Living in the World of Buson

to Top

Surprise and Delight
Dear readers! Thank you for visiting Buson’s Summer.
 In launching my website Buson, I thought of the title “Living in the World of Buson, firmly convinced it's very rare. As it is, about 9,290 websites with similar titles are already created, Geogle reports. If you input the keyword Buson’ in the frame and click on the searching button, Geogle will inform you of about 291,000 sites concerning it. This gave me both another big shock of surprise and not a bit of delight as well. I have visited some of them, only to be wondered at their superb English translations of haiku by
the Poet and diversities of academic studies on the Poet.
 To be honest, I hesitated to update the site furhter. It took me some time to pull myself together and set to grapple with a simple study of the Poet.The feeling of pure pleasure mostly taken in this delightful reality is based on the fact that the Poet is immortal in his haiku poems, as well as in his other achievements and that the real world is great and far wider tthan my own imaginary one.
 Now, of my own accord, I've decided to try my best to improve and deepen the translations of
his haiku, which decision has given me a fresh vigor. I’ll be warmly encouraged by my dear readers’ repeated visits.


Please click the season word of the haiku you'd like to read.

ayu fish 鮎 27 barley harvest  麦の秋 17,18 change of clothes 更衣 1,2
cool 涼しさ 25,26 cormorant fishing-river 鵜河 13 crucian sushi 鮒ずし 8
daki-kago 抱籠 43       early summer rainさみだれ 10,11 firefly ほたる 47
fresh summer water 清水 39,40  ge-gaki 夏書 38 linked kimono 袷 3-5
little cuckoo ほとゝぎす 6,7 melon 真桑 30 mosquito net 蚊屋 20
rice-planting 田植 41,42 round fan made of paperうちわ29 short night 短じか夜 49
small mosquito net まくら蚊帳 48 strong smell of grass 草いきれ36 smudge かやり21smudge かやり34,35  
summer brook 夏河 44 summer heat 暑 22-24 summer moonlight 夏の月 45
sushi made overnight 一夜鮨 9 thundercloud 雲の峰 37 torching fish 夜ぶり 50
trees in full summer 夏木立ち 14-16 peony 牡丹 31-33 white flowers of thorns 花いばら 28
winged ants 飛蟻 46 young bamboos 若竹 51 young leaves 若葉 12
Each figure shows the number of haiku poems with the season word in themselves.
Tragedy or Hope I  *To Tragedy or Hope II➧
A Useful Glimpse into Tanka Poem

Death penalty by their Lord
The couple change clothes.


Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

1. 御手打ちの 夫婦なりしを  更衣
    (Oteuchi no   myoto narishi wo  koromo gae)

Season word: koromo gae(更衣),"the change of clothes"(summer)
the Edo period (1603 - 1867) 'Oteuchi'(御手打ち ) was the death penalty, mostly being cut to death by the sword, imposed by the Lord of samurai family, when his retainers committed some indiscretion or violated family bans.
*In former times, the custom of seasonal change of clothing, or koromogae was regularly kept, young and old, high and low. In the Edo period the custom was kept exactly on April 1 according to the lunar calendar, Mr. Takahashi says in his
'Buson Shunjyu'(蕪村春秋):
 They changed their 'Wataire' for 'Awase'. 'Wataire' is a thick kimono clothes containing a lot of cotton to keep the body warm.'Awase' is a lined kimono clothes, very thin to keep the body cool.

 Changing into summer clothes in the Haiku indicates that there is warmth of human activity. The married couple may be young. As Mr. Takahashi and Prof. Ogata suggest, they might have violated the family ban or committed a thing morally unacceptable. But, strange to say, the pair in the Haiku was exempted from 'Oteuchi', or the death penalty for some reason or other and have lived so far in the shadows, somewhere away from the samurai family
 Summer has come round this year and modestly the couple change clothes. But the seasonal seemingly little event may give them a sheer delihght that they are now living and will be living in the future.The last five words
Koromogae(更衣), or the change of clothes leads us to dramatic ending, but I'm quite sure the Haiku is deeply rooted in the human delicacy.

Though fleeting,
They felt a fresh love
On the day of changing clothes.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

2. かりそめの 恋をする日や 更衣
  (Karisome no koi wo suru hi ya koromo gae)

Season word: koromo gae(更衣),"the change of clothes"(summer)
 'Karisonme no  koi'(
かりそめの恋) is literally
a fleeting love. In the Haiku the two feel fresh love to each other for the first time in a long while, though they know well it is a short 'the change of clothes' romance.
 The seasonal change of clothes gives people fresh points of view, that is, a sense of radical departure from routine, more precisely, daily boredom between the two sexes not only in their practical trifles but in psychological function. Especially the Poet focuses our attention on the refreshment to the tedium in romance, or breaking the stereotyped sexual habit between a man and wife. He is always looking to human activities closely related to or based on Nature and expresses them in an irresistibly refined manner and form.
 Readers, though it’s a logical jump away from the subject, let’s daringly go into the inner monologue scene from Act I, scene 2 in ‘King Lear’. It goes:

Failing to die when he would,
Wears his lined kimono,'awase.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

3. 西行は 死そこなふて 袷かな
  (Saigyo wa  shini soko note  awase kana)

Season word: awase(),"a lined kimono" (summer)
Saigyo was one of the most famous tanka poets in Japan. It is traditionally said that he died on February 16 of the lunar calendar in 1190, just as he had wished in one of his famous tanka poem, which goes:
           願はくは  花の下にて春死む  そのきさらぎの  望月のころ
                (Negawaku ba  hana no shita nite haru shinamu
sono kisaragi no  Mochiduki no koro)

Would I breathe my last
Under cherry tress in full bloom
When the moon is full in February.

(Translated by hokuto77)
My earnest desire is that I may die
Beneath the cherry blossoms,
In spring, the second month, at the full moon.
 (Translated by R.H. Blyth)

<Words notes>
*hana()=cherry blossoms      *Kisaragi(如月) = February according to the lunar calendar
*Mochiduki(望月) = a full moon
 *'Shini soko nau'(死にそこなふ) literally has two meanings; one is failing to kill oneself, and the other outliving one's time. In the Haiku it means the latter, that is, the person in question did not die as he had swished to but,
as you know, it has reality only in the Haiku.
*The month February in the tanka by
Saigyo is around March according to the new calendar.
 According to academic critics, the theme of the Haiku goes:
In spite of his strong desire, Saigyo could not die as he wished and was forced to change into summer clothes, ‘awase’, or linked kimono.
 As above mentioned, in his last year,
Saigyo did not outlive to April of the lunar calendar when people used to change their clothes. The Poet, by combining Saigyo's famous tanka with the annual customary of changing clothes, produced a humorous haiku poem of pure fiction. Regardless of the fact, he let his imagination run free. I think it better for us to share the imagination with the Poet. He firmly felt the change of seasons and observed in his mind people, dead or alive, including Saigyo though dead, all together do the change of clothes on the same day. Academic critics say that Buson adored Basho(芭蕉)(1644 - 1694) and Basho admired Saigyo(西行)(1118 - 1190).
 Under the modern calendar, it seems strange to think of cherry blossoms blooming in February, but, according to the lunar calendar, we are under February's full moon. Just as he had prayed, Saigyo met his death in February in the lunar calendar. Although he died on the 16th, one day after the full moon, the great poet is remembered on the 15th.

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

Sleeve length, dress length
Exiles wear linked kiomonos.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

4. ゆきたけを 聞で流人の 袷哉
  (Yukitake wo  kika de runin no  awase kana)

Season word: awase(),"a lined kimono" (summer)
the Edo period(1603 ~ 1867) exiles were provided with lined kimonos.
 It makes no difference whether they are going to be sent into exile or are living in exile on an island. Even exiles wore ‘awase’, or lined kimono in summer. But naturally there was no consideration for their size. Probably the Poet was not on the spot where ‘awase’ would be supplied. But we readers find here the Poet's warm-hearted sympathetic associations and his high expectation for the greatest possible fullness that the new season, summer, will bestow on them.

Five women peddlers;
Selling their goods
Together in lined kimonos
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

5. 小原女の 五人揃ふて あはせかな
   (Oharame no  gonin soro te  awase kana)

Season word:
awase(),"a lined kimono" (summer)
小原女) is a woman peddler from Ohara(小原) located near Kyoto City.
 All of a sudden, the Poet felt relieved to hear women peddlers from Ohara near Kyoto City giving calls cries, with a ware on heads. And, to his great joy, they were refreshingly clad in lined kimonos together as if uniformed. The figure 'five' never fails to tell us readers both the heat of summer and vigorous human activities.

6. Little cuckoo flew
Over Heian Castle

ほとゝぎす 平安城を 筋違に
  (Hototogisu heian jyo o sujikai ni)
In the image left, the square section within the red line is the site of Heian Castle or the Heian Palace.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

Season word: hototogisu(ほとゝぎす),"little cuckoo" (summer)
 Heian Castle(
平安城) in the Haiku is the Heian Palace, or the ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto. In the central part of ancient Kyoto, the streets were laid out just like a grid, that is, a square on a 'go' () board, that has been well preserved so far, escaping serious war damage and earthquake disasters.
  According to academic critics, legend has it that a little cuckoo in Kyoto always flies singing down from Mt.Hieizan(比叡山) south-west, or toward Hachiman district(八幡).
the Poet heard a sharp cry of a hototogisu, a little cuckoo. Then, he sighted her fly in the dark or around the Palace diagonally. The high point of the Haiku is a ‘diagonal flight' of a hototogisu in the Poet's mind's eye. Stillness and sharpness and swiftness are very strikingly contrasted. The Haiku seems to intimate to us readers that the feebleness of man's activities, compared with the wild power of hototogisu.
Digression: Dear readers, let's walk out into
Paradise Lost by John Milton;
 I show you Satan's oblique flight (in Book III). It goes:

He, “---“          without longer pause           561
Down right into the world's first region throws
His flight precipitant, and winds with ease
Through the pure marble air his oblique way
Amongest innumerable stars, that shone
Stars distant, but nigh hand seemed other worlds,

flight of Satan

a grid layout of streets

Words notes (for Japanese high school students):
region=one of the successive portions into which the air or atmosphere is theoretically divided according to height
   (It was probably divided into *Upper, Middle, Lower.)   
precipitant=falling headlong; headlong, directed
  straight downwards (OED quoted the line.)   
wind one’s way=move in a curve(OED 7d quoted the line.)
with ease=easily    pure=clean, clear
marble=smooth as marble(OED 7d quoted the line )<OED says the word 'marble' is derived from a Greek word meaning 'sparkling'.  amongst=among      oblique 斜めの、はすかいの (the first syllable to be stressed)
    [Diagonal in the Haiku is crossing a straight-sided figure from corner to corner, and Oblique in the Poem is
  diverging from a straight line or course, so we have a difference in their
nigh hand=near or close at hand; close by(OED quoted the line.)

