||Living in the World of Buson
|Spring (haru)(春) Part Ⅰ)
| According to academic critics, including Mr. Osamu Takahashi, the spring in and out Buson passes very slowly. If so, we readers will have to be always highly sensitive to the Poet’s time perception to approach straight to the essence of his haiku poems.
|(January 1, 2009)
|azalea つゝじ 29,30
|burnt field やけ野 62
||butterfly 胡蝶 25
|camellia 椿 31
||cherry blossoms 花 39-41
||cherry blossom fall 花散る 42,43
|cherry blossom fall 花散る 42,43
||falling cherry blossoms 落花 38
||first day of spring 立春 67
|haze of a spring day かすみ 22
||hazy spring moon おぼろ月 19,20
||hina dolls 雛 52,53
|Java water drop wort 芹 27
||kite いかのぼり 2
||long day of spring 遅き日 18
|New Year's Day Haiku 歳旦 4
||peach blossoms 桃 59-61
|plowing / tilling the field 畑うつ 36,37
||rape blossoms 菜の花 33,34,35
||rice cakes 雑煮 3
|servant's holiday 薮入り 5
||shepherd's purse 三味線草 26
||departing spring 行く春 64-66
|skylark 雲雀 54,55
|| spring equinox 彼岸 51
||spring evening 春の暮 10-13
|spring rain 春雨 44-46A・B,47
||spring sea 春の海 48
||spring stream 春の水 50
|straw seed rice-bag 種俵 28
||stream of spring 春の流れ 49
||swallow つばめ 32
|ume tree梅 7-9 ume on the bank 14
||warbler うぐいす 6
||water has warmed up 水温む 58
|white ume blossoms しら梅 15-17
||wild cherry blossoms 山ざくら63
||wild geese returning 帰る雁 21
|wild geese start north 雁立つ 23
||wisteria flowers 藤の花56,57
Vague effect as shooting at clouds,
There seen cherry blossoms－
The first arrow of the year.
|1.手ごたへの 雲に花あり 弓はじめ|
(Tegotae no kumo ni hana ari yumihajime)
Season word: yumi hajime(弓はじめ), “to shoot a first arrow of the year”(spring)
The Poet’s preface to the Haiku goes:
I have not yet viewed the cherry blossoms at Yoshino. Now I am contemplating
a trip to Yoshino this spring to appreciate its cherry blossoms. (Translated by hokuto77)
我いまだ よしのゝ花を 見ず候ほどに､ この春は ぜひおもひたゝばやと 存候
(Ware imada yoshino no hana wo mizu soro hodoni kono haru wa zehi omoitataba
ya to zonji soro)
It's doubtful whether the Poet aimed at clouds in the distance, but it is certain he shot a first arrow
with some prayer and he saw an illusion of cherry blossoms in the clouds far off. The Haiku sings
out his cherished desire to view famous cherry flowers which he has not yet seen. The effect of shooting a first arrow presents the Poet with a strong will to live a year of vigor.
Quotation and images corner:
Yoshino and its surrounding areas are rich in historical, cultural, and natural
heritages. These places are also famous for the magnificent cherry trees
called shimo, naka, kami, and oku senbon. The higher, the later. Time of full bloom of cherry blossoms depends
on the height of places trees are planted in. So, we are able to enjoy
watching cherry blossoms for several weeks. (Quoted from a blog by ‘kimura88honyaku’)
|2.几巾 きのふの空の 有り所
(Ika nobori kino no sora no ari dokoro)
Season word: ikanobori(いかのぼり), “kite”(winter)
There is a kite flying up in the New Year's sky. Around the same spot the Poet clearly remembers seeing another one wafting high yesterday. By the coincidental scene,
one kite after another for two days, time has come to pass very slowly
within him. In other words, as critics attract our attention there, we can safely
go so far as to say that his imagination has begun to travel in eternal time and space.
People agree the Haiku is one of his best haiku poems. The most probable explanation is that the Haiku leads
us into eternity. At this time the Poet was fifty-four and I think he was on the starting point of making his creative career more and more productive
and profound. He must have been full of energy.
||Enjoying three bowls of zoni
At the New Year's breakfast;
Millionaire as he is!
|3. 三椀の 雑煮かゆるや 長者ぶり
(Sanwan no zoni kayuru ya chojya buri)
Season word: zoni(雑煮), “zoni” or “sitting at the New Year's breakfast of rice-cakes” (spring)
'Zoni' is a soup containing mochi (rice cakes), vegetables and other ingredients.
To cook zoni was very expensive for the common people in the Edo period(1603-1868). To eat three bowls of 'zoni' at a time for breakfast was beyond all imagination
The luxurious meal at the New Year's breakfast is such a one as a millionaire can be capable of. Wonder and envy on the part of common people are placidly expressed, but I read no base humility there. It may depend on the Poet's placid standpoint of life. Many academic critics comment that by tasting three bowls of zoni for breakfast on New Year's Day, he thinks himself a real millionaire, to feel complacency even half an hour and escape from
utter misery. Here in, it makes no difference whether the man tasting Zoni’
is the Poet himself or someone else.
Nine is probably a distorted or wrong interpretation, [translation (2)], but I can’t possibly agree with them.Their interpretation, [translation (1)] does not give me a poetic expanse, though I know it’s all because I’m
not well trained in appreciating haiku poems.
|4.歳旦を したり顔なる 俳諧師
(Saitan wo shitarigao naru haikaishi)
Season word: saitan(歳旦),”haiku that celebrate New Year's Day”(spring)
*The Haiku has a preface by the Poet himself. The summary by hokuto77 goes:Lively festival music does not go with a rhythm of ‘Shufu raku(秋風楽) : autumn wind’s ceremonial court music of Japan. At the bright haiku gathering in the new year we should avoid both the
elegant simplicity and the interpretation of man and nature in a haiku
from a viewpoint of compassion, both of which are pursued by the disciples of Basho’s.
For this very reason, today I composed the Haiku by following the manner of expression of a fresh and young haiku poet staying in Edo (now Tokyo).
*'Saitan'(歳旦) has two meanings; one is New Year's Day or the first day of the year and
the other a haiku poem that celebrates New Year's Day. They held a meeting,
where each of them brought their haiku and opened it up. The meeting was
called 'Saitan biraki'(歳旦開き). In the Haiku the Poet directly refers to none other than himself at 'Saitan biraki'.
*The word 'shitari' (したり) in the Haiku has two meanings; one is 'did, performed' and the other
is 'complacent, or triumphant, or self-satisfied'. The association beween
the two leaves a very simple and fresh impression on us.
To appreciate the Haiku properly, it’s inevitable to fully grasp what the Poet means by his own preface.
Whether the Haiku is intended merely to be humorous on New Year’s Day or
lament and complain of the triteness of then current haiku, hokuto77 hesitates to tell. What is certain is the Poet usually cautions himself against creating conventional poems in an elated
manner. It is highly probable that he composed the Haiku to manifest it as one of his New Year's resolutions.
||On a holiday at home
Apprentice's a short dream－
While adzuki beans boiling.
|5.薮入りの 夢や小豆の にへる中
(Yabuiri no yume ya azuki no nieru uchi)
Season word: yabuiri(薮入り), “a servants' holiday; a apprentices' day”(spring)
On the New Year's Day or around about the Feast in memory of the Dead,
'O Bon' according to the old calendar, servants used to be presented with
one or two holidays to return home. The holiday, or the custom was called
According to Prof. Ogata’s guide, a boy or girl apprentice has returned home after a long absence
and feels relaxed, wrapped in parent's warm love. He falls asleep but his
relaxation is short-lived. He is woken up, cut off from precious sleep,
when adzuki beans are boiled.
If the boy is dreaming something, the Poet imagines, it will be a warm, happy domestic atmosphere. He feels sympathy and deep affection for the apprentice. The Haiku tells
us the pathos caused by apprenticeship of feudal times.
The Poet wrote 13 haiku poems with servants' holiday as season word. The number will be small or large, according to our viewpoints, and Mr. Takahashi considers it from both the angle of the Poet’s birth and breeding conditions, and his family background, about which you will read in his Buson Shunjyu(蕪村春秋).
|6.うぐひすや 何ごそつかす 薮の霜
(Uguisu ya nani gosotsukasu yabu no shimo)
Season word: uguisu(うぐいす), “warbler” (spring)
The Poet has three swan songs. This is the second one.
The Poet has been ill in bed, and his last moment is near. He has heard notes of a bush warbler, and the rustles of the bush faintly
reach his ears. He is convinced it's a warbler that is making rustles in the bush. His family may have told him the bush is frosted. He wonders what the warbler searches rustling in the frosted bush.
In the first swan song,[N0.53 in Winter], he remembers Oi(王維) he has adored for his life through the notes of 'winter warbler.'
Here in the second one, Mr. Takahashi says, he looks back on his past, and he compares his life with that of the rummaging bush warbler in the frost. The Poet feels some affection for the moving bird, which Prof. Ogata comments, as a sign of the awakening of life after winter. But the Poet is not attached to his life. He is prepared for his last moment. The Haiku is a parting poem from his life.
|7.二もとの むめに遅速を 愛すかな
(Futa moto no ume ni chisoku wo aisu kana)
Season word: mume(梅), “ume tree”(spring)
The Poet wrote to his friends insisting that two different ways of creating haiku poems be accepted
respectively and respectfully.
