Hokuto77 was moved to tears.
As Prof. Ogata hints, the Haiku deepens its poetic taste through his acceptance of the poor harvest in his home village without any bit of rejection.
The Haiku was composed in 1777, when the Poet was 62 years old. In the year he composed ‘Shumpu Batei Kyoku’ (春風馬堤曲), in which he shows a strong sentimental longing and affection for his home and mother in the words of a girl apprentice who is going home on
her holiday. I suppose something vital must have suddenly come into his mind, 62, and aroused his fervent longing for his home village.
36. 鬼すだく 戸隠のふもと そばの花
(Oni sudaku togakushi no
fumoto soba no hana)
Season word: soba(そば), “buckwheat” (autumn)
*Mt. Togakushi , 1904 high, is located in Nagano City in Nagano Prefecture. The foot isnoted
for its production of buckwheat.
*Sudaku(すだく) means to
flock together, swarm.
*'Oni sudaku togakushi(鬼すだく戸隠)' means Mt.
Togakushi where legendary demons have been believed to swarm to view autumnal leaves. It implies
that the whole mountain gets autumn-tinted.
*Prof. Ogata says that the Poet's conception is based on a Noh play. In the Noh play, called 'Momijigari'(紅葉狩)(to view autumn leaves), Taira Koremochi (平維茂), on a deer hunting, meets with a female
demon in the shape of a young beauty in Mt. Togakushi, while she was giving a scarlet maple
leaves vewing feast gorgeously. Koremochi was nearly seduced by her beautiful dance and a good drink, but after heavy fighting with
swords, finally he subdued her.
Leaves of the mountain have turned red and yellow. White flowers of buckwheat
are in full bloom. In a picture in his mind, leaves are getting more and more reddened, while the flowers are growing all the whiter as the season goes forwards.
The striking and pleasing contrast between the two colors so impresses the Poet that he wanders into the world of the famous Noh play 'Momijigari'(紅葉狩). It seems to me the lives of autumnal leaves, sooner or later, will burn out, while the vigorous energy, hidden in
the white buckwheat, the Poet has found quite overwhelming.
37. 山は暮れて 野は黄昏の 薄哉
(Yama wa kurete no wa
tasogare no susuki kana)
Season word: susuki(薄), “eulalia” (Japanese pampas grass) (autumn)
The duration of the scene in the Haiku is very short. In autumn the sun
sets quickly, as though a bucket falls into a deep well from which to draw fresh water. Far away mountains are already obscured in the deepening darkness. Yet the white ears of eulalias (Japanese pampas grass) faintly reflect a passing afterglow of autumn. Prof. Ogata comments the Poet caught the passing moment and depicted it as a twilight landscape, as
if it were traced on canvas.
First, the Haiku read monotonous, but later, I found it pregnant with love
of fleeting autumnal evening. If we read it more deeply, we may find the
shadow of human life reflecting on the distance from birth to death.
||Harvest moon at the zenith;
On a poor street. [Next haiku☛]
38.月天心 貧しき町を 通りけり
(Tsuki ten shin mazushi ki machi wo tori keri)
Season word:tsuki(月), “the harvest moon”(autumn)
*According to OED, harvest moon is the moon which is full within a fortnight of the autumnal equinox (22 or 23 Sept.), and which rises for several nights nearly at the same hour,at points successively further north on the eastern horizon.
[1706 Watts Horæ Lyr., Vict. Poles over Osman 5 Wks. 1813 IX. 275/1 Seventy harvest-moons Fill'd his wide*gran'ries with autumnal joy.]
*granary=a country or region which produces an abundance of grain and from which
supplies of corn are obtained.
[1832 Lytton Eugene A. i. xii, The broad harvest-moon was in the heavens, and filled the air as with a softer and
definition will be interesting to Japanese readers. London lies in a higher latitude than Tokyo.
*Tenshin (天心) means the middle of the sky, the zenith.
The harvest moon was hanging right over his head. Bathed in moonlight, the town he was walking through stood poor. The poverty was all over brought light though it was late at night. Probably not a soul was to be seen on the street. It was well into the night. How bright! How powerful! How terrible! How sad it is! It’s beyond description.
In one view, the harvest moon shines poverty and riches with equal brightness. The Poet might have thought the moon was fondly watching over the poor street he happened to be passing along.
In English literature, the moon has more often been personified than in
Japanese haiku poetry. OED defines moon as 3.a. "With reference to the moon's position above the earth, or its conspicuousness in the sky; often quasi-personified, e.g. as the witness of *terrestrial doings, the 'queen of the night', or the like." *terrestrial=of the earth, of this world
・Here I quote from Milton's Paradise Lost Book I 784.