Constructions notes (for Japanese high school students):
562 the World's first region=the vast space between the universe’s outer shell and the earth’s atmosphere(noted by J.Leonard)  最高空(noted by M.Shigeno)  According to height, the region was divided into three parts - Upper, Middle, Lower, so that the first region means the upper part.(最高空)
562~ (he) throws His flight precipitant Down right into the World's first region
565~6 shone (like) distant Stars.

 Satan is on his adventure way to Eden on the earth, where the first human beings, Adam and Eve, created by God, are living a happy and innocent life. His evil intention of finding his way there is to fall the two persons by alluring them to eat fruit of the forbidden tree in order to avenge God. As the quoted lines read, he does not make a straight flight but makes his way obliquely, dodging stars. This flight of his is not written in the Bible.
It’s Milton’s own poetic imagination and it tickles our fancy greatly.

 As for Buson, as I’ve already said in Impression, the diagonal fight of a hototogisu is not a real one that the Poet himself sighted but a product of his mind’s eye. Hototogisu might instinctively ride a descending air current with some object in view, but the Haiku arouses great curiosity among us. (By hokuto77)

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

No poem for parting from lover
How hard!
Hototogisu in the morn.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

7.歌なくて  きぬ" つらし ほとゝぎす
   (Uta naku te kinuginu tsurashi hototogisu)

Season word
: hototogisu(ほとゝぎす),"little cuckoo" (summer)

Kinuginu'(きぬ") is a 'morning' when a couple are to be separated from each other after having sex.
 A man in the Haiku tried as hard as he could to dedicate a tanka poem to his love, in saying 'so long' to her in the morning, but the effort failed him, when he heard a cry of a little cuckoo.  His emotion might be mixed and contending, where
the Poet entered and pitied for the lover in his own poetic imagery.
 Mr.Takahashi comments that
the Haiku contains a delicate irony in it to the decline of a poetic life and sentiment in his contemporaries, compared to those of the ancient times. The view is much to the point. Generally, love affairs used to be very poetical, whether it was lawful or illicit. The origin of poetic element of love affairs will be traced back to the Nara (710-794) and the Heian (794-1192) periods.

Cruician sushi!
Hikone Castle
Covered with floating clouds.
 the castle tower
seen from afar
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

8. 鮒ずしや 彦根の城に 雲かゝる
   (Funazushi ya  hikone no shiro ni  kumo kakaru)

Season word: funazushi(鮒ずし),"a crucian sushi" (summer)

* 'A crucian sushi' was a favorite with
Buson. The crucian sushi is a specialty of Otsu district in Shiga Prefecture. Today Otsu City is nine minutes train ride from Kyoto City and Hikone City about forty minutes train ride from Otsu City.
 The crucian sushi in the Haiku must have been one of products of Otsu region. Crucian's scales gills, visceral parts are taken away and the rest are salted. After this process, slices are sandwiched between rice, one by one, and pressed for some time to be fermented naturally. The seasoning and maturing of crucian sushi is a very delicate operation.
The whole process calls for skill and experience. Of course, it must be a well-kept trade secret.
*The Poet wrote to Tairo(大魯), one of his disciples:
   (Kono ku kaisu bekara zaru mono ni soro.tokaku kiki uru hito mare nite,tada, kito nomi misho itashi soro.)
It translates:
   "The Haiku is not appreciated as it should be and people are apt to miss its depth. It is only Kito () who smiled to
me with its understanding." (Translated by hokuto77). In the same letter Buson asked Tairo (大魯) for comments on the Haiku. I can’t possibly get Tairo’s comments at all.

Please let me a little digress:
                                               To Ii Naosuke ☛
Hikone Castle, of which the Castle Tower, is the National Treasure, ten minutes walk from JR Hikone Station in Shiga Prefecture, is located to the east of Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake. It's former owner, Lord Ii Naosuke  
井伊直弼) was Chief Minister of the Shogun, and is now known as the man who helped open Japan to international trade'. In 1860, that was around a century later than the Haiku was composed, he was stabbed to death outside the Gate of Sakuradamon(桜田門) because of his violent crack-down on the radical ideas. Eight years after the assassination, the Meiji Restoration was attained and Japan made its first step toward a modern nation open to all the world.
The Poet had a rest at a tea house on Lake Biwa, enjoying his favorite cruciansushi. A cloud formed from the lake and was drifting up towards the Castle Tower of Hikone. He happened to notice the scene. I believe the cloud was not a figment of his imagination but really existed. The cloud plays a prominent role in the Haiku. It's very clear the cloud will cause no shower of rain at all.
 Academic critics say the taste of well matured 'crucian sushi' and the large-scaled landscape, together with the early summer breeze, gave a lot of refreshment to the Poet.
The scenery in the Haiku is magnificent. Even to those who haven’t ever tasted a crucian sushi, nor seen Hikone Castle in the distance, the Haiku will give a breathtaking impression. The rest of sushi haiku by
the Poet may well be thought to be discolored by this eminent one.
 Here, I think we must carefully consider at what point Kito () nodded smiling to Buson .
 The floating cloud can’t be regarded as an omen, good or bad, for the future of the Poet or the castle. It’s just a moving piece of the workings of Nature in the still vast scenery which the Poet is viewing quite by chance. The key is how to interpret the sailing cloud.
 I know my guess is wide of the mark. Kito's impression goes:
 "Well matured crucian sushi gives him a deeply satisfying feeling and he admires the scenery around him with a real sense of fulfilled existence. Right now, a cloud rising from on Lake Biwa has come up obsecuring the Castle. As sushi has thoroughly melted into my body, so he himself merged into this vast landscape filled with splendor and he feel as if riding on the floating cloud and he’ve begun to wonder if it keeps sailing for Eternity."
 I know Kito ()
is acutely aware that Eternity is the very thing that Buson seeks.

 Strangely, every time I read the Haiku, I remember a well known haiku by
Shiki (子規) (1867-1902).
Shiki'’s haiku has subtle nuances of the Haiku. His favorite persimmons are equivalent to Buson’s crucian sushi and the tolls of the Horyuji Temple are psychologically equal to the drifting cloud floating towards Eternity.
 The haiku goes:

柿くえば 鐘がなるなり 法隆寺
(Kaki kue ba  kane ga naru nari  hyoryuuji)

Eating persimmons,
I hear
The toll of Horyuji.
         (Translated by hokuto77)

*Persimmons are Shiki’s favorites and Horyuji Temple is the start of Buddhism in Japan, now a World Heritage site.

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

Over night sushi
Too much mature;
The master grudges.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

9.一夜鮓 馴れて主の 遺恨哉
 (Ichiya zushi  nare te aruji no  ikon kana)

Season word: a sushi(),"a sushi" (summer)

 'Ichiya zushi'(
一夜鮓) is a sushi made overnight. The seasoning and making it properly mature overnight is no easy task. It often turns out a failure.
 Expectation must have been very high. But the result is so far from satisfactory that frustration, disappointment and regret and the like are far beyond simple complaints and finally they are condensed into
'grudge'. The master probably bore deep resentment against none other than himself.
 Here the unaffected and honest feelingis fermented into a haiku poem by the Poet, who always watches intently, with warm heart, as I have often mentioned, human daily activities. The Haiku implies how significant they are in
the realm of consciousness.

Early summer rain!
Faced with a big river,
Two houses stand.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

10. さみだれや 大河を前に 家二軒
    (Samidare ya  taiga wo mae ni  ie niken)

Season word: samidare(さみだれ),"early summer rain"(summer)
 Those who are interested in haiku will be reminded of the famous haiku by Basho:

Collecting all
The rains of May,
The swift Mogami River. 
      (Translated byR. H. Blyth)

さみだれを あつめて早し 最上川  - 芭蕉
(Samidare wo  atsume te hayashi  mogami gawa Basho)

 As everyone knows, Buson adored Basho(1644 - 1694). It may be undeniable that the Haiku by Basho influenced Buson somewhat in his creating this poem of his own. And it is uncertain whether a big river (大河) in the Haiku means the Mogami Riveror not. The two haiku poems are equally masterpieces and so famous as to have been interestingly criticized, on the comparison and contrast between them, from a wide perspective.
 The Haiku by the Poet has no apparent verb expression, but readers feel some moves in the background. The rain is falling heavily, and the river is rising as high as though to flood the houses. Today, the advice or warning to leave the area as soon as possible would be given to the two families.
 As Prof. Tsutomu Ogata and Mr. Takahashi comment on the Haiku,
we cannot help but worry about the family in the houses. Although not mentioned nor seen, people in the houses are imagined standing still or moving about in great fear. In this respect the Haiku refers to human action in the severe natural phenomenon. Mr. Takahashi says it's due to the dramatic element that the Poet's haiku has in it. His argument is persuasive enough. The doubt about why not more than three houses stand on the river is out of the question. 'Two houses' is the most minimum constituent unit of community, which, in the Haiku, has some psychological effect on readers' imagination. Here, the Poet appeals to the feeble existence as a human being. The focus of Basho's is on great Nature herself. Between these two poems we find such an essential difference of their viewpooints.

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

Early summer rain!
Each of terraced paddy fields
Now at the gathering darkness.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

11. さみだれや 田ごとの闇と 成りにけり
    (Samidare ya  togoto no yami to  narini keri)

Season word: samidare(さみだれ),"early summer rain"(summer)
 *'Tagoto'(田ごと) is each of many terraced paddy fields.  According to Prof. Tsutomu Ogata, 'Tagotono yami' (田ごとの闇) is a parody of the expression, 'Tagoto no tsuki'(田ごとの月),which translates as 'the moon reflected in each of many terraced paddy fields'. The Poet himself commented on the Haiku, in 'Shin Hana Tsumi'(新花摘), or literally 'the New Flower Picking'.
 It goes:
“The above Haiku was composed last summer but disregarded. It seems that Hyakuchi(百池), and Gekkyo(月居) omitted it even in their own diaries. I do not venture to say it’s an excellent one, but it contains some point I
can’t set aside. Finally I recorded it.
(Translated by hokuto77) 

 (Migino ku wa kyonen no natsu, iisute taru ku nari. Hyakuchi
, Gekkyo ga nikki nimo, kaki morashi taru beshi. Aete yok iku to yu niwa arane do, isasaka omo fushi sai areba, kaitsuke haberu nari.)