The Poet is pleased that the two ume trees in his garden are different in their blooming time. By the Haiku he means he values the individuality in any field of human activity, as well as that
of nature. The situation is eaxtly detailed in the comments both by Prof. Ogata and Mr. Takahashi.
|8.梅遠近 南べく 北すべく
(Ume ochi kochi minnani subeku kita subeku)
Season word: ume(梅), “ume tree”(spring)
The Poet has heard news about the blooming of ume trees far and near. He is so pleased and excited that he is in two minds as to whether to set out south or north. What a straight
forward expression of his happy feelings!
On first reading we
picture the Poet walking around in his garden in high spirits.
|9.小豆売 小家の梅の つぼみがち
(Azuki uru koie no ume no tsubomi gachi)
Season word: ume(梅), “ume tree”(spring)
As Prof. Ogata comments, buds on ume trees are yet small and the house is small and so are adzuki
beans. Everything small greets the Poet's eyes, while both adzuki beans and ume buds are red.
The Poet thinks the seller is not well off. He feels a little sympathy for him, but he is pleased to find ume trees of the house are budding. It seems to me the
Haiku was written in his warm emotion toward a poor seller. While in the depth of the Poet's heart, spring has started to be far advance. By the Haiku we are looking
forward to the complete separation from the coldness of winter.
You can have other impression. The seller is not necessarily the owner of
the small house. The Poet came across him in front of a small house with a ume tree beside it. Then he got the imagery of 'small three'.
|10.誰がための 低きまくらぞ 春の暮
(Taga tame no hikuki makura zo haru no kure)
Season word: haru no kure(春の暮), “a spring evening”(spring)
The prepared pillow in bed is low. According to critics, it's undoubtedly
for a man. The scene attracts a great deal of the Poet’s attention. Time is a spring evening. Naturally, there arises an irresistible
sensuous atmosphere. But as everyone recognizes, the expression is unbelievably
objective and much is left, like the opening sentence of a novel, to our
own imagination, and it varies individually. Mr. Takahashi says ‘technical skill’ is, in a good sense, one of the chief distinctions
of the Poet.
|11.春の夕 たえなむとする 香をつぐ
(Haru no kure taenamu to suru ko wo tsugu)
Season word: haru no kure(春の夕), “spring evening”(spring)
OED defines that, the origin of the word 'incense' L.incensum means 'that which is set on fire'. Incense was born in the ancient India and spread to both West and East and it has been used in a religious ceremony.
In the western world it has developed as 'perfume' and by way of China it reached Japan with Buddhism and it was established as the incense ceremony by the warrior class in the Muromachi period (1336-1573). In the Edo period (1603-1868) it became popular even with the common people.
In the incense ceremony none are used but fragrant woods which are cut
into small pieces. It is artistic activity just like the tea ceremony or
the art of flower arrangement. It developed closely related to Japanese
Incense leads us to enter fantastic world, have peace of mind and create
our own world of beauty. And from of old 'Ten Effects of Incense' have come down to now in Japan. We should keep it in mind that ‘smelling incense’ is quite different from ‘smoking marijuana’. The latter is now lamentably spreading among young Japanese, who do not realize that it leads them straight to a terribly Hellish life.
Please, now let me introduce the 'Ten Effects':
|1. Kansei wo togisumasu. （感性を研ぎ澄ます）
It hones your sensitivity finely.
2. Shinshin wo seijyou ni suru. (心身を清浄にする)
It purifies your mind and body.
3. Yoku yogore wo torinozoku. (よく汚れを取り除く)
It removes your uncleanness.
4. Yoku nemuri wo samasu. (よく眠りを覚ます)
It shakes off your drowsiness.
5. Shizukesa no nakani tomo wo tsukuru. (静けさの中に友を作る)
It leads you to make friends in stillness.
6. Bochu kan wo nusumu. (忙中閑を偸む)
It lets you snatch intervals of leisure in your busyness.
|7. Okutomo itowazu (多くとも厭わず)
Its large amount doesn't make you dislike it.
8. (Shoryo demo jyubun tariru (少量でも十分足りる)
Its small amount serves your purpose.
9. Nagaku hozon shitemo kuchinai (長く保存しても朽ちない)
It keeps long.
10. Jyoyo shitemo sawariganai (常用しても障りがない)
Its regular use is harmless.
(Translated by hokuto77)
The incense in the Haiku is a personal smelling of incense, not smelling
at the incense party.
The Poet has spent a precious spring day burning incense, enjoying some of ‘The Ten Effects of Incense'.
The spring evening has begun to fall and the incense is running out. The Poet is eager to keep up the evening, wrapped in the lazy comfortable incense
of late spring, as he is well aware the spring evening is fading into summer. Does he add incense, expecting someone to appear from nowhere? By adding incense he seems to try to keep the relaxation or emotional stability lasting longer.
I think the action of adding incense finely expresses that poetic emotion
which arises from living in the seasonal transition
|12.匂ひ有る きぬもたゝまず 春の暮れ
(Nioi aru kinu mo tatama zu haru no kure)
Season word: haru no kure(春の暮), “spring evening”(spring)
To burn incense to perfume one's clothes is one of long-standing personal
habits to be well-groomed.
The person who has just returned home steeps himself in the sentiment
enchanted with spring evening and he neglects to do a duty to change his
clothes and hold the incensed clothes. It is neither cold nor hot and the
time somewhat languid. The atmosphere of the room is beginning to be filled
with a lingering perfume of the clothes he wears. A mental weariness, a
melancholic mood caused by a spring day form the basis of the Haiku. What
if something has happened to him? And it's unknown whether it is a good
thing or not. The depth of the Haiku may lie in its resonance note that
we could catch if we would try.
|13.春の暮れ 家路に遠き 人斗
(Haru no kure ieji ni toki hito bakari)
Season word: harunokure(春の暮れ), "spring evening"(spring)
The Haiku is straightforwardly expressive of the reluctance to part from
the lingering sunlight of a pleasant and precious spring hour. Today is
so lovely and mild that people, including the Poet, are eager to keep themselves basking in it as long as they can. Due to
the plainness of expression and our similar experiences, we can easily
absorb ourselves in their frame of minds.
|14.舟よせて 塩魚買ふや 岸の梅
(Fune yosete shio uo kauya kishi no ume)
Season word: ume(梅),"ume blossoms" (spring)
Seeing a fish seller, the man rowed a small boat near the bank to get salted
fish or, attracted by the ume tree covered in blossom on the bank, to view
and smell them heartily. It’s doubtful which of the two is first. Many
will wisely say that it’s probable the man had both at once. Anyway, the
seller had been waiting under the ume tree at its best. From the power
of the Haiku I guess his chief purpose is probably the latter.
The scene was not uncommon in the Edo period (1603-1868). But the Poet described a fleeting moment of spring atmosphere in haiku. Ume blossoms,
white or pink, watched silently human daily activities, as if they themselves
called for both a small boat and a salted fish seller.
|15.しら梅や 北野ゝ茶店に すまひ取り
(Shiraume ya kitano no chaya ni sumai tori)
Season word: shira ume(しら梅),"white ume blossoms" (spring)
*The Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (北野天満宮) in Kyoto is a historic shrine dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane (845-903), and it is noted for its white ume blossoms.
*Sumaitori(すまひ取り) is a sumo wrestler.
*The Shrine reminds us of the famous tanka poem composed by Michizane right before he was relegated to a far lower position and banished in exile
to Dazaifu (大宰府) in Kyushu, slandered by his political great rival, Fujiwara Tokihira (藤原時平) ( 871-909).
The poem goes:
|| 東風吹かば にほひをこせよ 梅花
(kochi fukaba niwoi okoseyo mumeno hana
aruji nashi tote haruwo wasuruna)
When vernal east winds blow,
Send me fragrance,
Oh! Mume Blossoms;
Far away as thy master,
Never forget to bloom.
People have a pathetic legend. Its summary goes:
“The three trees in his home garden in Kyoto were a cherry, a pine, and a ume tree. They all had great admiration for Michizame. Knowing his relegation to a faraway place, Dazaifu, the cherry tree finally withered in a great sense of sadness and despair.
The pine and the ume had such a burning desire to be with him as to go up in the air and started to fly after him. But the pine tree completely lost its strength on the way and landed on a hill in Itayado
Machi in now Hyogo Prefecture and rooted there. The hill is called ‘the Flying Pine Hill’ (飛松岡). While the ume tree kept flying after its master and the day overnight successfully landed
in Dazaifu. The story is called ‘the Flying Ume Legend’(飛梅伝説). ”
Naturally people had a few realistic details from which the Legend with a happy ending was created. According to ‘tukusigal’, who says on her blog that, born and brought up in Kyushu, she has been living in Michigan, US, married, for 28years and flies back to her home Kyushu as often as possible, and introduces
the places she visits both in Japanese and English on her blog,
"what actually happened, however, might have been somebody didultiplication of the tree and brought a part of it and transplanted it here."
If you visit Dazaifu Shrine in Febrary, you can greet and enjoy ume blossoms, which are all “absolutely
beautiful”. The “Flying Ume Tree”, believed to be over 1,000 years old, does open its blossoms a littler earlier than others
According to the Poet's letter to his disciple Kito(几董)(1741-1789), his intention of the Haiku is a sharp contrast between pretty, quiet ume blossoms
and powerful and active sumo wrestlers. But, as Prof. Ogata says, there can be common elements between the two. Probably the elements
consist of the two qualities: one is the imperturbable (unable to be upset), calm grace and the other the commanding air.