“---”, while overhead the
Sits Arbitress, and nearer to
Notes by hokuto77 (for Japanese high school students);
arbitress=a female who has absolute control or
disposal(OED) =witness (John Leonard)
wheel(v)=rotate; cause to move in a circle or cycle(OED)
*heel course to ~ =(loosely) change direction(COD)
・In the Poem, the moon shines as if she watches the dancing and merry-making
of fairy elves ---.
39.番家有 村は更たり けふの月
(Banya aru mura wa fuke tari kyo no tsuki)
Season word: kyo no tsuki (けふの月), “the harvest moon” (autumn)
*Banya(番家･番屋) means a guardhouse, a guard station.
*Fukeru (更る) means the
The village has a guard station equipped with. People have a sense of security
against robbers or undesirable accidents. It's the 15th night of the
eighth lunar month. Villagers are viewing the harvest moon without any anxiety about
their lives. It's already far into the night. They are thankful to Nature.
It's doubtful whether the Haiku is created as it really happened or from
imagination. But, either way, the Poet stares in warm relief
at the moonlit village.
I caught a Japanese sea bass,
And felt guilty;
Moonlight on the waves.
|| Next haiku➭
40. 魲釣て 後めたさよ 浪の月
(Suzuki tsuri te ushiro metasa yo nami no
Season word: suzuki(鱸), "a Japanese sea bass" (autumn)
*In his letter of Sep 7, 1777, to his disciples, Ryujyo and her son Gazui, the Poet referred to the Haiku and other haikus, No.35, and 19 etc.
“---.” I am so busy and have gotten no haiku. But I show you some few of
them on the left. None of them are satisfactory. Yours
Unexpectedly the Poet caught a Japanese sea bass. He was quite delighted. According to Prof. Ogata, the reflection of moonlight on the waves was so pure that it changed his delight of getting a big fish into a guilty conscience. If we make a little
jump of interpretation, it is the depth of his tenderness and introspection that attracts us readers to the Haiku.
Japanese sea bass was landed;
Its huge mouth so wide open
Just like to
spit out a jewel.
41. 釣上し 魲の巨口 玉や吐く
(Tsuri age shi suzuki no kyo guchi tama ya haku)
Season word: suzuki(鱸), "a Japanese sea bass" (autumn)
The landed "Japanese sea bass" tries to escape from the hook
or attack, full of vigor, large mouth wide open. The aggressive motion is so fierce that it
looks like his large mouth is going to spit out something. The Poet is struck with wonder at the strong life force of the sea bass. Neither fire nor poisonous breath does
he imagine, but a precious stone. The grounds for his such imagination are of absorbing interest to me. He has discovered the enrichment of life force in the sea bass he caught. Moreover, he feels the life will condense itself into a gem as immutability. I think
such imagery is especially characteristic of the Poet.
||He lost the sumo bout:
It's the last thing he expected.
What complaints in a pillow talk!
42.負まじき 角力を寝もの がたり哉
(Maku majiki sumai wo
nemono gatari kana)
Season word: sumai (bout, tournament) (角力), "bout" (autumn)
*The Haiku has a preface.
It reads：懐旧 (kaikyu) that means retrospection.
*Sumahi(角力) means sumo bout.
*The history of sumo is long. It was, originally, one of Shinto rituals,
or divine service. In the Nara and Heian
periods (710~1192), every year, on the 28th day of the seventh lunar month, the Emperor watched sumo bouts at Court. Chosen
sumo wrestlers were summoned from various provinces. One of the purposes
of the event was probably the
prediction of a good harvest or a poor harvest of the year.
Even today, autumnal festivals held at
shrines or temples throughout the country have a sumo tournament in its programs. Participants are not professionals,
but volunteers or representatives of a group or team, and the like. The six official sumo tournaments of today are not considered as a season word here.
It's doubtful whether the Poet had any real sumo bout or not. However, judging from the preface 'retrospection' literally, probably the Poet did a sumo bout when young. Anyway, the point of the Haiku is, the man,
defeated, talked about the sumo match in detail even in bed and complained
of the defeat bitterly. It's the course of nature and causes some sympathy
and a smile as well. Naturally we imagine how the listener, his wife or
lover, make appropriate responses with more or less interest according
to his tones of voice.