 As we’ve read,
the Poet’s comment in ‘Shin Hana Tsumi’ at first the Poet himself disregarded the Haiku and his two disciples did not so much as take it down in their diaries may be ascribed to the fact that they thought it a mere parody of another excellent haiku.  But I guess in the Poet’s mind
a simple parody has gradually matured into a creative element.If the element is made clear, the Haiku will get its own genuine artistic value.
The darkness in the Haiku can be considered not utter darkness of night but deepening dusk on a rainy evening. What impresses me is, the color tone of the rainy dusk is different from each other on the surface of paddy fields. I suppose this is one of the key points of the Haiku. The Poet, a superb painter, clearly discriminated the deepening delicate tone varies its darkness in each of terraced paddy fields, just as he enjoyed the moon mirrored differently in each of many terraced paddy fields.
 The Poet seemed to care about the viewpoint as a painter. Early summer rain, the landscape of many terraced paddy fields, and evening dusk changing into utter darkness of night,
when the three factors intertwine, they will stir up a strong nostalgia for deep sentiment as a human being, that is, for the basis of human existence. This is another key point of the Haiku. The Poet seemed to value the mutual relationship and interaction between man and
Nature. I guess the two points are the grounds the Poet couldn’t discard the Haiku.

Leaving out Mt.Fuji,
Young leaves
Covered all!
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

12.不二ひとつ うづみこのして 若葉哉
   (Fuji hitotsu  uzumi nokoshite  wakaba kana)

Season word: wakaba(若葉),"young leaves" , "young foliage" (summer)
不二) is Fujisan(富士山), Mt.Fuji. It seems that
the Poet liked to express Mt. Fuji in this written form '不二', instead of '富士'.
The season comes round and naked trees come into leaves and young ones gradually grow thick and rich in green. One day suddenly,
the Poet finds everything seasonally attired in green foliage as though buried under it. Though young leaves have grown lush with irresistible force, there is one thing remains unburied, unconquered. That’s the snow-clad summit of Mt. Fuji rising high into the blue. The figure looks graceful and aloof from others.
We should notice that the Poet skillfully personified young foliage as independently acting human beings. With young leaves as a subject, he used a ‘transitive verb’, uzumi nokosu, ‘did not cover, let it uncovered’. It’s a highly effective way of conferring on the Haiku a sense of energy and gravity.
Thus the Haiku was created expressing a magnificent view of nature. Against Mt. Fuji as background, young leaves in the foreground stretch as far as the eye can reach. On our reading the Haiku, young leaves stand out in stark relief against Mt Fuji in our minds, with their respective powerful presences well-balanced on canvas.
If we contrast the uncertainty of young leaves
against the immobility or absolute existence of
Mt. Fuji, we will discover there a lively picture of human life itself. It's all due to the skill of the Poet as a painter of a rare kind with lofty poetic sentiment.

Mornig breeze
has calmed
Cormorant fishing-river.

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

13.朝風の 吹きさましたる 鵜河哉
   (Asa kaze no  fuki samashi taru  ukawa kana)

Season word
ukwa(鵜河),"cormorant fishing-river"(summer)

*The river Ukawa is a river where people fish with cormorants. They fish with cormorants from evening toward daybreak. Fishermen and spectators, if any, are all excited and both in the river and on the banks the heated atmosphere of fishing lasts for many hours on end.
*About the Haiku
the Poet proudly wrote to his disciple, ‘Kitou’(几董). It goes: “The Haiku reads like that of Bakurin’s (麦林). But I’m convinced it's a firm and reliable one and that it is an excellent haiku.    (Translated by hokuto77)
         (Kore wa bakurin  kusaku sorae domo, tashikana mono nite  ikku nite soro.)
*‘Bakurin kusai haiku’(麦林臭い俳句) in the time when Buson lived are those that are very common and vulgar without true poetic sentiments. In brief, they are trite haiku, nothing but explanatory expressions or commonplace sketches of scenes or events.
*To widen the subject, please let me introduce a haiku by Basho. It is:

おもしろうて やがて悲しき 鵜舟哉
 (Omoshiro te yaga te kana shiki ubune kana)

How exciting, the cormorant fishing-boat!
But after a time,
I felt sadness.     (Translated by R. H. Blyth)

(1) The first rain of winter:
The monkey also seems to want
A straw coat.
 初時雨 猿も小みのを ほしげなり
 (Hatsu shigure  saru mo komino wo hoshige nari)

 Blyth says critics are of opinion that Basho is recording the reaction he felt after the boats had passed by and all the excitement was over, and that the truth is, the verse, though undoubtedly interesting, is not great poetry at all. However, Blyth himself thinks Basho’s humanitarian feelings were stirred. As an indirect evidence of such feelings of his, he quotes seven haiku of Basho, three of which go:

(2) A poor lodging:
The whimpering of the dog
In the rain at night.
  草枕 犬もしぐるるか 夜の声
   (Kusa makura inu mo shigu ruru ka yoru no ame)

(3) A nice house:
The sparrows are happy at the millet
In the field at the back.
     よき家や 雀よろこぶ 背戸の粟
(Yoki ie ya suzume yorokobu sedo no awa)

*When the Poet composed the Haiku, as critics say, he must have had in his mind the haiku of Basho.

 Nature, in a concrete form of morning breeze, cleanses and refreshes sinful human activities, though for existence. So impressive is the sharp contrast between the wild excitement of cormorant fishing and the calm, serene atmosphere brought by the wind over the morning river. Some may take the atmosphere for a sort of sadness without much hope after wild pleasure, and others for refreshing start.
 As above mentioned,
the Poet wrote to Kito(几董) that the Haiku is a definite one. Here let’s just think about where is the reliability of the Haiku. It may mean that,from the Poet’s view of haiku, it has accomplished the breakaway from common place and vulgarity . Thus, I’m convinced that the point of the Haiku lies where the theme of life and death is clearly pursued and composed through common materialsthe latter as‘cormorant fishing river,’ and the former as ‘morning breeze.

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

On holiday
In a village with a cock-a-doodle-doo
A thicket of trees is in full summer foliage.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

 (Yasumibi ya tori naku mura no natsu kodachi)

Season word : natsu kodachi(夏木立), “a thicket of trees in full summer foliage”(summer)

 Quietude is prevalent all over the village. What are people doing? It’s certain they are off duty. They make no noise whatever on holiday. Suddenly the thicket of trees which
the Poet is walking through changes into a resonance box by a crow of a cock. It doesn't peal out but sounds pleasant in a relaxing ambience on a day off. Except on holiday, people are very active, making some noise whether in a large village or in a small one. The Poet greatly misses men’s daily busy activities, while he enjoys a calm and peaceful village scene where he happens to be passing.

15. From nowhere
Stone was thrown into a thick of trees
In full summer foliage.

(Izuko yori tsubute uchi kemu natsu kodachi)
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

Season word:
natsu kodachi(夏木立), “a thicket of trees in full summer foliage”(summer)
The key of the Haiku is the sound made by a stone thrown into the thicket where 
the Poet is passing. The thicket is deep and quiet, before the time of cicadas singing. The sound may amaze you, and surely it vibrates the summer thicket. The reason is not clear to him for which the stone was thrown into the thicket. I am rather interested in the sudden sound in thicket rather than the fact that a stone was thrown in on purpose.
 Academic critics say
in the Haiku the stillness of the summer thicket is made clear and emphasized in contrast with the sudden surprising sound. Some may be in favor of the effect of the unexpected sound on the quiet atmosphere, resulting in causing uneasy, shuddering sense of fear. But I think the two impressions should not be accepted apart.They are inseparably related to each other. First the quiet does come. Then a dreadful imagination based on it. Anyway, though unseen, the person is my interest, who concerns himself about a thicket of trees in full summer foliage and throws a stone into it, just like a kid does a stone into a still pond and enjoys waves rippling out in all directions. It's probable that the person is a kid or a grown-up of some poetic sense.

Ten horses, swinging loads of sake,
Pass by a thicket of trees
In full summer foliage.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

16. 酒十駄ゆりもて行くや夏木立
   (Sake jyu da yuri mote yuku ya natsu kodachi)

Season words:
natsu kodachi(夏木立), “a thicket of trees in full summer foliage”(summer)
十駄(jyu da), or ’ten da’ is loads of sake carried by ten horses.
* ( ichi da) is two barrels of 4 ‘to’() carried by a horse. One’to’is about 18.04 liter. In the Haiku, one horse is carrying about 144 liters of sake.
The word ‘Yuri’(ゆり) means the action of swinging something.
‘Yuri mote iku’is to go forward swinging something, not always intentionally.
 Ten horses pass through summer thickets, carrying 2 barrels of 4 ‘to’on the Horseback respectively. The shake in the swinging barrels make sounds, which develop into a resonance. The Poet may be at least as near the horses as he can see swings of barrels and read letters Sake() on them.
Mr. Takahashi says any reader can imagine sounds made by swings of 20 barrels, though not expressed in the Haiku, except ‘yuri’(ゆり).  Prof. Tsutomu Ogata makes an additional comment that whoever likes drinking cannot but help be much attracted to the sake in the barrels.
  It’s natural that in the Haiku low deep sounds made by the swinging of sake loads be focused. In the era when the Poet (1716-1784) lived people hadless noises in the rural districts; no automobiles, or bicycles, or other noisy vehicles running on the roads. Ten horses passing by, with heavy sake loads on, must have been a big event making big sounds. As Mr. Takahashi says,
there is nothing expressed in words but horses, barrels and thicket of summer full foliage.
 The smell of sake, the hot breath road-horse men let outz and their horses themselves are buried between the lines, but the passing and the sound give us a sense of energy.
 On reading the Haiku first, I wondered where they were carrying so many loads of sake barrels. To the castle, or sake wholesalers, or wealthy farmers or merchants? It's all because I enjoy 'beer and shochu' regularly. Anyway, the sake on the horsebacks is beyond the reach of common people and they couldn’t so much as tap the barrel.