*The Poet’s letter to his disciple Kito (几董) will be translated into English here as soon as the data is collected
||White ume blossoms;
Someone standing, as of old,
Outside the hedge.
|16.白梅や 誰がむかしより 垣の外
(Shira ume ya taga muakshi yori kakino soto)
Season word: shiraume(白梅),"white ume blossoms" (spring)
The Poet is not in the house but outside the hedge where he views the blossoms. They are so absolutely gorgeous that he entertains some imaginary scenes; ume blossoms here are sweet-smelling
every year. They seem to have attracted people from old days.
In his fantasy, a person in the house expects someone to view the ume blossoms
and he or she senses that someone is smelling the blossoms outside the
hedge. If the person is a female, she will hope the person standing outside
is a man who has been or will be attracted to her.
The Poet's deep affection to white ume blossoms, in general as well as in particular,
can be fully read in the Haiku. If I'm admitted a little digression, I
recall well-known expressions in the Chinese style:
(Nen nen saisai hana ai nitari, saisai nennen hito onaji karazu)
'Year in, year out the flowers look the same; year out, year in the faces change.'
(From Kenkyusha’s New Japanese-English Dictionary)
|17.しら梅に 明くる夜ばかりと なりにけり
(Shiraume ni akuru yobakari to narini keri)
Season word: shiraume(しら梅),"white ume blossoms" (spring)
*It is the Poet's last (third) death poem. Gekkei(月渓)(1752－1811), one of the Poet's disciples in haiku and painting as well, wrote down what the Poet said on his deathbed. Gekkei’s note goes: the Poet said, “I’ve produced my last haiku, closed my eyes, and ask you whether the night
is still deep.” Saying this, he passed away.
According to the notes by Kito(几董) (1741-1789), one of the Poet's disciples in haiku, the Poet died in peace as though he fell asleep in comfort. They said that there remained nothing to worry him but his only dear unhappy daughter.
*He has three swan songs including the Haiku. The last but one is N0. 6 in Spring and the first of the three is N0. 53 in Winter.
The following passage was newly posted to this website on April 9, 2013.
*Last poems composed by tanka or haiku poets are generally, it seems to me, not so complicated nor filled with metaphors as those by warriors whose tragic deaths were enforced on them.
As for Basho, revered as the greatest haiku poet, I believe, his last one issued forth from his mind and heart as frank and straight feelings. It’s a jewel, symbolizing his whole literary life. Please spare me a bit of your time.
||旅に病で 夢は枯野を かけ廻る
ni yande yume wa kareno wo kake-meguru
Sick on a journey, my dreams wander the withered fields.
(Translated by Robert Hass)
Similarly, the last of Buson’s is none other than what he told his disciple 月渓 on his deathbed, without any technique or poetic ornament. Here I repeat its point. "My last haiku is composed and my eyes are already closed. This night and
darkness eternally turns into dawn, full of pure and serene white ume blossoms
just like those in my garden."
The scent of white ume blossoms must have come to the Poet on his deathbed. Naturally it means the beginning of the ume blossom season but he is sure that he is just dying. Eyes closed, he sees the purity of white ume blossoms in his imagination, where the purity, he is convinced, will show him the way to 'the Pure Land in the West'. Every time I read the Haiku, his serene frame of mind on his deathbed gets more clear and relaxed through its soothing rhythm, my imaginary
fragrance of white ume blossoms remaining beautiful and sharp in memory.
|18.遅き日の つもりて遠き むかし哉
(Osoki hi no tsumori te tooki mukashi kana)
Season word: osokihi(遅き日),"a long day of spring" (spring)
The Haiku has the preliminary title of 'Kaikyu'(懐旧), the yearning for the old days.
According to Prof. Ogata’s comment, on a long day of spring the Poet happens to feel he has lived to be very old. Looking back on days gone by, he realizes the passage of time is so weighty in its meaning and he feels strong nostalgia for his old days. His prime youth shall never return. He knows it well. He holds each day of his past all the dearer for it. Many spring seasons that have passed are associated
with his prime youth, or ‘spring season’ of his life.
Critics point out the technique of duplicate expression－'many years ago' and 'far off days' is not fresh. But strangely, I discover
reading it aloud sounds mild and comfortable.
|He took off the 'sashinuki'
With his feet;
Hazy spring moon.
さしぬきを 足でぬぐ夜や 朧月
(Sashinuki wo ashi de nugu yoya oboro zuki)
Season word: oborodzuki(おぼろ月),"a hazy spring moon" (spring)
*The Haiku belongs to one of his Heian-period’s pieces. Nobles in the Heian Period (794-1192) in Japan used to wear a 'sashinuki' on a 'kariginu' clothes. Both
sexes wore the clohtes.
*'Sashinuki'(指貫) is a loose-legged pleated trousers (a kind of hakama), the hem of which was tied up with a string, so it was called ‘sashinuki’(指貫).
*'Kariginu'(狩衣) is informal clothes (worn by the Heian court nobles).
A noble, probably young, arrived home. If he is in his usual state of mind, he
will remove his 'sashinuki' with his hands. Instead, this evening, he took
it off with his feet. It's uncertain whether he's standing or lying down
on the tatami mat floor. Anyway, it's a terribly negligent manner unbecoming
to a noble, far from being refined, whether he is young or old.
Something must have happened to him. It can be discovered, from several
angles. Mr. Takahashi quotes some guesses from other critics. One goes:
He may be a little drunken and after walking under the hazy moon he feels
somewhat languid. The hazy moon may have affected him more than the 'sake'
he enjoyed. What if there is a woman helping him out of his 'sashinuki'?
The hazy moon may have created a romantic atmosphere.
My interpretation is, centuries ago, the sky was clear, unpolluted at all. If he was sensitive to the hazy moon and charmed by it, it was proable enough for him to remove his 'sashinuki'
without using his hands. It's doubtful whether or not it was easily taken
off by feet. He used his hands partly. The Poet adopted a rhetorical expression in order to produce a strong and impressive
effect. The hazy moon was only looking down at human activities. The noble may have gotten
some trouble with money and love or human relationships and was a little reckless with his behaviour, much affected by the weariness of the hazy spring moon.
The whole meaning is a little ambiguous, but the hazy moon in the Haiku makes its own presence strongly felt. It may be ascribed
to the direct relationship between man's activity and what the season word,‘the hazy moon’ symbolizes.
|20. 女倶して 内裏拝まん おぼろ月
(Onna gushite dairi ogaman oboro dzuki) *In the Haiku 'on' is counted one syllable.
Season word: oborodzuki(おぼろ月),"a hazy spring moon" (spring)
The Haiku belongs to one of his Heian-period pieces.
The Poet thinks the spring moon thinly veiled in haze is too good to view it alone,
and his loneliness in the hazy moon will make him desirous of company. What smartness and elegance it is to walk in so hazy
a spring moon, with a woman, as far as the Imperial Palace! It does not
matter whether the woman is one whom he has in his mind or not. The moon viewed in spring is, hazy or pale, what lets the Poet wander off in imagination.
|21. 帰る雁 田ごとの月の 曇る夜に
(Kaeru kari tagoto no tsuki no kumoru yoni)
Season word: kaeru kari(帰る雁),"wild geese returning" (spring)
In Japan wild geese are objects of creative activities in literature and
fine arts, and on their part, they arouse the literary or artistic emotion
of Japanese people. It's probably because they are migrants. Their temporary
staying, though annual, harmonizes with Japanese people's sense of uncertainty
of life and brings about a touch of pathos in their minds. People hold
wild geese dear and empathize with them. The gentle feelings are also turned
to other birds of passage, such as, swallows, cranes, or the like. While
in England wild geese are game birds and they will not so often cause delicate literary feelings as in Japan.
Here I quote from Shakespeare. (Notes and comment by hokuto77) 'King Lear' ACT Ⅱ Scene ⅳ 46~50 goes:
*The word 'winter' symbolizes the adversity which Lear has fallen into.
||Fool. Winter's not gone yet, if the wild geese fly that way.
Fathers that wears rags
Do make their children blind,
But fathers that bear bags
Shall see their children kind.
From '2 Henry Ⅳ ACT ⅴ Sceneⅰ 79
||They flock together in consent, like so many Wild-Geese.
*consent=agreement or unity of opinion, unanimity
From 'As You Like It' ACT Ⅱ Scene Ⅶ 86~7
||If he be free, Why then my taxing like a wild-goose flies Unclaim’d of
*taxing=censure(=blame, expression of disapproval)
*fly=fly away *of=by
*unclaimed=not claimed claim=demand as one's property or earnings
*my taxing flies---like a wild-goose
In these quotations, it will be difficult to discover any mental process of 'projecting one’s personality into wild geese', that is, 'feeling oneself into wild geese', or in present-day English 'to have one’s imaginative empathy with wild
This cultural difference must be accepted as it is, though it may be a
culture shock to Japanese lovers of haiku poems, and English people may
find it hard to sympathize with Japanese gentle, warm feelings towards
As academic critics say, tears are in the eyes of both man and geese through
the sadness of parting from each other. The sky is not clouding, but the
moon is dimly reflected on the paddy fields. The supposed interpretation
makes the Haiku more touching. In the Haiku I read man, animals, and their
environment create a perfect peaceful harmony.
|22.高麗船の よらで過行 霞かな
(Koma bune no yorade sugi yuku kasumi kana)
Season word: kasumi(霞),"the haze of a spring day" (spring)
*'Komabune' is a big ship of the ancient Korea, 'Koukuri'(高句麗)(BC37 - B.C.668)
*'Koma' is another name of the country 'Koukuri'.