The Poet was well versed in human nature. A lot of things, Nature, such as seasons, , animals, plants, and human affairs have been included into haiku poetry, but it is, essentially, the poetry based on humanities, and therefore, that leads us into a new world of life through artistic reproduction. I think haiku poetry is "art for life's sake", not only 'for art's sake'.
43. 鳥羽殿へ 五六騎いそぐ 野分哉
(Tobadono e gorokki isogu nowaki kana)
Season word: nowaki(野分), a typhoon in the early autumn(autumn)
*Tobadono(鳥羽殿) is the Imperial villa used by the ex-emperor Shirakawa and Toba (白河、鳥羽). It was situated in the southern part of the Capital, Kyoto in the Heian period (794~1192).
Nobody reads the Haiku without forming a scene in his mind readily. The
Haiku has three elements that arouse our sense of weirdness, uneasiness, and
gloomy foreboding. One is 'Tobadono', which stands for the government by a retired emperor, with the possibility of political disturbance. Another is 'mounted warriors', which represents a disquieting behavior or a riot. The last is 'a typhoon in the early autumn', in which the first two climax with psychological suggestions of political turmoil, or a civil war. Besides, an autumnal typhoon is associated with a long severe winter.
Here in this respect, there is no substitute of the season word for 'a typhoon in the early autumn'. In the Haiku, fiction plays a very important role, but many agree that
it ranks among his best haiku poems. Next haiku➩
Wives and children eat
In the temple;
Typhoon of early autumn!
44. 妻も子も 寺で物くふ 野分かな
(Tsuma mo ko mo tera de mono ku nowaki kana)
Season word: nowaki(野分), ‘a typhoon in the early autumn’ (autumn)
In Japan, before the Meiji era (1868~1912), there were no sturdy buildings, such as schools, gymnasiums, city auditoriums of
today, except castles, temples, shrines, and grand samurai mansions. Temples and their precincts in villages were
used for evacuation centers. Typhoons hit Japan around the 210th day (from the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar) were mostly detructive. In many
places people, farm products ,and assets suffered tremendous disasters.
What a violent typhoon! Wives and children have already evacuated to the
temple. Men might be busy protecting houses, or watching rice fields, or preparing
for a flood. People are afraid it will take time for the typhoon to pass
away. They had no TV or radio or telephone, in short, no access to the
latest information about the typhoon at all. The fear is plainly read in
the Haiku that male villagers entertained for the life security of their
[On the record-breaking earthquake and tsunami] (Updated on June 4, 2011)
Here I’d like to take this opportunity to think a little about damages
caused by natural disasters in Japan.
It was not only
in the far past that Japan was struck by major catastrophes. Japan has long been called an earth-quake-prone archipelago or we are on and surrounded by zones of active shiftings and faultings of the beds and our islands are located along typhoons’favorite paths.
Once, Torahiko Terada (寺田虎彦) (1878-1935) said, "natural disasters strike us when they’re least expected", and this is not always inapplicable
to the present day. With global warming in progress, every year we suffer some natural disaster or other. If it
happens to be an unlucky year, calamities often deal a double blow to us. Chief among them are torrential rains, tremendous snowfalls, major typhoons, high tides caused
by them, mammoth quakes and massive tsunamis triggered by by them, and
volcanic eruptions, which are not as frequent as the others. Each time, joining hands, we have
supported victims in disaster-stricken areas, doing our best to help them rebuild utterly destroyed but dear home places.
As you know, this year, 2011, March 11 coastal areas of the Tohoku region were almost completely devastated by
the super earthquake and unprecedented monstrous tsunami. The earthquake is designated as the Great East Japan Earthquake. Casualties are exceedingly heavy. The death toll has continued to mount and June 1, though about eighty days after the horrible quake and tsunami, sadly it has reached 15,310, with 8,404 people left unaccounted for.
From of old, the Tohoku region suffered from a
harsh climate, it being harsh in winter and 'cold weather damage' in summer. The hardships farmers had undergone there was quite beyond description. Under such unfavorable farming conditions, they protected their ancestral farmland for many generations
with utmost patience. Eventually such efforts have made their agriculture
The farming there, together with the fishing
industry, which needs as much patience as agriculture, has made the districts as prosperous as any other
place in Japan. But all of a sudden, in an instant, the tremendous quake
and unimaginable tsunami destroyed all the accumulated fruits of unremitting labor of so many a generation.