Fox stole boiled rice,
People chased him to strike;
The time of barley harvest.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

17.飯盗む 狐追ひうつ 麦の秋
  (Meshi nusumu kitsune oi utsu mugi no aki)

Season words:
mugi no aki(麦の秋), “the time of barley harvest”(summer)

In any harvest time, as nowadays, farmers used to be so busy that all the members of a family worked together in the fields to do the task efficiently. The family had brought the boiled rice for lunch. A fox is so cunning that he takes the rice by ambush while people are absorbed in harvesting. Suddenly on the part of the family, there arises a mad rush to the fox running away.The Poet is attracted to the unexpected, vivid scene of a harvest time that is completed only by both man and animal. The scene brings about a touch of humor and pathos.

In the roadside shrine
A person lies dead;
The time of barley harvest.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

18.辻堂に 死せる人あり 麦の秋
  (Tsujido ni shiseru hito ari mugino aki)

Season words: mugi no aki(麦の秋), “the time of barley harvest(summer)
Mr. Takahashi and Prof. Ogata comment, our first reading makes the Haiku face us with the sadly sharp contrast between active life and solitary death.
Today, first of all, they would suppose the person to be a murder victim. The dead body may be a traveler, who collapsed on the road and barely entered the roadside shrine, only to breathe his last there. The villagers are busy harvesting barley. They have no time to notice a person dead in the nearby shrine.The beauties of nature are not woven in the Haiku, and human affairs are expressed plain and simple to everyone. As we read again and again, we realize what the Haiku strikes our chords is very powerful with its deep meaning. I think it’s all due to the straightforwardness of life and death.


             Tragedy or Hope I

  This is a weighty matter in my personal life. My mother, 100 years old, is heavily dependent on my care for her physical and mental existence.  One day, a tragedy occurred, which was too serious to me. A cancer, though in its early stages, was detected in my sigmoid colon. It was detected by chance. Some said it’s early and in a sense I’m lucky, as if to say it’s out of the question. However, thankfully I accepted them words of encouragement to me. The doctors said mine lives in the recesses of the corner where it’s very tough to remove it completely by endoscopic surgery. But they did me their best.
 What discouraged me most is that all was in vain, though I’ve tried my best to prevent a cancer for my beloved family and Buson. Doctors say the cause is not clear. I felt the futility of my future life. Finally, I revealed to my family, including mother, that I’ve got a cancer. Buson died at 68, in 1783. I’m now 70 in 2009. But my desire is to survive for his Haiku and for my family, fighting against the cancer. But I waver in it every day.

 According to my good friend in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, some scholars of University of Tokyo,
Yuji Genda and Shigeki Uno and others planed to undertake the scientific research on hope, ‘ Hope Studies’, ‘Kibogaku’ in 2005 and since then it’s been getting more and more active and its future is very bright. He is favorably impressed with the new movement and really admires it. I hope it’ll be fruitful. He told me ‘hope’ is defined as ‘a wish for something to come true’ and that the new branch of science, Hope Studies, is officially designated ‘Social Sciences of Hope’. Surely, this English expression is clear and easily comprehensible to laymen. He said, Hope will be researched from diverse viewpoints of politics, economics, psychology, philosophy, sociology, anthropology and other fields, and especially about its relationship with society.
 Essentially hope is a personal matter, varying individually. It's self evident that one cannot live without hope. Even a person in adversity won’t give up hope, while his hopes are open to changes according to where he lives or works. Men have survived by leaving it up to the next generation to realize their hopes for the future. Basho and Buson read their hopes into their swansong, death-verse. They go:

Ill on a journey;
My dreams wander
Over a withered moor.
(Basho)   (Translated by R.H. Blyth)
 *Blyth says this verse has ---, finality without despair, truth without ornament.

Every night from now
Will dawn
From the white plum-tree.
(Buson) (Translated by R.H. Blyth)
  *Blyth says the emphasis on the night brings out the power of the glimmering white flowers; however many times darkness covers the earth, and thick darkness the people, they have the power to bring back the dawn again.

Men are social beings. Hopes among people react to each other. Organizations, communities, nations have their own hopes and sometimes they are integrated. Each society, large or small, directly or indirectly, affects a personal hope. The latest example goes; Hopes for Change, linked and united, brought forth the Obama presidency, which is, for now, favorably accepted around the world. The dynamics of hopes in relation to society may be worthy of scientific studies by professionals.

*To Tragedy or Hope II

Wheat harvest season; 
What surprised
Hens on the roof?

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

19.麦秋や 何におどろく 屋ねの鶏
   (Mugi aki ya nani ni odoroku yane no tori)

Season word: mugiaki(麦秋), “wheat harvest season(summer)
 *Autumn is generally linked to the time of crop harvest in association with it. Even a harvest in summer season has come to be called ‘autumnal’ harvest. It can be a quite natural process of linguistic association.
*It’s no wonder that hens be on a roof of a farm house, seeing that hens used to be left at large, kept as yard fowls, unlike today’s poultry farming. Needless to say, their eggs and chickens were healty diets and hens were also man’s valuable companions, just like family members.
 All the villagers are out in the fields to harvest wheat. None living are left there but hens. Nothing strange will happen to astonish them, but they are reacting very quickly to even an imperceptible change occurring around them.
 On first reading, the impression made on most readers may not be remarkable, and rather trite. But we'd better admit that readers feel the acute sensitivity of the Poet, who composed a heartwarming poem out of a scene of a temporary deserted farm village.

Double mosquito net, 
The moon is shining through,
Elder brothers watching.

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

20. ふたり寝の 蚊屋もる月の せうと達
     (Futarine no kaya moru tsuki no seuto tachi)

Season word: kaya(蚊屋), “mosquito net”(summer)
*The Haiku has a short preface, which runs: 逢不逢恋(あひてあわざるこい), (Ai te awa zaru koi). The preface literally means that
they were, virtually, unable to meet though they met.They couldn't have sex fully.
せうと) is a common name for husband’s elder brother.
*The word ‘もる’ (moru) is a Japanese pun with two meanings; one is 漏る, which means to break through, come through and the other is 守る, which means to guard, watch.
 Although in amour bed enclosed by a double mosquito net, a young married couple is ill at ease. They two, though alone in the net, do not even feel they are
in amour bed. The Moon shines through the net and the Goddess looks like a guard of the young couple, but things are not going as well as imaginarily expected.Husband’s elder brothers are admiringly looking up at the Moon and curiously now and then watching the lusty net where the married couple lies;the couple guesses so apprehensively, which is implied.
 Judging from ukiyo-es, in the Edo period (1603-1868), love affairs may have been done in a relaxed and placid manner, among common people, though they were generally badly off. As Mr. Takahashi comments, the amour bed for the lawful couple was regarded an untouchable place, or a sort of sanctuary. In other words, their love scenes should not be disturbed, while common people were not as particular about the protection of privacy as today. The Poet uses gentle humor and shows us such an example of humane relationship as is very tough for us to form today.

Next door neighbors
Smudge to each other.
       smudge       Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

21. 腹あしき 隣同士の かやりかな
  (Hara ashiki tonari doshi no kayari kana)

Season word: kayari(かやり), “smudge; light a smudge fire(summer)
*Hara ashiki(腹あしき) means to be quick-tempered, but not ill-natured.
*Tonari doshi(隣同士) are people living next door to each other, or next door neighbors.
 Next door neighbors used to be as intimate and as reliable as though members of their own family. Especially in the Edo period (1603-1868), this point of view was universally acknowledged. In the Haiku, both must be good friends and neighbors to each other but they are, I guess, too quick-tempered. Prof. Ogata says they may be slow speakers or men of few words.
Though knowing well their common enemies are mosquitoes, not the other, the two in the Haiku light a smudge fire to each other in order to make the other
to squat in the smoke of a smudge against mosquitoes.
From a diferent viewpoint, it’s a fierce smudge battle against the short temper without quarreling. But it does not follow that they are on different wavelengths. The scene could only be seen among common people. As I’ve often said in my impressions, the Poet never failed to catch such a suitable scene for haiku as this. The expression, well read, would lead you to a good laugh.

Sitting at the edge of the house
To escape from the family: ━
What a summer heat!
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

22. 端居して 妻子を避る 暑かな
    (Hashii shite saishi wo sakuru atsusa kana)

Season word: atsusa(), “the summer heat; a heat wave”(summer)
 * Hashii(端居) is to take one’s seat at some edge of the house, like sitting or lying at the edge of an
‘engawa’, or on the veranda, especially on a summer evening, desperately to seek the cool air.
‘Engawa’ is the external corridor with a boarded floor, and usually with sliding glass doors, running along the outer side of a traditional Japanese house.
 *Saishi(妻子) is his wife and children, or his family.
 He is tired of the summer heat and noises of his wife and children’s making. Having a bit of guilty feeling, he leaves away from the hot family to the external corridor for the cool open air. His excuse for such an unmanly selfish behavior may be that the summer heat excels his love for family in the extent. It's here that extremely we feel warmhearted humor in the Haiku.
 As for humor, I can have another viewpoint. If ‘
the escape from the family for the cool’ in the Haiku can be interpreted as 'consideration for the more relax of his family', there will be another warm sentiment tasted humorously.

Peasants work
Body and soul;
The summer heat!

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

23. 百姓の 生キてはたらく 暑かな
    (Hyakusho no ikite hataraku atsusa kana)

Season word: atsusa(暑さ), “the summer heat; a heat wave(summer)
  The point is, farmers worked sincenrely, body and soul, even in the blazing sun. But a tragedy of their lives was, they were mercilessly exploited by their monarch. The Poet felt hearty love and sympathy for laboring peasants. But it is not clear whether he was conscious of the unfair exploitation of them. It must be compared with the modern life style. Busy and wearied as we are, we do not have to sweat as much as farmers did in the Edo period (1603-1868). Some say that even in modern times people are forced to sweat for the monarch called
‘democratic government'. But we can rebel against our monarch, if we have enough courage to speak out and act, especially in election. As well known, in the Edo period, a rebellion against their rulers meant death, hardly with any exception.
The Haiku can be read a humorous one, if we image the farmer as one who worked desperately with jest and gusto in the burning sun, getting angry at the heat and finally defying it without thinking of any other things at all. The viewpoint is hinted by Mr. Takahashi.