*A ‘sailer’ is a ship or vessel with reference to her powers of sailing. (OED)
A big Korean vessel is sailing in the haze of a spring day. It is not a fantasy in the haze but the real appearance of a big ship sailing in the haze. The Poet expects her to put in at the port, but finally the ship is gone out of
sight, veiled in a misty air. By sailing away very slowly, she has left him a fantastic effect. Probably in the haze he has entertained a faint longing for a foreign ship and her country, while he forms quite a little attachment to them and only a bit ill feeling against the haze into which his dear foreign sailing ship has been completely absorbed.
| Sad to say, Professor Tsutomu Ogata, whom I respect secretly, passed away suddenly on 26 March, 2009. I mourn
his death and offer my heartfelt sympathy to his bereaved family and to all who know him well.
To my regret, it was as late as on April 26, when I knew of his sudden death. According to the article in the Asahi Shimbun of that day, Prof. Tsutomu Ogata, in hospital treatment, was planning how he was going to spend his days after his recovery from lower-back pain. But his condition took an unexpected turn for the worse and he died of multiple organ failure. He was 89 years old.
It's beyond my imagination how bitterly he was disappointed. I feel for him that probably he left behind his great regrets because of the suddenness of his departure from this world, though he made great achievements in the study of Japanese classical literature.
He is the greatest authority on Basho and Buson, truly worthy of being called
a person of profound learning. The Asahi continues that he was anxious about the decline of the study of Japanese literature in universities.
Now, I have decided I do all I can to continue to update my website, ‘Living in the world of Buson’, till I breathe my last.
I pray he may rest in peace.
||Wild geese gone ━
Paddy fields before the house
Looks like far away.
|23. 雁立て 門田も遠く おもへけり
(Kari tachi te kadota mo toku omoe keri)
Season word: karitatsu(雁立つ), "wild geese start north" (spring)
geese have started north. The Poet misses the
wild geese which were staying in the paddy field right in front of the house. Now the field,
without geese feeding or resting there, seems to be far away from him. Wild geese and human beings used to live together in peace, and this was, in his mind, one of the great workings of Nature. The Haiku depicts his strong love of wild geese far plainer and simpler than that of 22.
To think deeply, we'll learn a lot from this Haiku how to live in harmonry
24. 雉子鳴くや 坂を下りの 駅舎
nakuya sakawo kudarino tabiyadori)
Season word: kijinaku(雉子鳴く), "pheasant's cries" (spring)
*'駅舎' is pronounced 'ta-bi-ya-do-ri'. It has two meanings. One is 'staying at aninn during the trip'. The other is 'an inn for travelers'. In the Haiku it means thelatter.
* Prof. Ogata comments '坂を下り' has two meanings, which make puns. One is 'going down a
hill', and the other a 'return trip'.
Going down the mountain path at evening
twilight, the Poet hears a pheasant cry and, to his great relief, inns come in sight. He stays in one of them. Pheasants are game birds but the cries play an important
role in the Haiku. As Prof. Ogata says, they remind him of his dear home from where he started his trip. Although
the Haiku sounds somewhat commonplace, there I read the intimate relationship between
man and living creatures: they used to live side by side, just as we read in the Haiku 23.
|25.釣り鐘に とまりて眠る 胡てふ哉
(Tsurigane ni tomari
te nemuru kocho kana)
Season word: kocho(胡蝶), "a butterfly" (spring)
As for the butterfly, its time stops for a while. It doesn't seem to care
about such a sudden disaster as when someone's starting to strike the bell, which
can possibly fall on it sooner or later, which is hinted by Mr. Takahashi and Prof. Ogata.The temple bell is big enough, but the Poet stares fixedly at the little butterfly sleeping on it and feels how transcendental
is the existence of all living things. The Haiku is a beautiful poem, where a big bell and a small butterfly well balance
I easily picture both without feeling any anxiety. In reality, butterflies
are very sensitive to small sounds, and equally tolerable to big ones.
They won’t easily die from tremendously big sounds of a huge temple bell.
26.妹が垣ね 三味線草の 花咲ぬ
(Imo ga kakine samisen
gusa no hana saki nu)
Season word: samisen gusa(三味線草), “a shepherd's purse / a mother's-heart”(spring)
It's one of the seven spring herbs in Japan,
white small flowers in spring, and appears on literature. Its flowers associate Japanese people
with a pick or plectrum used in playing the musical instrument, 'samisen' and the herb has been called a 'samisen'
gusa(herb) or 'nazuna'. But it seems that the herb has little to do with literary writings or
human feelings in England.
OED quotes five books on 'shepherds purse'.These excerpts are not poetic, but rather explanatory expressions on
shepherds purse itself.
One of them goes:
The Haiku has a prefatory note. It goes:
|| 'In English it is called Shepherds purse or Scrip, from the likeness the
Seed hath with that kind of leather bag, wherein Shepherds carry their Victuals into
the field.' － W. Coles:
Adam in Eden xxxv.71
*scrip=a small bag or pouch, as carried by a pilgrim, shepherd, or beggar
*victuals=food or provisions
prefatory note derives from a historical event in old
China. In the Haiku the Poet replaces a 'koto' with a 'samisen'.
|| 'Putting the love for the woman into the beautiful notes
of a koto, he tries to get the beauty'. ('Kinshin wo motte bijin ni idomu':琴心挑美人).
(translated by hokuto77)
Prof. Tsutomu Ogata comments that 'he' may have walked by her house very often, hoping to see her; but probably in vain . Anyway, so much time has passed and shepherds' purses are now blooming in the hedge of her house. Little as they are, they look
so fresh and vivid. For so much waste of dear time, the white flowers may
give him a new hope and he will surely regain strength and try his best
to win her heart. Mr.
Takahashi says that we associate a white little flower with a pretty beloved girl. 'He' in the Haiku is not necessarily the Poet himself. Here is clearly read a man's strong devoted love for the girl in his heart.
||The track suddenly ended;
There found in profusion
Java water dropwort.
27.これきりに 小道つきたり 芹の中
kirini komichi tsuki tari seri no naka)
Season word: seri(芹),"Java
water dropwort (one of the seven spring herbs)"(spring)
The Poet has strolled along a pass on a
spring day. At the end of the pass the sudden appearance of Java
water dropwort has brought him into the prime of spring. The encounter is accidental. The aim of his wandering is not
to pick Java water
The sudden end of the pass and the sudden appearance of the herbs, both
give him the more pleasure of rambling in spring fields, or, as Prof. Ogata suggests, he would feel nostalgic for the place where he grew up. The delight taken by the Poet centuries ago will be shared forever, so long asevery one of us try our best to get over the earth's eco crisis and curb the progress of global warming.
○If I can contrast the Haiku with Henry David Thoreau’s description of nature in which he led a nature-respecting life in the
woods of Walden, the effect will be more exciting. I'll try my best to realize it, though
it will be far off to reach.
28.よもすすがら 音なき雨の 種俵
(Yomo sugara oto naki
ame no tanedawara)
Season word: tanedawara(種俵),"a straw seed
Tanedawara(種俵) is a straw bag
with seed rice in it. It is soaked in a well or pond dug beside the rice nursery for seed rice to shoot. The well or pond is called 'Tanai' or 'Tanei'.
They set straw seed rice-bags in the pond.
The rain began to fall toward evening and it has been falling all night. The silence of night attracts their
attention to the rainfall and the rain, in return, lets them have high expectations of seed
rice shooting as they wish. The Poet knows well the way farmers feel, and through
listening to the rainfall, he himself is breathing in concert with farmers. It will present him with something beneficial to mind.
29. つゝじ咲いて 石移したる うれしさよ
saite ishi utsushi taru ureshi sayo)
Season word: tsutsuji(つゝじ),"an
Stone(ishi･石) shaped by nature, as well as
water, running or staying, plays an important role in the beauty of an artificial Japanese garden.
stone was already moved beside the azalea
before its blooming. It was done by the Poet’s direction in anticipation of increasing effect on the beauty of the
small corner of the garden scenery. Once it blooms, the Poet is blessed with the great Nature, who has recompensed him for his activities of loving her by setting off both the azaleas and the stone to advantage.
|30.大文字や 谿間のつゝじ 燃んとす
(Daimonji ya tanima no tsutsuji moen tosu)
word: tsutsuji(つゝじ),"an azalea" (spring)
(1)The Haiku has a Chinese poem as a prefatory note. The poem was composed
by Toho(杜甫)(712-770) in ancient China. The note goes:
(Irie wa midorini tori iyoiyo
shiroshi)(Yama wa aoku hana moento
The lake is azure and birds over it are all
The mountain is
blue and blossoms against it are going to
| (Translated by hokuto77)
(『Haika zenshu』, Yosa Buson shu
ni,「konoku wa, Sambongi no suiro ni agari, Higashi
yama no shakei ni taishite 」to fuki
Prof. Ogata comments the Poet saw the slope from a Japanese-style restaurant in the lofty Building on the Kamogawa River.
||In the collection of Yosa Buson’s poems complied in “The Collection of
Haiku Poets”, the Poet adds his explanation as follows:
The Haiku was produced when I entered a lofty building at Sambongi on the Kamogawa River and stood opposite the scenery of the mid-slope of
(Translated by hokuto77)
Daimonji(大文字) means the West
Peak of Mt.Nyoiga dake(如意ｹ岳), which
is called Daimonji Yama. The mountain is located in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City. On the night of August 16th, halfway up Daimonji Yama, the Chinese character '大' (great) is written in a big
fire. The fire is named 'the fire of Daimonji' (Daimonji no hi･大文字の火).