It’s all due to such cultural climate of the Tohoku region, I presume,
that patience as practical virtue has gotten rooted in the people of the
Tohoku region. In the immediate aftermath of the tragic
accident, survivors’ cool, calm and collected patient behaviors, as an individual or a member of community,
reportedly have been highly praised by the mass media worldwide. One of their compatriots, I heartily feel a noble pride at them.
What has made the aftermath a serious national crisis is the tragedy that
the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant was triggered by the horrifying quake and tsunami. Radioactive pollution has been spreading
dangerously far and wide; into fresh water, seawater, farm products, fishes,
the atmosphere etc. As everyone suggests, this unprecedented nuclear crisis was more man-made than natural disaster. There are plausible reasons for such a disgraceful
blame.If I enumerate them as they occur to me, roughly six faults will be itemized.
1) The lack of sense of responsibility and negligence on the part of topmost management.
2) The inadequate sense of crisis management.
3) The inability to forecast urgent crises to its extreme limit before
constructiing nuclear power plant.
4) Too clumsy a treatment after the outbreak of the emergency, in other
words, the failure to take effective measures on the moment the crisis broke out.
5) The deliberate cover-up of unfavorable facts undertaken by Tokyo Electric
6) The mutual distrust between the government and Tokyo Electric Power
The nuclear accident has sent worldwide shock
waves to the future of electric power output and supply. At the same time, the whole world felt incalculable
amount of anxiety and the fear of being exposed to radiation spewing from
one of the Far East. (Japan
is the one A-bomb victim, whose inhuman tragedy was a man-made one 66 years ago. Hokuto77 was 6 years old.)
In spite of this unwelcome hellish delivery from Japan, the whole world
kindly offered moral, material, and technical supports. The swift rescue
operation fromoverseas greatly helped and encouraged ours.
We cannot express our too deep gratitude for them. What's a big thank-you for their hearty aid? The answer is to survive the colossal damage and recover, though a long
way ahead to it, as swiftly as possible and become a newborn Japan that will positively play a leading
role in energy, economy, environment and peace.
What is truly required
is uniformity. They say Naoto Kan, supreme commander of the crisis management, is a bit unreliable and surely he is rather reluctant
to resign. Even so, now is not the time to compete for power, opposed to
each other. Japan has no room for shabby political turmoil caused by no-confidence
motion. Such a political confusion will bear no fruit. And what we expect last is critical
words and deeds based on distrust. To join hands on mutual trust is of
urgent necessity. All the politicians are obliged to devote themselves
to acting as one for the rapid recovery from nation-wide enormous loss.On the other hand, the public is expected to be patient before finding
fault with what people concerned are trying in order to find decisive way
into rescue and recovery of devastated areas and lead Japan as a whole
to its healthy survival. We have to remember there is no royal road or
magical, miraculous step to rebuilding.
Dear readers, thanks for reading my roundabout way of expressions. I hope
you will warmly wait and see our earnest efforts fruitful in a near future.
45.起て居て もう寝たと云 夜寒哉
(Okite ite mo neta to yu yosamu kana)
Season word: yosamu(夜寒), ‘the night cold’ (autumn)
The Haiku has a sort of after word. The Poet wrote to his disciple, Masana(正名), about the Haiku. It reads:
(Kinrai no ryuko, mettani shisai rashiku kuzukuri soro koto, munen no kotoni
soro. Soreyue, oriori wa, kakumo itashi mise moshi soro.)
Recently, it is prevalent to compose haiku so much as if it has some significance. The trend is a matter for deep regret. That is why occasionally
I compose this kind of haiku as a model. (Translated by hokuto77)
In late autumn, towards
winter, people have such a night when they keenly feel cold. It's yet autumn but the night cold is biting. On such a cold evening
some boorish, rude person, probably the Poet thought so, called at his house. His quick reaction was to tell the person that he was already in bed before the visitor tried to enter his house, which must be a thatched cottage. The person might have some serious
matter on which he wanted to ask him for advice but the night cold robbed him of his consideration for the visitor. The example is among everyday happenings,
and not rare.
We are not
much impressed nor get any surprise by reading the Haiku. Or rather we feel empathy and give a satisfactory smile. What the Poet intended in his letter to Masana (正名 ) is, I suppose, that to compose haiku is to express daily occurrences in
simple everyday language without using much technical skill. This is his cherished view of haiku poems. Moreover, what is needed here is penetrating
or fresh insight and a fine human touch and creativity. It goes without
saying that the mere explanation of daily lives is anything but literature, no matter what form of expression it may be described in.