In a boat that grounded
Taking a nap;
The summer heat!
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

24. 居りたる 舟に寝て居る 暑哉
    (Suwari taru fune ni nete iru atsusa kana)

Season word: atsusa(暑さ), “the summer heat, a heat wave(summer)
 We wonder why he is in such a hot sun. The situation in the Haiku is hard to deal with and nothing can be done till the tide is in. In a sense, the boatman or a passenger is in a sulk in bed. The key of the Haiku lies in a sympathy-arising point that the boatman cannot help but stay on board in spite of scorching summer heat like that, where some readers may appreciate the humor, as Mr. Takahashi suggests.
 Here just a little digression. I’ll introduce another humorous expression about the summer heat. It’s a strikingly hyperbolic joke full of wit, but not a poem. You will notice a radical difference between the two. It is quoted from A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith by his daughter, Lady Holland, with a Selection from his Letters’. It goes:

"Nothing amuses me more than to observe the utter want of perception of a joke in some minds. Mrs. Jackson called the other day, and spoke of the oppressive heat of last week. Heat, ma’am! I said; it was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones. Take off your flesh and sit in your bones, sir! Oh, Mr. Smith! how could you do that? She exclaimed, with the utmost gravity. Nothing more easy, ma’am; come and see next time. But she ordered her carriage, and evidently thought it a very unorthodox proceeding."  (Chapter IX)
 <Notes by hokuto77 for Japanese high school students>
 unorthodox=contrary to what is usual, traditional, or accepted(COD)
=a piece of conduct or behavior(OED)

 Sydney Smith (1771-1845) was an English clergyman noted as the wittiest man of his time. He was educated at Winchester and Oxford, ‘---’ As a clergyman he was kindly and philanthropic, a good preacher, and a hater of mysticism.No political writing of his time was more telling than his on the side of toleration and reform;and his wit, while spontaneous and exuberant, was employed in the service of good sense andwith careful consideration for the feelings of others. If he lacks the terrific power of Swift, helacks also his bitterness and savagery; his honesty and sincerity were no less, and his personality was as winning as it was amusing. 
                 (Extracted from Internet History Sourcebooks Project by Fordham University)

<Notes by hokuto77 on the above extraction for Japanese high school students>
philanthropic <
philanthropy=the practice of helping the poor and those in need, especially by giving money       hater<hate
mysticism =the belief that knowledge of God and of real truth can be found through prayer and meditation rather than through reason
    and the senses  
  telling =effective, striking       side=an aspect or view of something immaterial
toleration =a willingness to allow something that you don’t like or agree with to happen or continue; the allowing of differences in
   religious opinion without discrimination
          exuberant =full of energy, excitement and happiness
his bitterness  i.e.  (Jonathan) Swift’s bitterness [Jonathan Swift is well known for his Gulliver’s Travels.]        terrific =of great size
his honesty and sincerity were no less, and ---  i.e. he possessed honesty and sincerity, and ---
winning=attractive in a way that makes other people like you
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

How cool!
A nobleman
Wades a stream.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

25. 涼しさしや かしこき人の 歩行渉り
    (Suzushisa ya kashikoki hito no kachi watari)

Season word: suzushisa(涼しさ), “cool(summer)
    *Kashikoki hito(かしこき人) is a man of high rank, or a nobleman.
    * Kachi watari(歩行渉り) is to wade across a stream (on foot).
 The scene presents a refreshing sensation to those who happen to see it; a man of high rank, tucking up a hem, is passing over a shallow stream on foot. Safely it can be done at this season of the year. If a man who is in the running water is a common person, it’s doubtful whether the Poet will feel the same sort of coolness. The uncommon scene of behavior gives him a delightful surprise, which brings him fresh feelings of the heart.
 Mr. Takahashi says, the Poet accepted a class system natural and difference in social standing did not affect much his poetical emotion, where high and low, rich and poor were of like existence. To accept things as they are is the soul of his haiku.

When it leaves the bell

The voice of the bell.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

26. すヾしさや 鐘を離るゝ 鐘の声
     (Suzushisa ya kane wo hanaruru kane no koe)

Season word
: suzushisa(すヾしさ), “ cool, coolness(summer)
 The Poet wrote to three haiku poets, commenting the Haiku. The summary goes:
           (Migi wa toji ryuko no shirabe nite wa kore naku soro. Ryuko no numeri mo itowashiku soro.)
            The above-mentioned Haiku is far from today’s vogue for haiku, (which is the mere description
       of scenery). I quite disagree even with the prevalence of the style, on which is based a trite haiku.

                                            (Translated by hokuto77.)

 On first reading, quite a few Japanese people will be refreshed even if they do not know the hour that the Haiku refers to. I can't see obvious reasons for this, but I feel the freshness of the expression. It's probably not due to the Poet’s artifice, or technical skill, but to his creation of a cool situation by alliteration and arranging the very same words in a row.
 When we say kane() no ‘koe’(), it has a tone somewhat personified. But kane no ‘oto’ has, I think, no such animated tone in it. It seems to me that the Poet expressed kane no ‘koe’, instead of ‘oto’, so that he could make us feel the sound itself leave the bell spontaneously and through this the desired effect could be enforced on our psychological sound memories of a bell. In this way, producing coolness when it leaves the bell and carrying it in the air, the voice of a bell penetrates into morning, into villages, fields, everywhere and finally deep into human hearts, never to return to where it has started.
 I believe the artistic point is, the coolness in the Haiku is not only condensed but also enlarged at the same time. This is where the Haiku is far above the mere description of scenery. The Haiku has another season word before the Poet decided his final choice of diction,
'coolness'. It goes:

Short night
When it leaves the bell

The voice of the bell.
 From the first five words, short night, it is clear, as Prof. Ogata tells us, the time of the Haiku is one summer morning, not evening.

Please allow me to introduce you to an interesting contrast between
Buson’s haiku and English poems in epic style. I quote a few lines from ‘The Scholar- Gipsy’ by Matthew Arnold and Paradise Lost by John Milton. To me it seems that the atmosphere of the lines does not arouse a desperate humor but a calm and sober state of mind in a cool place, surrounded with the summer heat. The difference is an essential one between the meditative English poetry and Buson’s haiku based on a sense of humor in daily lives. The lines from The Scholar- Gipsy’ go:

                                    “---”                            1-65
        Or in my boat I lie                                             66
       Moor'd to the cool bank in the summer-heats,
       'Mid wide grass meadows which the sunshine fills, 
       And watch the warm, green-muffled Cumner hills,
       And wonder if thou haunt'st their shy retreats.           70
Notes by hokuto77:
 Matthew Arnold (24 December 1822 – 15 April 1888) was an English
 poet, and cultural critic who worked as an inspector of schools. “---”. The mood of Arnold’s poetry tends to be of plaintive reflection, and he is restrained in expressing emotion. He felt that poetry should be the ‘criticism of life’ and express a philosophy. Arnold’s philosophy is that true happiness comes from within, and that people should seek within themselves for good, while being resigned in acceptance of outward things and avoiding the pointless turmoil of the world. However, he argues that we should not live in the belief that we shall one day inherit eternal bliss. If we are not happy on earth, we should moderate our desires rather than live in dreams of something that may never be attained. “---”.                       (Quoted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

 The Cumnor Hills, which were coral reefs, are located along the Thames, across which Oxford faces the Hills. In the 1840s Matthew Arnold walked there with his friend and two of his poems are set there. One is “The Scholar Gipsy”.
 (Extracted from Dick Sullivan’s “The Victorian Web”)
                     moor’d<moor=make fast a boat by attaching a cable to a fixed object
            ‘mid<amid=surrounded by something          green-muffled=covered with green
haunt=go to habitually, frequent
                  retreat(n)=a quiet, private place that you go to in order to get away from your usual life

The lines from ‘Paradise Lost IX 1108~10’ go:
                     There oft the Indian herdsman shunning heat
                     Shelters in cool, and tends his pasturing herds
                     At loopholes cut through thickest shade:
   <Notes by hokuto77 for Japanese high school students>
                     herdsman=a man whose job it to take care of a group of animals, such as cows
                     shun=avoid, keep clear of
                     shelter(v)=stay in a place that protects you from the weather or from danger
                     tend=take care of, look after           pasture=eat growing grass
                     loophole=a *similar opening to look through, or for the admission of light and air
                          (OED quotes this passage)
               *similar opening=a narrow vertical opening cut in a wall or other defence

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

27. He gave me ‘ayu fish’,
Directly leaving

The midnight gate.

鮎くれて よらで過行 夜半の門
(Ayu kure te yorade sugi yuku
yawa no kado)

wild ayu fish

fishing for ayu in a river with his dog

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS
Season word: ayu(), “ ayu fish”, fresh river ayu(summer)
 There was probably no expectation of being given ayu fish by ‘him’. It was too late, near midnight but friendship did not 'go to bed'. He presented what he had caught at night in a river and refused to visit the home, going away into midnight, but there was left silent warm relationship in the dark. There were no economic motives to the behavior. I’m afraid that the warmness which lingers in the Haiku may not be as common today as in the Edo period (1603-1868). As Mr. Takahashi hints, the Haiku has a strong visual effect on readers. The concrete words are a major factor; 'ayu fish' , 'midnight’s gate', and 'gave and left'. We are, in spite of ourselves, led into a scene of our daily lives and have clear images of them in our minds.

Suffering sorrow,
I climbed up the hill;

There thorns blooming white.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS
28. 愁ひつゝ 岡にのぼれば 花いばら
    (Urei tsutsu oka ni nobore ba hana ibara)
Season word:
hanaibara(花いばら),“ white flowers of thorns”(summer)
 The first time I read the Haiku when young, I perceived it is greatly refined and full of lyricism. I thought it an unbelievably modern expression, and mistakenly believed the Haiku must have been composed long after the end of the Edo period (1603-1868). But I got to know the assumption is quite out of focus. The Poet produced it at 59 in 1774.
 Some academic critics say the thorns must have reminded him of his infancy. It is almost certain that as a boy, the Poet would often see white flowers of thorns in his home village. Quite naturally what happened was that he was reminded of his infancy on seeing so many white thorns up on the hill. If he had spent a happy infancy, he would have felt much relieved to see them. Even if not, the pure whiteness would have eased off his grief.
The season word plays such a weighty role in the Haiku.
Anyway, what was it that the Poet feit sorrowful
for? What did white blooms of thorns stand for in his mind? These questions have yet to be answered by myself. If possible, it will take me how many years God knows.
   (Taken by nobu)

In his loincloth
Bears a round fan
The household head.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

29. 褌に 団さしたる 亭主かな
      (Fundoshi ni uchiwa sashitaru teishu kana)

Season word: uchiwa(),” a round fan made of paper(summer)
 However poor it was, every family kept
‘patriarchy’ in the Edo period (1603-1868). It means that the household head, Father or Husband, ruled his family and bore the responsibility of its security and welfare. Naturally he was accompanied by dignity.
 Summer heat deprives the household head of his dignity. It's so hot that he's scantily clad only in a loincloth, without being shamefaced. It's disapproval, but here I feel the common-man quality of the Poet strongly appeal to human nature. The scene may not be refined but very humane and full of humor, where haiku poetry can be considered to partake of its origin.