People say they have a most clear view of ‘the fire of Daimonji’, from the bank of the Kamogawa River, on and around Kojin Bridge. Judging from his additional explanation to the Haiku, the lofty building where he composed the Haiku might have been located near Kojin Bridge.
scenery is large-scale with a sharp contrast. Azaleas
are just ablaze with the setting sun, as if going to flame. To the Poet, they just look like the fire of Daimonji , when he is opposite the mid-slope of Mt. Higashimaya, the blue slope of which shines more clearly in the distance.
The Poet sees, in his mind, ‘ the
fire of Daimonji at night’,
in ‘flaming azaleas against the blue mid-slope’. He, a fine artist, admires the two scenes
as much as he likes. It seems to me, hokuto77, that the color of flaming azaleas in the Haiku can be exclusive.
|31.椿折りて きのふの雨を こぼしけり
(Tsubaki ori te kino no ame wo koboshi keri)
Season word: tsubaki(椿),"camellia" (spring)
A small fraction of the workings of nature was destroyed by a thoughtless
And the inconsiderate behavior was due to the fond love of nature that
the Poet was unable to throw away. Camellias are such blossoms as to lose their lives
through man's heartless passing whim. But he greatly regrets his cold impulse, on seeing the rain which fell yesterday flow out of damaged camellias.
What I note here is that his interest has shifted from the camellia to yesterday's rain. Breaking off
a sprig of camellias has suddenly reminded him of the rain. He is much disappointed that the rain came out of the blossoms by his carelessness. This shows that he is greatly attached to the rain. He wants it to stay long in flowers. Something unusual must have happened
to him yesterday, but it's not clear whether it was caused by the rain or not.
Vague as it is, it stirs up our imagination. I quite agree with Mr. Takahashi's point about this.
|32.わりなしや つばめ巣つくる 塔の前
(Warinashi ya tsubame
su tsukuru to no mae)
Season word: tsubame(つばめ),"a swallow" (spring)
The expression,'わりなしや','nothing can be done to stop their building a nest' or 'unavoidable!', intimates the deep affection toward swallows, and a Zen attitude of accepting nature as it is. You clealry see the similar tender love for a bird which builds
a nest near a man's residence in Macbeth Act1-vi: 'This guest of summer' (=martlet =bird of swallow family, esp. house-martin)
is equivalent to the season word, a swallow. Here I quote from it.
Now I digress a little from the subject:
castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
Nimbly and sweetly recommends
Unto our gentle senses.
guest of summer
The temple-haunting martlet, does approve
By his loved mansionry that the heaven's breath
Smells wooingly here; no jutty, frieze,
Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird
Hath made his pendent bed and procreant cradle;
Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed
The air is delicate.
Notes on words and constructions by hokuto77 :
seat=situation, site nimbly=briskly(=actively, lively)
recommend=make itself agreeable gentle=soothed (by the
brisk and sweet air) martlet=bird of swallow family,
esp. house-m artin approve=prove, confirm,
jutty=projecting part of a wall or building buttress=a stone
or brick structure that supports a wall
coign of vantage=corner or position convenient for observation
or action pendent=pendant=hanging
procreant=for the purpose of producing children
*(There is) no jutty, frieze, buttress, nor coign of vantage,
but this bird--- but=where---not ~
In the quoted scene the contrast sharply stands out between the dark intention of Macbeth and
Lady Macbeth to murder Duncan, and the pure and clean atmosphere surrounding the castle Both live. Moreover, the innocent working of martlet (house-martin) brings their
evil plot against Duncan into greater prominence. Duncan and Banquo are dramatically characterized as tender-hearted by their praising the
sweet air and a diligent, innocent martlet. The scene is a most impressive
No whale swimming up near,
It's getting dark on the sea.
|33. 菜の花や 鯨もよらず 海くれぬ
(Nanohana ya kujira
mo yorazu umi kurenu)
Season word: nanohana(菜の花),"rape
In the Edo period(1603-1868) whales swam up near to the seashore of Japan and it was not rare to see the spouting of a whale a little away from the seaside.
extend themselves to the sea, as if to control the universe around the Poet . The sun is setting and the shades of twilight are settling on the sea. He thinks it lucky that no accident has happened today, while he feels somewhat dissatisfied with the fact that his subconscious expectation not having come true. I don’t think it better
to suppose the realization, though, in fact, a whale was seen spouting
far out at sea. It seldom , if ever, swam up near to the seaside. As it was, a whale was quite out of view. Then the Poet made
an imaginative leap and he associated the leap with the absence of a whale. It makes little difference whether the Poet saw a real whale or not. What matters is, the subjective element of the Haiku pleasantly leads us into his world of imagery.
||Expanse of rape blossoms;
The moon in the east,
The sun in the west.
|34.なの花や 月は東に 日は西に
(Nanohana ya tsuki wa
higashi ni hi wa nishi ni)
Season word: nanohana(菜の花),"rape
*Kito's (几董) notes read as follows:
(haruno nagaihi no oyoso, nanatsu jibun to sadame,
tokagoro to mite, tsuki mo hiruno uchikara detearu wo mita tokoro ga, ichimen ni natane
nohanazakari de, hokani monomo naki keshiki nari)
*According to Prof. Ogata’s notes, parallels to the Haiku are seen in the works of To-enmei(陶淵明)(365-427), Ri-haku(李白)(701-762), Kakinomoto-hitomaro(柿本人麿)(66-720) etc.
|| "On the 23rd of March on the lunar calendar the Haiku was improvised. We had supposed it would be about four o'clock p.m. in a long day of spring
and that the phenomenon would happen around the 10th day of the month.
The moon was already seen in the daytime and there was seen a vast sea
of rape blossoms and it looked as though there was nothing to be seen all around.” (Translated by hokuto77)
The Haiku, well known to most Japanese elderly people, is one of the leading poems by Buson .I think the value of the Haiku lies
in that "the Poet is deeply moved by the grandeur of Nature at one time of a spring day, and rape blossoms, the moon, and the sun are all focused simultaneously in his field of vision. The scene in the Haiku is a comprehensive view. We see
the three of them in their proper perspective, “according to our own preference.” But, here a question arises; the
scene in the Haiku is rarely seen in reality. The probability may be next to zero, of seeing the actual scene of the
kind, the sun in the west and the moon in the east, just in symmetry. It was probably impossible for the Poet to actually see such a scene in his life. Prof. Tsutomu Ogata comments that it was evening around the 15th of the month on the lunar calendar. Probably the Poet saw either the moon or the sun, and even though both were seen at the same time, I suppose they were not hanging separately, well balanced on the canvas of his field of vision ━ one in the east and the other in the west just in symmetry, without either of which being higher
We readers can't help but admit the Poet developed his poetic
image in creating the Haiku and accept his sophisticated imagination, which, as a successful result, has turned out to be timeless and universal as well.
Digression (out of place):
outset of the above Impression, I’ve told you the Haiku is
well known to most Japanese
elderly people. The point of the
digression is why I have to restrict Buson’s popularity in Japan to ‘elderly’ people. I wanted to have referred to the Japanese as a whole, regardless of their ages. In this respect, I am filled with some righteous
indignation against such an unfavorable situation. Where and to whom should I complain about this?
Years ago, Japanese kids were sure to come across some famous haiku composed by Buson, to say nothing of Basho in their school text books. Those who learned,
at school, in their teens, about haiku poets and their masterpieces emotionally,
respond to haiku anthology and suddenly feel a pure wave of nostalgia for their school days.
To my bitter regret, today, some text books on
the Japanese language even in high school, have no space for Buson’s haiku in them.
Consequently, some of young people have already left and will graduate from high school without
appreciating any haiku of Buson. Jumping to conclusion, it's evident that haiku poems are not highly valued
in the Japanese language and classical education. Today, as you know, haiku is favored world-wide and created one day after another by lots of people abroad, while Japan, on whose soil haiku poetry originated, does not seem to attach much importance to it in her school education. To think things seriously, I stay completely bewildered for a while.
Even though I had
nothing to do with translations of Buson, I would be in the similar state of mind at the threatening reality.
The reason for my worry and disappointment may be beyond your comprehension. The one clue to catching at it can be, I do not perceive any democratic passion, in its true sense of the word, when I hear authoritative statements persuade common people how important it is to stress Japanese traditional culture in schooling. I feel rather dubious about such stereotyped and formal statements. As you read in ‘Preface’, what lies at
the root of Buson’s haiku is ‘deep love and respect of Nature’ and ‘profound, warm human love’. He produced a lot of haiku in praise of common people living in harmony
with Nature. He warmly watched individuals in their daily lives, one by one. In short,
I believe his haiku are quite incompatible
with totalitarian ways of thinking and government policy based on them. I'm so sorry to be always alert to something like extreme nationalism, although it might sound to you a little exaggerated.
Dear visitors, thank you ever so much for your reading through my forewarned
and preventive complaint.
|35.なのはなや 昼一しきり 海の音
(Nanohana ya hiru
hitoshikiri umi no oto)
Season word: nanohana(なのはな),"rape
means by the expression 'for a time' that, as the sun slowly sails westward, the sound of waves will grow weaker. With which, naturally the whole landscape, including vast rape fields
in the daylight, as Prof. Ogata says, gradually changes. But at this time the deep, loud sounds of the
sea repeatedly penetrate the vast fields of rape blossoms basking in the spring daylight and he cannot posibly stop it. Prof.