46.洟たれて 独碁をうつ 夜寒かな
(Hana tare te hitori go o utsu yosamu kana)
Season word: yosamu(夜寒), ‘the night cold’ (autumn)
'Go' is of Chinese origin. It's a game played with black and white
stones on a board, the object being to surround the opponent' stones by putting a stone by
turns and to gain a larger area on the board than that of the opponent.Impression:
Loneliness seems to be deepened in the night cold, but the vitality of
an old man stands out in relief. He must be fairly aged. The night is so cold for the season that none visits
him at night. As Mr. Takahashi imagine, he may be reenacting the lost game by himself or thinking of a new trick for the next game on the surface of a 'go' board.
In any case what interests us most is that his nose is running but he doesn't
care about it. A sudden night cold in autumn, though long as usual, has
a psychological influence over our routine lives. The old man, defying
the unexpected cold and his runny nose, is deeper and deeper buried in
the autumnal long night.
Torch went out,
sea vaguely coming into sight;
47. 松明消て 海少し見る 花野かな
(Matsu kie te umi sukoshi miyu ru hanano kana)
Season word: hanano (花野), ‘flower field (of autumn)’ (autumn)
He might have started early in dead darkness, lighting the way with a torch.
Some time after the start, the torch went out. Then, the sea vaguely came into sight in the morning twilight. Afer a while, suddenly, he was delighted to find himself in the flower field of autumn.
According to Mr. Takahashi, the coloring in the Haiku changes overnight with the passage of time and he adds that the Haiku was composed in 1777, when the Poet was 62 and in the prime of creative activities, writing Shumpu Bateikyoku (春風馬堤曲) and other major haikus. Mr. Takahashi proposes that in the Haiku the Poet expressed his excited emotion in the disguise of nature or 'flower field in the twilight'.
I think with the marked change of colors in the Haiku the Poet hints at the boundless life energy in man and Nature.
Making a fire to cook
On a moored boat;
Fireworks in the
48. 物焚て 花火に遠き かゝり舟
(Mono tai te hanabi ni to ki kakari bune)
Season word: hanabi(花火), ‘fireworks’ (autumn)
Someone is cooking on a boat at anchor. It's small and the small fire is
seen in the dark. He lives in a small way, regardless of sparkling fireworks in the distance.
The scene led the Poet to ponder over what the real existence is.
As critics say, a small but real fire on the boat carries far more weight
of life than short-lived, brilliant, unfounded fireworks. I think it's
a witness to the fact that, though poor, a man lives an independent genuine
life of his own.
49. 己が身の 闇より吼て 夜半の秋
(Onoga mi no yami yori
hoete yowa no aki)
Season word: yowano aki(夜半の秋),‘ midnight of autumn’ (autumn)
In the Poet's prefatory note he says that Mr. Maruyama painted a black dog, and he asked him to praise it in his haiku.
The painted black dog
barked at midnight. If so, it would have made top news. On reading the Haiku, I remembered a well known legend about a painted tiger on the screen.
It's doubtful whether the Haiku is based on a real scene or not. I think there's something symbolical about
it. According to critics, 'the darkness of his self' may stand for either black of the painted dog, or a spiritual darkness (無明の闇) of a person, esp. the Poet himself.
||The mountains, darkened,
Autumn tints of red and gold.
50. 山暮れて 紅葉の朱を 奪ひけり
(Yama kure te momiji no ake
wo ubai keri)
Season word: momiji(紅葉),'scarlet maple leaves; tinged autumnal leaves;
autumn tints of red and gold, crimson leaves' (autumn)
After sunset, the
crimson of tinged autumnal leaves in the mountains has melted into the twilight and turned dark purple. The color transition does not
only give us an impression of the mere depiction of evening landscape of
autumn, but reflects the frailty of human life.
The leaves in the Haiku, are yet on the branches, not falling nor fallen,
and the color, before sunset, represents the burning flame of life, though
their falling is a question of time. Sunset has deprived them of their
colors before being scattered in the wind. It is an unexpected sad event
to the Poet, and his dear autumnal leaves. It hints us the existence of something spiritual.
'Fallen leaves' or 'dead leaves' is a winter season word in haiku. They
do not belong to autumn any longer in haiku. Autumnal leaves in Europe,
including Britain, whether in trees or falling in the wind or scattered
on the ground or on the water, they belong to autumn in the sense of season
of European people. Now is a global age but no small is the difference
of sense of season between the peoples, subtle as it seems. To our relief,
both in Europe and in Japan transient human life is often compared to falling
leaves in many literary works.