Melon, even in my own field,
I pick as softly
As if to steal it.

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

30. 我園の 真桑も盗む こゝろ哉
     (Waga sono no makuwa mo nusumu kokoro kana)

Season word
: makuwa(真桑), (Oriental) melon (summer)
A cooled melon tastes very sweet. In the Edo period (1603-1868), melons were very valuable, and the price was very high.

 It is doubtful whether the Poet himself grew ‘Oriental Melon’ or not. But we can feel reality in the Haiku.  Great care has been taken of melons in
his own field. It gives him some psychological pain to pick melons of his own growing. The attachment to them is as deep as melons themselves precious. Great endearment, the value of one's own working was the gem of common people in olden times, which idea I do hope will be succeeded to future generations for good.

 A Useful glimpse into a Tanka Poem

 ひらたん, my friend in Iwakuni City suggested I translate a tanka poem composed by Yoshida Shoin into English. As you know, the history of tanka peoms is far longer than that of haiku. Compared with haiku, tanka generally expresses straight what tanka poets feel, subtleties of emotions. To learn the subtle differences between the artistic functions of both haiku and tanka will surely be of great help to us. The English translation that I emailed to ひらたん last year, in 2009 goes:

  A tanka poem of Yoshida Shoin

 While being sent to a prison in Edo (present-day Tokyo) under guard, as one of the most dangerous insurgents of
Choshu Domain, Yoshida Shoin composed a tanka poem in crossing the Ozegawa River, the provincial border between Aki(present-day Hiroshima Prefecture) and Suo(present-day Yamasguchi Prefecture). You will see the Monument inscribed with his tanka on the Ozegawa riverbank.

   It goes:

              夢路にも、かへらぬ関を 打ち越えて

                    (Yumeji nimo kaeranu seki wo uchi koete
                              Ima wo kagiri to wataru ozegawa)

Even in my dream,

Never shall I return to the Pass

That did I come over;

Now this is the very last

I cross the Ozegawa River.

Notes (by Hokuto 77):
 (1) The Ozegawa River, rising in Mt. Onigashiro(鬼ヶ城山 ) in Hiroshima Prefecture, flows as the Hiroshima-Yamaguchi prefectural border. In the Edo Period(1603-1868), too, the river played the part of the border between Aki(安芸), present-day Hiroshima Prefecture) and Suo(周防, present-day Yamaguchi Prefecture) provinces.

 (2) Seki() in the tanka means the Oze Pass, not a barrier station.

 (3)Yoshida Shōin (吉田 松陰, 20.09.1830-21.11.1859) was one of the most distinguished intellectuals in the closing days of the Tokugawa shogunate. He devoted to developing many Ishin Shishi who made an outstanding contribution to the Meiji Restoration. Born in Choshu Domain to a samurai family, at age five this child prodigy began to study tactics, at age eight he attended college, at age nine he taught in college, and at age ten he impressed the Mori daimyo family with a military lecture he had delivered. “---” When it was Yoshida's turn, he was composed - his executioner said he died a noble death. He was 29 years old.                  (From Wikipedia free encyclopedia)
    *Shoin was one of the victims beheaded in the Ansei Purge (in 1858 and 1859), which was carried out
   by Ii Naosuke(井伊直弼)

(4) Self-praise (by Hokuto77):
 ‘I’ is used three times in the short tanka poem, my intention is to stress his resignation, or readiness to die he cherished in producing the tanka poem, and ‘Now’ may sound redundant or predictable. In my
private dictionary, ‘Now’ indicates that it can’t be helped. I feel sorry for offending your ears by three ‘Is and Now.’               (January 29, 2010)
     *When it comes to a portrait, that of Yoshida Shoin has some versions but strangely each of them has,
      if any, very little common trait.

Peonies fallen
Piled on top of one another,
Two or three petals.

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

31.牡丹散りて 打ちかさなりぬ 二三片
   (Botan chiri te uchi kasanari nu nisan pen)

Season word: botan(牡丹), “peony” (summer)
  The Poet wrote to his follower, Kito(), that the Haiku is based on the fairness of peonies at their best and he saw a few faded petals fallen and scattered. He said that intentionally he expressed them piled on top of one another and that the expression ‘two or three’ was
rigid expression and was suitable for the daintiness of peony.
The Haiku is very popular. Mr. Takahashi says there have been a lot of comments made since it was created.
I myself feel the Poet’s strong empathy with full blossomed peonies. By modifying the real situation of scattered petals into an intentional and accordingly artistic one of the piled petals, he eased the grief in fallen petals and laid emphasis on his fondness to them.

The silence
During a gap in visitors
The peonies shine.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

32.寂として 客の絶間の ぼたん哉
    (Seki to shite kyaku no taema no botan kana)

Season word: botan(牡丹), “peony” (summer)

The Poet created about twenty seven haikus of peonies, while Basho, according to Mr. Takahashi, left no more than three haikus about them. The difference of the number shows the Poet exceedingly loved the peony and sympathized with its magnificent and dazzling color that might appeal to his aesthetic sense as a painter.
 How silent the peonies in the vase! How dear they look! The silence and loveliness is all the more conspicuous because of the stoppage of visitors. He is sure the
flowers have been expecting the time. We can vividly image them at their best in the vase in the short-lived silence of the room and
the attention span is the more priceless because it is supposed to be very short.

All fallen,
Yet the vision appears to me
The peony!
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

33.ちりて後 おもかげにたつ ぼたん哉
    (Chirite nochi  omokage ni tatsu  botan  kana)

Season word: botan(牡丹), “peony” (summer)

 The late Professor Tsutomu Ogata commented that the Poet greatly misses the peony, of which the image is all the clearer in his mind’s eye because of its completely having passed away. (Translated by hokuto77)

The Poet saw peonies from a painter's viewpoint, and let them closely connected with human lives in a delicate way. The flower's beauty is expressed variously in twenty eight haiku.
Mr. Takahash says the Haiku is as fairly good as No. 46. I think the Haiku is very simple and easy to grasp what it means and yet it fires our imagination. The blooms were so impressive and moving that after all the petals were fallen and completely ceased to exist, they still charmed him as if at their best. Strangely, the Haiku reads to me as though he personified the peony. I wonder if he felt as though he had his beloved wife die, both in love with each other.

 Readers, as with ‘spring rain’ (to Spring No.46B ) of Buson, here you have unexpectedly another welcome addition, which is presented in the season word peony’ of Buson. Vox Populi, Vox Dei in the Asahi Shimbun English Website edition has led me to the superb essay and the translation on "floral beauties".  The part concerning Buson and peony goes:

 By the time spring is nearly over, it's peony season.


   But nothing takes one's breath away more than the stunning beauty of peony blossoms at the height of their glory. These are rightfully called the "king of flowers" for their dignity and opulence.
 Poet Rigen Kinoshita (1886-1925) captured the beauty of peonies whose perfection seemed frozen in time: "The peonies have bloomed, and now they are still. They know exactly where to stand." The white and pink peonies were simply gorgeous, but there were also dark purple ones that had an appealing air of mystery about them. They suggested some unfathomable depth of their own as they reflected the sun's rays.
Tang Emperor Xuanzong (685-762) was said to have likened his beloved consort, Yang Guifei, to a blooming peony. One could perhaps call peony a "flower of the most beautiful woman in the land."
 A haiku by Yosa Buson (1716-1783) goes:

"After the bloom ended
 I could still see the peony in my mind's eye

I wonder if the peony he referred to was actually a person.

                         [The Asahi Shimbun, May 10 (2010)] (Italics and colored by hokuto77)

    [Notes for Japanese high school students by hokuto77]
stunning=extremely attractive                 *opulence=wealth, riches (in qualities)
unfathomable=incapable of being measured; vast    *consort=the wife of a ruler

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

After taking a bath,
Away from the smudge
Rests Household head.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

34.浴みして 蚊やりに遠き あるじ哉
   (Yuami shite kayari ni tooki aruji kana)

Season word: kayari(蚊やり), “smudge” (summer)
蚊やり) in Japan meant dense smoke, usually made to drive mosquitoes away by smoke. Today,      usually we burn mosquito-repellent incense
or use a spray can, out of which liquid is forced out in a very     small drops and spreads in the air or the room to kill them.
Family members are eagerly smoking mosquitoes away, but after taking a bath, the household head stays aloof by himself. He is calmly at rest, probably, after a day’s work in the heat. Having a talk with them is not his concern at all. That is the case with household heads in
the Edo period (1603~1868). There, the rest of the family felt his dignity and accepted his indifferent attitude as natural. In a sense, the household head was trusted by his family no matter what behavior he might take in the house. The Haiku is based on the ordinary people's generous emotions and warm heart, which the Poet highly valued, as I mention frequently.


While kept busy,
It’s getting dark;
Family smudges for me.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

35.いとまなき 身にくれかゝる かやり哉
   (Itoma naki mini kurekakaru kayari kana)

Season word: kayari(蚊やり), “smudge” (summer)
   Prof. Tsutomu Ogata says
in the Haiku, kakaru (かゝる) has two meanings. One is ‘'t’s getting dark’'(higa kure kakaru) and the other is ‘'moke is hanging over me' (kemuri ga furi kakaru). It’s a traditional Japanese style pun, a paronomasia.
Experiences tell us that mosquitoes begin attacking man at the close of the day. Some one of his family kindly has made a smoky fire to repel mosquitoes. And the smoke hangs on him, household head. He feels a bit choked and notices it’s getting dark. Humane warmth in family is surely felt by the Poet.
Prof. Tsutomu Ogata wonders if the Haiku expresses the Poet himself, busy painting day after day. Through
No. 35 and 36, we fully realize that the Poet made haiku poetry range wider in theme.