Ogata comments in the Haiku the sound of waves plays a decisive role. What attracts me most to the Haiku is, the Poet is absorbed in the daytime on the seashore decorated with rape
fields, and that he is deep in meditation only with the continuous deep sound of the waves in his mind.
||Tilling the field ━
Clouds, though floating still,
Have disappeared unobserved.
|36. 畑うつや うごかぬ雲も なくなりぬ
(Hata utsu ya ugokanu
kumo mo nakunari nu)
Season word: hata utsu(畑うつ),"tilling (the field) / plowing (the field)" (spring)
There is not a stir of wind in the air. Clouds are floating motionless
in the sky. It'is neither hot nor cold, a perfect day for
tilling the field. Just halfway though or at the finish of the work, farmers noticed no clouds were left to be seen. The
disappearance of clouds on a still day clearly hints the long lapse of
time in plowing the field. Mr. Takahashi indicates that the Poet tells us the passage
of time by the clear description of a change in the scene. It
takes farmers time and energy to cultivate fields,
but it may give them a real sense of fulfillment, if they have satisfactorily brought it to an end.
So deep is the Poet's sympathy and compassion for them that he expresses his warm feelings towards them by means of the psychological effect of a simple simile on those common readers
who are not engaged in farming..
||Those tilling fields!
The evening bell
of our village
37. 畑打よ こちの在所の 鐘が鳴る
(Hatauchi yo kochi no
zaisho no kane ga naru)
Season word: hatauchi(畑打),"tilling the field / plowing
The sound of the evening bell, announcing
the hour, is the one to give farmers solace and the enticement to rest. It has taken lots of time to till the field and the bell is
sounding in the evening air as pleasing as if to relieve bodily fatigues of farmers accumulated in the field. Mr. Takahashi says that, by adopting the sound of the bell into the Haiku, the Poet expresses extremely well the slow passage of time on a spring day. Surely sounds of the evening bell do not make us aware of any sense of swiftness, especially on farmland.
Haiku leads us to the famous painting 'The Angelus' by J. F. Millet (1814-1875). Listening to the evening bell of the temple, farmers will
have a deep feeling of satisfaction and thanks to Nautre after the completion of a
day's hard work in the field. It seems to me that such a life is the Poet's inmost desire.
||Taking off'Eboshi', he measures
With it as a square wooden cup,
Falling cherry blossoms!
38.烏帽子脱いで 升よとはかる 落花哉
(Eboshi nuide masu yo to hakaru rakka kana)
word: rakka(落花),"falling cherry blossoms" (spring)
*'Eboshi'(烏帽子) is a type of headgear worn by a noble in casual court dress.
*'Masu'(升 ) is a square wooden cup for measuring, of different capacities. Usually,
a 0.18-liter cup or a 1.8-liter cup is used, for either liquid or solid
Cherry blossoms are falling thick just like a major snowstorm is blowing.Here
and there they are enjoying a flower-viewing basket party. Fascinated by the cherry blossoms and under the influence of liquor, a noble has drowned himself in falling blossoms. We are delighted with a flash of humor shown in a drunken action of the noble who measures cherry blossoms with his
own Eboshi, crying ‘a hatful of blossoms’, ‘two hatfuls of blossoms’, or the like,
as though his Eboshi were a wooden cup. The Poet fancies that he himself
is identical with the drunk noble, whether he is a real figure or a witty being in his imagination.
||Flower-viewing until dusk;
Alas, a long way home!
Path across a field.
39.花にくれて 我家遠き 野道哉
(Hana ni kure te wagaya toki nomichi
Season word: hana(花), cherry blossoms" (spring)
The Poet has enjoyed flower-viewing all day long. While viewing cherry blossoms, intoxicated with their beauty, he suddenly realizes that time flies, the afterglow already gathering darkness.
He is now somewhat weary of viewing and regrets having forgotten the spot is a long way from home. By ruminating over a day's flower-viewing on his way home, he will divert a sense of heaviness away from treading wearily along the distance
with thickening dusk around him. In a sort of ennui expressed in the Haiku I read a man's availing himself of the blessings
of great Nature.
||Oh, good, the smell of cherry blossoms!
When the lamps at Saga
Are put out.
|40.花の香や 嵯峨の燈火 きゆる時
(Hana no ka ya saga no
tomosibi kiyuru toki)
Season word: hana(花),"cherry blossoms" (spring)
*'Saga(嵯峨)' is the place name of Sakyo Ward that is
located in the north- west corner of Kyoto City. The region is a beauty spot well known for its beautiful cherry blossoms and autumnal foliage, with Arashi Yama Hill as the central figure.
*On the second of March in the old
lunar calendar in 1777, Buson wrote to his disciple, Kito(几董), that the Haiku was a
failure, so he
had decided to change the expression to the following phrase that "when the oil lamps
at Saga is extinguished" (Saga no aburabi kiyuru toki).
The Poet, ternder-hearted, regarded with
gentlenessd cherry blossoms which, he felt, smelled sweetest when the lamps that had been lighting up them since the sunset
were extinguished and a crowd of cherry blossom viewers left the spot. And as I
read the Haiku more deeply, I realize the satisfaction
with which he viewed cherry blossoms to his heart’s content turns ironically into a feeling of despondency about the way of creation through the sweet scents of dear blossoms.
41.花に来て 花にいねぶる いとまかな
(Hana ni kite hana ni
ineburu itoma kana)
Season word: hana(花),"cherry
In spring, time in everyone passes very
slowly. Seeing a person sleeping under cherry blossoms, the Poet realizes he himself too is enjoying his spare time fully. Here I see cherry blossoms exist in their daily lives and play important roles there.
42.花ちるや 重たき笈の うしろより
chiru ya omotaki oi no ushiro yori)
Season word: hana chiru(花ちる),"cherry blossoms fall" (spring)
'Oi'(笈) is a wooden box
with short four legs at the bottom and sliding doors in front, which was carried on the back of a monk on pilgrimage, or of a mountain ascetic. They carried in the box Buddhist altar articles, their
clothes and dishes.The wooden box loaded with various articles must have been fairly weighty.
Poet feels cherry blossoms falling on and around him from behind. He stops and thanks the blossoms for the relief from the fatigue accumulated by a pilgrimage with his
'oi', or a
wooden box heavily loaded on his back.
The expression, ‘Omotaki’(heavy) in the Haiku indicates that he has walked all day, 'oi' on his back and the sun is now setting. It’s doubtful whether or not the Poet was conscious of the haiku by Basho when he
produced it, but I remember it when I read the Haiku. The haiku by Basho goes:
“くたぶれて 宿かるころや 藤の花”
(kutaburete yado karu koro ya fuji no hana)
And seeking a lodging for the night
These wisteria flowers!
(Translated by R.H. Blyth)
I can clearly and variously depict the scenes in my mind where cherry blossoms occupy an important presence in the lives of common people. They do not bloom just for people to view and enjoy. As I’ve said in the last Impression, No.41, in the spring time they are indispensable to the lives of common people both in their minds and hearts.
||Cherry blossoms have fallen;
The house in the hills
Stands as before.
|43.花散りて もとの山家と 成に鳧
(Hana chiri te moto no
sanka to narini keri)
Season word: hanachiru(花散る),"cherry blossoms fall" (spring)
The Poet plainly tells us about the two different scenes contrasted by the passage of time.
One scene was a great crowd seeing cherry blossoms at a house on the hills. The other is now a deep stillness after their having fallen. What a striking
distinction between the two! The Poet shows readers the uncertainty of seasonal changes, not the lonely atmosphere of the house with its fallen cherry blossoms.
We have a haiku by the
Poet, which is virtually the same as this one in rhythm and tenor.
花散りて 木の間の寺と なりにけり
(Hana chiri te konoma no tera to narini keri )
||The cherry-blossoms having fallen,
The temple belongs
To the branches.
|(Translated by R. H. Blyth)
||The spring rain!
Go together talking
A straw raincoat
and an umbrella.
|44.春雨や ものがたりゆく 蓑と傘
(Harusame ya mongatari
yuku mino to kasa)
Season word: harusame(春雨),"spring rain" (spring)
In the rain, a man used to wear a straw
raincoat, while a woman walked under an umbrella like today. The two are walking deep in conversation, wrapped
in the gentleness of the spring rain. Here the spring rain is not depressing, nor an object of detestation. It is accepted as a rather desirable gift from Nature. The Poet recognizes the spring rain has brought about the conversation and some relationship between the two people, who gradually merge into the rain itself. From the scene, there arises a certain fantasy world, which may be beyond description. The Poet loves the spring itself working as an essential part of human life. It can be safely said that the Haiku is one of his best poems.
It's getting dark;
Today I am as I should be.
It’s getting dark;
Today drawing to a close as usual.
| Next haikyu☞
45.春雨や 暮なんとして けふも有
(Harusame ya kure nan to shite kyo mo ari)
Season word: harusame(春雨),"spring rain"
As to the last five words, 「けふも有」 (kyo mo
ari), the Poet wrote to one of his acquaintances over haiku, 士朗(shiro)(1742-1812), 「今日も有」の字、下得たりと存候 (kyo mo ari no ji, kudashi etari to zonji soro.) [The expression, ‘Today I am as I should be.’, I think I got it finally.] (Translated by hokuto77)
It has been raining for days on end. The Poet notices it's getting dark today just like yesterday, and he remembers so was the day before yesterday. He has had enough spring rain, 6 day in day out. He does not go against the slow passage of spring rain but he is lost in it, which soaks into the depth of his heart and finally settles there. To me it feels as though the wet spell
arouses his plaintive sadness for the coming of departing time of his dearest spring time. The last five words「けふも有」(kyo mo ari) , 'Today drawing to a close as usual.' evokes in me his strong sense of existence, that is, he thinks deeply that today he is as he should be, and feels a surge of relief and happiness. I got two different types of translation.