Now I quote Paradise Lost Book I.299~304. It reads:
||Nathless he so endured, till on the
inflamed sea he stood, and called
legions━Angel Forms, who lay entranced
Thick as autumnal leaves that
strow the brooks
In Vallombrosa, where the Etrurian shades
High over-arched embower;
*Etruria=an ancient country of west-central Italy in present-day Tuscany and parts of Umbria. It was the center of the Etruscan civilization, which spread throughout much of Italy before being supplanted by Rome in the third century BC. (Wikipedia)
*shade=the shelter from the sun afforded by trees; overshadowing foliage *overarch=arch over, bend like an arch, form an arch over
*embower=shelter, enclose as in a bower
*word order: where the Etrurian shades embower
high over-arched [S+V+C] Cf. high-arched high-arched roofs
|[Notes by hokkuto77 for Japanese high school students]
*Nathless=nevertheless *inflamed=set on fire, burning, in flames *he stood [he=Satan] *legion=a multitude (frequently of angels or spirits)
*angel forms = of angelic figures *entrance=throw into a trance [trance=an conscious or insensible condition] *lay entranced Thick as --- V+C+C [as=like]
*Autumnal Leaves: The
expression was used to compare the passing generations (or numberless dead) to
falling leaves. (Notes by John Leonard) Here it means that there are so many fallen angels crowded in the Hell
as if they were fallen leaves. *strow<strew=be spread or scattered (upon a surface) *brook=a small stream (originally a torrent, a strong flowing stream)
Vallombrosa=a wooded valley in Tuscany (Etruria), which Milton may have visited. (Notes
by John Leonard) The name means ‘valleys of
Satan Awakens his Fallen legions
Here from P.B. Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind" (i 1-5). It reads:
O wild West
Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic
*pestilence=any fatal epidemic disease, affecting man or beast, and destroying many victims; pest *pestilence-stricken=afflicted with pest
*multitudes=great numbers, hosts
1)the dead leaves are driven
from 2)like ghosts fleeing from
hokuto77 for Japanese high school students]
*wild=acting or moving freely without restraint
*Autumn’s being [being=existence (T.Saito), =god (S.Ojima)]
Either way, Autumn is personified here.
*thou breath: apposition *whose unseen i.e. thy unseen
*presence=the state of being before, in front of a person or thing ex.
O God, unseen, yet ever near, Thy presence we may feel. (E. Osler) *enchanter=one who uses magic
*flee=try to escape by flight *hectic=applied to that kind of fever which accompanies or other wasting disease,and is attended with flushed cheeks
and hot dry skin
The quotation from Dante’s Divine Comedy Inferno: Canto III (106-120)
Thereafter all together they drew
Bitterly weeping, to the accursed shore,
Which waiteth every man who fears not God.
Charon the demon, with the eyes of glede,
Beckoning to them, collects them all together,
Beats with his oar whoever lags behind.
As in the autumn-time the leaves fall
First one and then another, till the branch
Unto the earth surrenders all its spoils;
In similar wise the evil seed of Adam
Throw themselves from that margin one by one,
At signals, as a bird unto its lure.
So they depart across the dusky wave,
And ere upon the other side they land,
Again on this side a new troop assembles.
[Notes by hokuto77 for Japanese high school students]
*accursed=lying under a curse; detestable *waiteth=waits
*Charon=(in Greek and Latin myth.) the name of the ferryman who conveyed the shades of the departed Across the Styx.
*demon=an evil spirit or devil *glede<gleed=squint-eyed
*beckon=signal *lag behind=fall behind; not keep pace
*surrender=hand over *spoils=stolen goods
*wise=way, manner *seed=descendants
*lure=a bunch of feathers with a piece of meat attached to a long strin swung
around the head to recall a hawk
*dusky=shadowy; dim; dark-colored *ere=before
*troop=a group of people or animals of a particular kind
Canto 3 Charon strikes
We simply recognize an obvious contrast in the poetic stance of the four
Poets on autumnal leaves. Buson , like other Japanese poets, loves tinged autumnal leaves themselves as independent beings and empathizes with them, linking them with his own thinking, feelings, and daily lives. On the other hand, Milton, Shelly, and Dante watch them objectively and use them as a simile. Mental or psychological
states of hero or heroine or minor characters, and even conditions of life
which they are in are compared to autumnal leaves. I suppose this will
be mostly true to their creative attitudes to the natural world. Roughly
speaking, there is no denying that a marked difference lies in the contemplation
of Nature between Buson and the other three poets.