Strong smell of grass;
A person lies dead━
A put up notice-board conveys!

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS
36.草いきれ 人死居いると 札の立
     (Kusa ikire hito shini iru to fuda no tatsu)

Season word: kusaikire(草いきれ),” strong smell of grass” (summer)
  In the Edo period(1603~1868) it was not unusual to find a person dead on the street.
  A critic says that the Haiku is written by imagination. If it was not based on a real factbut on pure fantasy, it would have no value whatever. There must be definite realities the fierce heat of summer and the death of a person, though uncertain is it whether he or she died of violent heat or some other cause, as of exhaustion or starvation or etc.
I believe this contrast in realities to be the haiku poem composed in its essence. The frailty of human life, expressed without any attachment, pathetically works on my heart.

On the flatland
I'm travelling weary;
Towering thunderclouds.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

37.ひら地行く 旅のつかれや 雲の峰
(Hirachi yuku tabi no tsukare ya kumo no mine)

Season word: kumo no mine(雲の峰), ”a thundercloud” (summer)
 In a picture a lonely traveler is painted small on the broad flatland, which color is mixed green and brown and towering dark grey thick clouds are growing upwards at the end of the flatland. Clouds as a whole have various effects on those who are outside, working or playing or going through fields or over hills. Sometime comforting and sometime disappointing or even threating.
 He has been traveling on the flatland, oppressed with the monotonous scenery. He is so tired that all that he desires is to take a rest somewhere under shelter. His fatigue from a solitary journey is made all the more terrible for thunderclouds rising far ahead over flatland. They bring about not only increasing exhaustion but fright and new anxiety about his journey itself. As
Mr. Takahashi implies, how we are impressed with the season word ‘kumo no mine (thunderclouds)’ or the way we respond to the threatening clouds will work as a key factor to decide the value of the Haiku to us. The Haiku reads not so exciting to me, but I can identify with the traveler. Both the thunderclouds and the flatland have put him in a real fix.

By a kimono sleeve
She dusted the desk
For 'ge-gaki'.

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

38. たもとして 払ふ夏書の 机哉
  (Tamoto shite harau ge-gaki no tsukue kana)

Season word: gegaki(夏書), ”ge-gaki” (summer)
 There used to be
a religious custom done by Buddhist monks or priests, in which they gave themselves up to discipline, confined in a room, abstaining from going abroad for three months in the summer season.
 The discipline was called ‘
夏安居 (ge-ango)’ or summer-ango. During the ge-ango, they would often transcribe Buddhist scriptures intently, at the writing desk, sitting on the tatami floor. The practice was called 夏書 (ge-gaki). Single-minded transcription of sutras would free the person observing it of worldly concerns, by giving him mental concentration on the one thing.
 After the model of the custom practiced among monks or priests, ordinary men and women of all ages did ‘ge-ango' or 'ge-gaki' in summer. If they followed it in winter, it was called ‘
冬安居 (to-ango)’ or winter-ango.
 The Haiku was created by
the Poet during his 'ge-ango'. The person in the Haiku is a young woman.
 It can be clearly imagined how gracefully she moved her kimono sleeve on the desk. She is just going to do 'ge-gaki' on the desk as one of religious trainings. Probably she is in 'ge-ango' or summer-ango. Kimono, in any style, with sleeves, was very precious for common women. But she highly valued the writing desk on which she was going to observe ‘ge-gaki’. The manner in which she prepared herself for ‘gegaki’ greatly impressed
the Poet, who was himself in the practice of ‘ge-ango’.
 What arouses my interest in the Haiku is not merely the cleaned writing desk itself but her single-minded determination to dust the desk by her precious kimono sleeve.

Streaming from nowhere,
Flowing away to no one knows where,
Fresh summer water through mosses.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

39. いづちより いづちともなき 苔清水
    (Idsuchi yori iduchi tomonaki koke shimizu)

Season word: shimizu(清水), “fresh summer water” (summer)

 Mr. Takahashi says that, by reading the Haiku he is reminded of what Kamo no Choume (鴨長明)(1155 - 1216) said in "Hojoki"(方丈記)[The Ten Foot Square Hut]. Mr. Takahashi finds both have a thing in common, which is the ceaseless flowing of water.
 Here, as a frame of reference, I quote that famous outset of "
Hojoki", in the translation by Soseki Natsume(夏目漱石) (1867 - 1916), who was twenty four years old when he did it.

"Incessant is the change of water where the stream glides on calmly: the spray appears over a cataract, yet vanishes without a moment delay. Such is the fate of men in the world and of the houses in which they live."
 [The Opening Sentences of the Original Text of ‘Hojoki’ :The Ten Foot Square Hut]
[Yuku kawa no nagare wa taezushite, shikamo, motono mizu ni arazu.Yodomi ni ukabu utakata wa, katsu kie, katsu musubi te, hisashiku todomaritaru tameshi nashi. Yononaka ni aru, hito to sumika to, mata, kakuno gotoshi.]
 The Poet felt mystery and eternity in the ceaseless running of summer water in the mountain. Moreover he found a deep joy in them, which I think is vaguely expressed in the Haiku. It is uncertain whether he was clearly conscious of ‘Hojoki’ when he composed the Haiku. It’s rather hard for me to feel a sense of uncertainty in the Haiku. Rather, I suppose that the Haiku induces me to ponder on a sense of immobility or constancy bestowed on humans by the eternal workings of great Nature, not over transient human existence compared with everlasting Nature.

Stonemason cools
His chisels
In the fresh summer water.

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

40.石工の 鑿冷したる 清水かな
    (Ishikiri no nomi hiyashi taru shimizu kana)

Season word: shimizu(清水), ” fresh summer water” (summer)
  Heated chisel both by hard use and terrible summer heat is being soaked in fresh summer water. The contrast between the hot chisels and the clear cool water is so sharp that I feel dynamism of the atmosphere of the Haiku, though the scene is very small and simple, and it reads as if the fresh summer water is described as being eternal existence with generosity toward diversifying human activities. I hope readers will refer to the comments by specialists:
 Mr. Takahashi argues that the Haiku has a more or less profound meaning according to the way a reader interprets it.
 Prof. Ogata comments the fresh summer water gets its transparency higher by finely sharpened chisels being soaked in it.

All around,
What a host of hands!
In the rice-planting season.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

41.見わたせば 蒼生よ 田植時
   (Miwatase ba aohito gusa yo taue doki)

Season word: taue(田植), “rice-planting” (summer)

 ‘Aohitogusa (蒼生)’ is one of ancient Japanese words. It means an increasing crowd of people. The gathering of many people was likened to the thick growth of grass.
 Formerly rice planting required a large amount of labor, and it had to be painstakingly done. The more hands there, the better. When the season came, a lot of people willingly gathered to help each other, or they were, reardless of sex rounded up with every effort.

 The scene of lots of farmers jointly planting rice is so impressive that
the Poet, very excited at the scene, has high hope for a bumper crop. He is deeply affected by harmonious and cooperative working of common people.
We read clearly that people in
the Edo period (1603-1868) could be bursting with vitality for the whole village when the time came and the very time was the season of rice-planting. The Haiku briefly celebrates rice planting as a major event of the year and at the same time it implies how strong was the solidarity of farmers of those days.  Every daimyo feared most a peasant revolt in his feudal territory and took careful precauthis farmers’ unshakable unit.
 'The Seven Samurai'  (七人の侍), directed and produced by Kurosawa Akira(黒澤明)(1910-1998), is a world-famous film which is based on the attle and strategic activities of seven professional warriors who cleverly and patiently imbue farmers solidarity in farming with valor to fight and hope for survival.
 Farming today is highly mechanized with no room left for unit and solidarity. Moreover, ours is a high-tech society, highly individualized. People rarely remember the necessity of unit. The prevention of global warming, the reconstruction and rehabilitation after a mega-quake and tsunami, would they be possible without solidarity on the part of humans?  If
the Poet were alive now, he would advocate that farmers unite in farming before anything else in order to restore active agriculture to Japan.

42. Today is an exception;
Even the bride is out
To plant rice.

けふはとて も出たつ 田植哉
(kyo wa tote yome mo ide tatsu taue kana)
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

Season word: taue(田植), “rice planting(summer)

 According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary Fourth Edition, the bride is a woman on her wedding-day and for some days or weeks before and after it. In Japan, a bride is called (yome), or a daughter-in-law. Even a bride took part in the rice-planting hard labor. She had known enough she was going to bemarried to a farmer’s at the busiest time of year. Planting rice was the most important event in the agricultural industry in the Edo period (1603-1868) , which she was well informed of.
 Busy as farmers are, during a honeymoon period, a newly-married woman used to be relieved of routine work in the fields. Finally the day came. Probably she was well ready for her first tough experience. Her willingness to take part in rice planting might be a passport to a successful wife of a farmer.
 It was only
the Poet that was able to compose haiku like this. He was always in sympathy with farmers’ boundless enthusiasm for growing rice. Well versed in their minds and feelings, he described an aspect of their lives vividly in the Haiku. The Poet helps us have a clear notion of what ‘Taue’(田植) meant to farmers.

Sleep with "daki kago"!
As with a one-night harlot at Fushimi
Exchanging lovers' talks.

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

43.抱籠や ひと夜ふしみの さゝめごと
   (Daki kago ya hitoyo fushimi no sasame goto)

Season word: daki kago (抱籠), "daki-kago” (summer)
Daki kago(抱籠) is a body pillow woven from thin strips of bamboo. It was used to sleep away the heat of summer night in the Edo period (1603-1868). To use it means figuratively sleeping together, that is to say, love affairs with a woman.
*There was an unlicensed district at
'ふしみ(伏見)' ( fushimi) in the Edo period and there lived a lot of harlots. *Hitoyo fushimi(ひと夜ふしみ)intimates that a man sleeps with a harlot one night.
*The place name '
ふしみ(伏見)I’(fushimi) has a pun: ふす'伏す' (fusu) means going to bed.
 The summer heat was intolerable even at night. He decided to sleep with a daki kago in his arms, as with an ordinary kind of body pillow. Generally, bamboo ware feels cool. If held in our arms, it gives us a sense of coolness and the sensible temperature falls quite a bit. Thanks to daki kago, he relaxed and felt as if lying in bed with a woman in his arms. It is doubtful whether it was of late or some years ago but he clearly remembered having a harlot at
Fushimi (伏見), exchanging words of love overnight.
 The Haiku is so boldly open that we are led to accept it as it is and inclined to try once a bamboo body pillow. The keynote of the Haiku is to assume that the man here is a commoner with his wife and children. If he is single, the Haiku is so far from being composed by
the Poet.