[46A] Unexptected pleasing Addition:
Unexpectedly you have a pleasing addition of ‘spring rain’ by the Poet. I happened to read it in Vox Populi, Vox Dei on the Asahi Shimbun both in the vernacular and in English Website edition. It’s about a haiku by Buson.
"---" I am reminded of this haiku by Yosa Buson in the 18th century:
Smoke seeps out of the walls
Of someone's home.
*seep(v)=flow slowly and in small quantities through something or into something
*It's a simple and excellent translation with the alliteration of smooth s sound. (by hokuto77)
In a humble mountain cottage, someone is burning grass shavings. The smoke curls out
of cracks in the walls, wafting out into misty rain falling onto young green buds. This is superb haiku, echoing a similar mood to that evoked by Bocho's poem, and is as visually descriptive as a painting. “---”. End quote.
*Bocho=Yamamura Bocho[山村 暮鳥](1884 -1924), a poet and
The original in Japanese goes:
春雨や 人住ミてけぶり 壁を洩る
(Harusame ya hito
sumite keburi kabe wo moru) [5-8-5 hypermetric]
Now, readers, let’s look through the comment by the late Prof. Tsutomu Ogata. He says: Spring rain is falling on a deserted house,(neighors around believe so), which looks as if haunted, and smoke is thinly curling upwards out of the walls. There seems to be somebody
dwelling in it. The spring rain tells us of the peaceful atmosphere of
human habitation. [*Parenthetical italics inserted by hokuto77.]
(Translated by hokuto77)
(Bakemono yashiki no yona haioku wo harusame ga nurashi, ussurato kabekara
kemuri ga moreteiru. Doyara hitoga sunde irurashi. Harusame ga hitono sumu
heiwana kanji wo tsutaete iru.)
Someone living there！
Smoke leaks from the walls. [Translated by hokuto77]
|next haiku ➘
Season word: harusame(春雨),"spring
「五車反古」「句集」に「西の京にばけもの栖て久しく荒れはてたる家ありけり。今はそのさたなくて」の前書。 ('goshahogo' 'kushu' ni 「nishi no kyo niwa, bakemono sumi te hisashiku arehate taru ie ari keri. Ima wa, sono sata nakute」to maegaki)
In the preface of ‘Five cartloads of books as Wastepaper’ and ‘Haiku Collection’
the Poet wrote that once in the Western Capital a house enchanted for a long time
was utterly ruined and that now he hasn’t heard anything of it. (Translated by
It’s tough for us to talk about spring rain in Buson without man or their ordinary lives deeply involved in it. The key word in the Haiku is Smoke in the rain that is drifting upwards through cracked walls of the house. The scene surprised the Poet. The reason is the house or cottage stood so ruined that it was often
rumored to be haunted. He was much relieved to realize the ruined house was man-inhabited, not possessed
of an evil spirit or devil. Naturally the smoke led the Poet to the expression “hitosumite:人住ミて━ someone is living there”.
The old saying: “No smoke without fire” indicates, fire is made by man only. If smoke comes out of the old walls,
it’s unnecessary to take the trouble to say ‘somebody is living there.’
But for the Poet, the expression was indispensable to the Haiku. Then, the phrase plays the second important role in the Haiku.
Aside from the comment with no focus, the smoke together with an old house
gives him some relief and warmth that overlaps with those of spring. On the surface, the Haiku is very plain and paints a picture in our minds
but it is not just a sketch of spring scenery in the rain. It can’t be
brushed aside. It has depth in his imagery. It has the world of Buson where Nature and humans are clearly depicted in harmony.
My localized cancer in sigmoid colon, which was accidentally detected through
colonscope, was very stubborn and it wouldn’t go upwards, though my doctor did his
best many a time by injecting physiological solution (seiri
shokuen sui) into it. Quite astounded at the obstinacy, I thought the cancer found
the place where it was generated too comfortable to go away. Later its
sticking to the place was ascertained in a fortunate mode.
last time, in late November, 2009, he resolutely attempted to snare and burn it
off with his electric scalpel, but in vain. As we had arranged beforehand, he
cauterized the unyielding malignant tumor. After the treatment, he showed me the images of the thing before and after cauterization. Three months later, February, 2010, he
did a biopsy of that cauterized part and to my surprise, the result was the part biopsied is quite normal. The doctor supposed
that if he had chosen another part, for a biopsy, it might have turned
out otherwise. I was psychologically forced to agree with him on the point.
I was so lucky, in a sense, that during that time, about a year, the cancer
did not metastasize anywhere, which was confirmed through diagnostic imaging with CT scan, MRI, and PET. It
became clear that my tumor remained a mucosal
cancer in the same wall of sigmoid colon that it was produced.
We’ve decided to have another colonoscopy and biopsy on August 26, 2010.
What’s certain is, for the time being, I can continue usual daily lives
intent on studying Buson and working aesthetic peasant a little cautiously.
Readers, please allow me to introduce to you a haiku of my own composing.
春霞 肺炎の老母 黄泉語る ━ by hokuto77
(Harugasumi haien no haha yomi kataru)
Old Mother, attacked by neumonia,
Talks about the Pure
Land in the West.
[Usually, 黄泉（yomi）literally means Hades. But I dare to describe it as the Pure Land in the West (西方浄土), from the expression on her face when she looked westwards.]
My mother, 101 years and 5 months old, has been suffering from a serious
lung condition. It was suddenly brought to light that she had been attacked by bacterial
pneumonia, but how she
contracted the disease has yet to be known. Doctors say it may be due to her advanced age.
I told her, by writing, it will take time to kill bacteria in her artery.
The next morning, to my surprise, she told me she won’t live long, at longest
for a few years, even though the bacteria are killed perfectly and added
that if she should die here in the hospital and be burnt to ashes, those
bacteria you spoke of will die with her and return to earth with her body,
so you don’t have to worry about it. Then with a faint smile on her wrinkled,
dry face she looked westward out of the window of a four-bed ward and murmured
that it’s hazy.
Surely the weather was fine but hazy with yellow sand from the Chinese Continent. In a little while the haiku came gradually into my mind.I know much that I need to polish it a great deal
till it gets poetic value.
|(In early March, 2010, by hokuto77)
Spring rain falls,
On a small shell on a small beach,
Just enough to get it wet.
47.春雨や 小磯の小貝 ぬるゝほど
koiso no kogai nururu hodo)
Season word: harusame(春雨),"spring rain" (spring)
*In general, clams on the sands of the seashore are dead and living
ones are mostly in the wet sand or in the water. What we see on a beach is empty
hard covers of clams. A shell in the Haiku is figuratively used and it must
interpreted as a living one, a clam. It's very rare that living clams are on the sands,
rain or shine, during all seasons.
*Here the expression━‘to get wet a small shell ’ indicates only a small amount of spring rainfall. Moreover, in the original inJapanese, the two K’s in ‘koiso no kogai’ alliterate
Mr. Takahashi comments that refined eroticism is aroused, though vaguely, both by a small wet clam and the whole atmosphere of the Haiku. I quite agree with him on the refined eroticism.
On reading the Haiku, I was impressed with its faint eroticism. The Poet observes the spring rain carefully and the picture in his mind gets reinforced more and more clearly. It makes no difference at all whether he saw clams on the shore in the rain or not: the rain soaked into clams in the sand. With the rain the Poet felt strong empathy.
expresses, above the mere depiction of spring scenery in the rain, something deep that lies in what human eyes see. This is not a mere descriptive
poem but lyrical poetry revealing the Poet’s real emotion. I think he is one of the most pre-eminent lyrical poets.We must take care never to restrict his uncanny ability
to display poetic imagination only to
close observations on little things.
48.春の海 終日のたり ゝかな
(Haruno umi hinemosu notari notari kana)
Season word: haruno umi(春の海),"spring sea" (spring)
*The Haiku has a prefatory
note. It goes: 'At the seashore of Suma' (須磨の浦にて:sumano ura nite).
*It was created in his middle forties, or under the age of 47. It rates
as one of his most notable haiku poems. Miyake Shozan(三宅嘯山)(1718~1810) commented the Haiku is "heitan nishite itsu"(平淡而逸), which means the Haiku is “simple and superb”.
*The Poet wrote, on January 18, 1775, to one of his disciples, Baho(馬圃), later named Kafu (霞夫)
(1749-1784) of his opinion on composing haiku. Based on his letter, I introduce the outline of his view. It goes:
It is not only out of the question and very evil as well to astonish people
by using in haiku archaic words and historical usages or customary idioms of old. We must do our best not to
adopt such words and phrases, and what is crucial is to compose our haiku by using words and idioms ordinarily and usually spoken
or written today.
If a person who often uses archaic words and
historical usages is regarded as an expert of creating good haiku, it follows that all of the well informed
persons write excellent haiku.
hosomichi’(奥の細道) (The Narrow Road to the Deep North), which was written by the venerable Basho(1644~1694), is quite free from tasteless, unpleasant style caused by modeling the poetical style
typical of Man’yoshu,(万葉集), (Collection of Ten thousands Leaves) and so is ‘Ruikoji’ (類柑子), the posthumous collection of haiku composed by Kikaku(其角)(1661~1707), one of Basho’s best disciples. Haikai poetry(俳諧) or haiku has its own style, which you must reflect deeply. As you see in the following three haikus, what matters most is to compose in a
well balanced way without any
(Colored italics by hokuto77 as a supplementary explanation)
||l.花の雲 鐘は上野か 浅草か（芭蕉）
(Hana no kumo kane wa ueno ka
asakusa ka) (Basho)
||A cloud of cherry blossoms;
The temple bell, ━
Is it Ueno, is it
|(Translated by R. H. Blyth)
||2.いな妻や きのふは東 けふは西（其角)
(Inazuma ya kino wa
higashi kyo wa nishi) (Kikaku)
Yesterday in the East,
Today in the West.