What a delight!
To walk across a summer brook,
Sandals in hand.

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

44.夏河を 越すうれしさよ 手に草履
   (Natsu kawa wo kosu ureshisa yo teni zori)

Season word: natsu kawa(夏河), “summer brook” (summer)
The Poet’s preface goes: Because a brook is murmuring before me.
 The continuous murmuring water seduces
the Poet into crossing the brook barefoot. How cool it is, and Prof. Ogata says how cleaned of worldly dust he feels by wadeing a brook bare-footed and cherish a joyful expectation of reaching the other shore or attaining enlightenment.
Mr. Takahashi says that quite a few people read the Poet’s recollection of his own childhood in the Haiku. Surely, years and years ago in the countryside, children would often play on a small stream during broad daylight in summer, just as on a beach. Nobody fails to find the Poet himself is in good cheer in a brook, bare-footed,
his sandals in hand.
 Instead of trying to get deep into the heart of the Haiku, I can fully take delight in appreciating the Haiku by imagining how pleased
the Poet is to be able to walk across a brook barefoot as if he came back to days when he was a little boy.
  I think the hero in the Haiku is
the Poet himself but Mr. Takahashi proposes that if the person wading a brook is a young woman, the Haiku gets more colorful and vivid.

Temple guardian is viewing
Small grass

In summer moonlight.

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

堂守の 小草ながめつ 夏の月
      (Domori no kogusa nagame tsu natsu no tsuki)

Season word:
natsu no tsuki(夏の月), “summer moonlight” (summer)
 *小草(kogusa) means small grass and it is also pronounced ‘ogusa’. When we call grass ‘ogusa’ (小草), it is literally small grass or it means a poetic name for grass, regardless of its size or height
  Instead of the strong sun, now the moon is softly and fairly shining over the temple. In summer moonlight with a refreshing effect on humans, the guardian is sweetly looking out at little summer grass in front of the temple. The grass in the moonlight gives him a great consolation. It is just like the beginning of new life.
  In the Haiku, the size of the temple and how old the guardian is are left to the judgments and tastes of readers.
Then the imaginary expansion will surely take place in our mind.
 After reading the Haiku repeatedly, I had another impression. It reads:
 An argument may arise if it is possible to clearly view literally small grass in moonlight, even in summer, and if there is any necessity that the grass must be small. The view seems to me quite meaningless. Generally, summer grass grows thickly in the sun. I suppose it far from the dominant idea that the summer moon shines so bright as to light up small grass. Summer grass thriving in the daylight seems rather small and sweet under the mild, soft moonlight. The very sweet beauty attracts the attention of the temple guardian,
who was probably exhausted from summer heat by day.
 The central theme is refreshed feeling aroused by summer moon and grass under it. Personally I prefer to read ‘小草’ not as ‘kogusa’ but as ‘ogusa’ which is used as eulogistic name for grass. Evidently whether the grass is small or large is of no importance at all.

Winged ants fly into the air,
Out of a small house
At the foot of Mt. Fuji.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

46.飛蟻とぶや 富士の裾野ゝ 小家より
     (Haari tobu ya fuji no susono no koie yori)

Season word: haari (飛蟻), “winged ants” (summer)

 *The Haiku is hypermetric, 18 sounds. The hypermetric first five’s ’(ya) plays a role of attracting readers’ attention to flying winged ants. It also expresses a breathtaking wonder and a deep emotion. In this sense the sound ‘ya’ is very important.
飛蟻(haari) is another Chinese character for 羽蟻. The pronunciation is the same.
羽蟻(haari) ‘winged ants’’ are those that fly in the air in a horde when they mate .
 In enjoying the Haiku it's better for readers to remember that when the Poet was alive the lower slopes of Mt. Fuji might be dotted with small farm houses but they were probably separated far apart, not thickly settled.
Many academic critics say the value of the Haiku lies in the simultaneous expression of both 'tiny and huge' in a grand scale. Surely the comment is fairly to the point.
 Mt. Fuji and a small house at its foot and winged ants, all these are quite ordinary things respectively. But I think readers are pleasantly attracted to winged ants in the Haiku all because they look magnified in their imagination. It is due to
the Poet’s magical perspective. If it is likened to a painting, the foreground is ‘flying winged ants’. His intention to attract our attention to flying winged ants takes little time to beaccomplished.
Mr. Takahashi is suspicious of
the Poet’s profound intention of the Haiku hidden somewhere that we cannot possibly recognize.
  It's better not to wonder if it is possible to see the vast foot of Mt. Fuji and little antswhile they are mating swarming, and a small house on the vast plain at the same time. The Haiku is above such trite arguments.

In the silence,
On a pillar
A firefly rests.

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

47. 静さの 柱にとまる ほたるかな
     (Shizukesa no hashira ni tomaru hotaru kana)

Season word: hotaru(ほたる), ” a firefly” (summer)
  As the night goes on, utter silence falls all around. A firefly, charmed by the quietness, is winking its light, resting on the pillar at the external corridor of a traditional Japanese house. The glimmer of the firefly on the pillar makes all the deeper the darkness and stillness of the air, which is not expressed in his words.
Prof. Ogata comments that the Haiku has a mysterious atmosphere. Mr.Takahashi says dead silence is brought about as the Poet kept his gaze fixed on darkness.
 On reading the Haiku, I was reminded of the well known haiku by
Basho(1644-1694). It goes;

The silence;
The voice of cicadas

Penetrates the rocks.
  (Translated by R.H. Blyth)

閑さや 岩にしみ入る 蟬の聲

(Shizukasa ya iwa ni shimiiru semi no koe)

 It seems that the stillness is made all the more profound by the voices of cicadas. It's next to impossible to deny the Poet did not think of the haiku by Basho when he composed the Haiku. The reason is, what the two Haiku have in common seems to be the quietness that is made solemn by real insects, one a firefly and the other cicadas.

Fair-complexioned my child,
How happy!
Under a small mosquito net;

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

皃白き 子のうれしさよ まくら蚊帳
    (Kao shiroki kono ureshisa yo makura gaya)

Season word: makura gaya(まくら蚊帳), “small mosquito net” (summer)
 *From of old, in Japan, it has been believed that a fair complexion hides seven defects.

 The child is a girl.
The Poet had a daughter, his only child, late in his life but the girl in the Haiku is not the case. Born with a fair complexion, it was a gift of highest quality for the girl herself and her parents as well.
The Haiku sings a deep pleasure of the parents who fondly gaze at their sleeping child through a mosquito net without disturbing her sleep. And how impressive it is their hearty prayer that she might grow up in good health by protecting her sound sleep with a mosquito net.
Mr. Takahashi remarks the Haiku is light-colored and Prof. Ogata says the feelings of parents for a daughter are well read. I think the heartiness of the Haiku has warmth enough to give it a soul.

Short night;
Near the pillow stands
A silver folding screen.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

49.みじか夜や 枕にちかき 銀屏風
    (Mijika yoya makura ni chika ki gin byobu)

Season word: mijikayo(みじか夜), “short night” (summer)
*Kagami Shiko(各務支考)(1665-1731), Basho’s disciple, said in his続五輪 (Zokugoron), “The gold screen gives us the sense of warmth and the silver coolness. The difference shows their own true nature.”

 Before going to bed a folding screen was placed hard by the pillow to guard the sleep from the lingering heat. The time in the Haiku is that of around daybreak. If we set the time before going to bed, we will miss the important function that the Poet trusted the seasonal word, ‘short night’ to perfom in the Haiku.
 As above mentioned, we feel cool by the color of silver, while it looks as if it shortens the summer night. But it's certain that the silver folding screen at the bedside has given a good sleep, though shortened. In this sense, the folding screen in the Haiku gives a fairly luxurious atmosphere.
 Readers should avoid imaging a short night affair was had with someone behind this silver folding screen.

The moon after a rain;
Who’s fishing by waving torchlight?
His shanks white.
Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

50.雨後の月 誰そや夜ぶりの 臑白き
   (Ugo no tsuki taso ya yoburi no sune shiroki)

Season word: yoburi(夜ぶり), “torch fishing, fishing by waving torchlight” (summer)
 *The fishing is done in a river by summer night. Fishes are attracted by torchlight waved around, and speared. They are fresh-water eels, crucian carp, carps, daces, etc.
 *Usually people enjoy the fishing for getting cool or for pleasure, mostly not for a living. But naturally there are fishing those who try to 'kill two birds with one stone'.

 This may be torch fishing for pleasure. The moon after a rain looks fair in the clear sky and the air blowing over the water surface is refreshing. The white shanks, bathed in red light from the torch, look all the more white and they are pleasantly getting cooler in the flowing water. It seems that
the Poet feels envious of a fisherman for being lavish in the use of a moon-lit summer night.
 I suppose some readers will remember the Haiku No.46. There great Mt. Fuji and winged flying ants are on a canvas and here the vast night sky with a shining moon and a small pair of shanks are depicted on the same screen. Marvelous is
his skill to draw our attention to a small object against a vast thing in the background.

Young bamboos!
With the setting sun

Saga is now lit up..

Next haiku Back to CONTENTS

51.若竹や 夕日の嵯峨と 成にけり
    (Wakatake ya yuhi no saga to narini keri)

Season word: wakatake(若竹), “young bamboos” (summer)
  *Saga(嵯峨) is located in the suburbs of Kyoto. The place has been noted for its bamboo groves.

  The young bamboo groves are glowing with the splendor of the setting sun, and it makes the air shine in and around Saga.
The Poet is very sensible of the passage of time of the year in Saga through the delicate changes of the color of young bamboos. It goes without saying that they are seen with the eye of the artist. The place is well known for its bamboo groves and the time has come round there again when it shines in the setting sun with its glowing young bamboos.
The Poet has eagerly waited for the Shining Time, the Earthly Paradise with rich colors, where we share with him a surge of excitement. The Haiku is anything but trite. Readers have to see far beyond a picture of glorious set.

 (To be continuted)