(Translated by R. H. Blyth)
||3. Above-mentioned Haiku by the Poet.
||The sea of spring,
All the day long.
|(Translated by R. H. Blyth)
Of the Haiku, I introduce the comment made by R. H. Blyth(1898~1964), which goes:
"All agree in praising this verse as one of Buson’s best haiku, expressing our feelings by the spring sea and the nature of the spring sea without leaning either to the subjective, or to the objective. But there is a surprising disagreement as to what the verse particularly refers to. Shiki(1867~1902) says that notari notari describes the light waves that fall on the sand of the shore. Kyoshi(1874~1959) says it refers to the leaving waves of the deep water far away from the
shore. Hekigodo(1873~1937) says that it expresses the whole scene of the spring sea. If we compare the last two lines of The Lord Byron’s(1788-1824) Stanza for Music, we get some idea of the onomatopoeic power of Buson’s verse:"
With a full but soft emotion
Like the swell
of Summer’s ocean.
*the verse i.e. the Haiku *onomatopoeic=imitative in sound (By hokuto77)
On a serene spring day nothing moves but the gentle rise and fall of the
sea. The Poet imagines the sea is 'in the sequence of things eternal.' The essence of expression, in familiar, unpretentious
language, all possible decorations deleted, helps the Haiku let our imagination run riot. Here we readers feel the eternity of the
universe and the deep solitude of our existence.
I was in the train; no
rushing express, such as bears you great distances: the sober train which goes to no place of importance, which lets you see
the white steam of the engine
float and fall upon a meadow ere you pass.
Thanks to a good and wise father, we
youngsters saw nothing of seaside places where crowds assemble; I am speaking, too, of a time more than forty years
ago, when it was still possible to find on the coasts of northern England, east
or west, spots known only to those who loved the shore for its beauty and its solitude.
At every station the train stopped; little
stations, decked with beds of flowers,smelling warm in the sunshine where country-folk got in with baskets, and
talked an unfamiliar dialect, an English which to us sounded almost like a foreign
tongue. Then the first glimpse of the sea; the excitement of noting whether tide
was high or low ━ stretches of sand and weedy pools, or halcyon wavelets frothing at their furthest reach,
under the sea-banks starred with convolvulus.
Of a sudden, our station!
(from 'The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft' by George Gissing 1857-1903)
(Colored and italics by hokuto77)
Words notes by hokuto77:
bear=carry halcyon(adj.)=peaceful, calm
wavelet=a small wave, ripple froth(v)=foam, bubble thickly
reach(n)=scope, compass star(v)=adorn (as) with stars
The season of the quoted passage is a little more advanced than that of
the Haiku. It's summer. But the scene associates us with the slow rising and falling
of the waves in the quietness of the seashore. In the Essay, Gissing confessed that he liked the seashore. Buson loved the sea and the seashore. It is clear that from some of his haiku poems on the sea indicates that Nature is eternal and man is alone in its existence. Gissing 's love of solitude is possible only when he is surrounded by natural beauty. In this respect, it seems to me, both of them share a common feature.
49.枕する 春の流れや みだれ髪
(Makura suru haruno nagare ya midare gami)
Season word: haruno nagare(春の流れ),"the stream of spring" (spring)
aroused by the succession of two unrelated factors ━ 'pillow and stream'. Poetic image is enlarged by the essential difference
betwee the two. It's what Mr. Takahashi argues on the Haiku. To be frank, at first, the Haiku sounds as though a spring stream is used
as a pillow.
The second time we read the Haiku, we get to know its meaning is completed
in the first five words, 'makurasu'(枕する), which means her head pillowed on her arm. This is usually called ‘temakura’(手枕). Then the second meaning starts which means her long hair is disordered by such lazy manners and that it looks
like a spring stream of river in a lukewarm vernal atmosphere.
I find myself lost in a sense of ennui together with a bit of a woman's
charm with a long hair streaming on her arm.
On reading the Haiku, a lot of Japanese people will be reminded of 'Enka' sung by Misora Hibari(1937-1989), called the Songstress of the Showa period (1926~1989). Her Enka songs which, associated with nagare(stream) and midare(disordered), I’ve recalled are "the Disordered Hair" (Midare Gami) and "Like the Streaming of a River" (Kawa no Nnagare no yoni). Both have the similar amorous lines.
50.足よはの わたりて濁る 春の水
(Ashi yowa no watari te nigoru haru no mizu)
Season word: harunomizu(春の水),"spring stream / springtime water" (spring)
The season word, ‘spring stream’ or ‘springtime water’ originally means the gradual rising of water caused by the thaw of snow in the mountains. Needless to
say, vernal rainfall also triggers a little swell of rivers or lakes. In
the Haiku, from the scene of a woman walking across the water, its level
is rather low, shallow. We may say that the Poet is interested in the comfortable passage of springtime and man’s response
rather than in the increasing amount of water in a small narrow stream.
The key is to imagine how white and weak the
legs of a woman reflects in a little warm, clear stream of spring season. Her cautious one step after anothe changes the limpid water into a muddy one. In her careful but adventurous action I feel a sense of play on a lovely day in spring, though she needs to cross
The Poet has humane feelings for both warm water and a delicate, but a bit playful
woman. It leads us to be in comfortable sympathy with the call of spring.
51.命婦より ぼた餅たばす 彼岸哉
(Myobu yori botamochi tabasu higan kana)
Season word: higan(彼岸),"the spring equinox" (spring)
*The Haiku has a preparatory
note. It goes: ‘at a person’s home’.
*'Botamochi' is a rice cake dumpling covered with bean paste. It tastes sweet but in old days, as in the Edo Period(1603-1867), it was so expensive that it was far from easy for common people to cook and enjoy it in
*'Myobu' is a court lady who holds a middle rank. The start is traced as far back
as the Asuka period (AD 6th~710). The myobu in the Haiku was a hostess the Poet called on. She looked so
elegant and refined that he felt as if he was talking to a court lady.
*Before and after ‘the vernal equinox’, as many as seven days running,
Japanese people have observed, from the remote ages, a religious custom,
in which people hold a memorial service for the repose of deceased people
by offering dango or botamochi’ of their own cooking or those given by relatives or good neighbors.
I imagine the awarded botamochi must have been unusually delicious. The spring equinox was a special day both for people in very high places and humble
commoners. It spiritually connects dead persons and living beings.
The myobu(命婦) in the Haiku was, in reality, a hostess whom the Poet visited. In his mind, as above mentioned, she belongs to the Heian period (794~1192) as a court lady. It was both the botamoch he tasted and the refined hostess that helped him wander into his favorite fantasy world. There, as both Prof. Ogata and Mr. Takahashi say, he contrasts or connects the world of court nobles with that of common people through approachable, not spiritual, food. And moreover,
a touch of humor may be read in the Haiku, as Prof. Ogata says
No discrimination will start between the two, court and common, when arises
a humane imagination and warmth in the mind of a poet like Buson. I think what attracted the Poet most strongly was ‘the
spring equinox’ and what it means to us on this side of the grave.
52.雛の燈に いぬきが袂 かかるなり
(Hina no hi ni inuka ga tamoto kakaru nari)
Season word: hina no hi(雛の燈),"lamps of hina dolls" (spring)
"Inuki" is a
young girl, called Inukimi(犬君), who serves
Murasaki, one of the female leading characters in The Tale of Genji (in the Heian Period) (794-1192). In the Tale the girl is so full of curiosity that she sets
free a caed bird and makes Murasaki feel so sad.
A comfortable, homely atmosphere of the Doll's Festival at home aroused
a little girl's strong interest in dolls, just for whose happy future the festival
was held. Academic critics say that the Poet's images are overlapped with an old story of The Tale of Genji and quotes from the classic work. They say that he often quoted from Japanese classic works, such as tanka and haiku poems, essays, novels and even Chinese
classical literature. Here we have to remember what he wrote to his disciple Kafu (霞夫) about the proper style of haikai poems or haiku, which means the style should be as much simple in familiar words as possible, with very few archaic words and historical usages.[To N0.48➭] What the Poet quoted or installed is not superficial but deep rooted in the haiku, playing
its leading role through connoting or including fresh poetic sentiments, along with the originals. He was the last to display his extensive knowledge.
The Haiku tells us what a positive influence a 'hina festival' exerts on
innocent little girls and how greatly it attracts their curiosity. In the Haiku
is expressed the Poet's deep tender feelings towards female children. He loved his daughter, Kuno, the only child, so deeply.
Mommy, first of all,
Should have pinched
The nose of a hina doll!
53.たらちねの '抓'まずありや 雛の鼻
(Tarachine no tsuma mazu
ariya hina no fana)
Season word: hina(雛)," hina dolls" (spring)
*The nose of a baby hina doll is not always well cut or prominent. Japanese children's noses are mostly flat. Mothers want them to be shapely, long, straight and elegant. So often they gently pinch up their children's noses while rearing them.
*'Tarachine' means sometime 'a mother, one's mother', sometime 'a father' and‘one's
parents’. In the Haiku naturally it means a mum or mom.
*‘Tarachine no’ has been used since as early as the 8th century as a stylized epithet
or a pillow word in tanka poems in phrases like ‘tarachine no haha (母)
(mother)’ or ‘tarachine no oya (親) (parents)’.
*The phrase ‘Taracine no tsuma’ in the Haiku means that its mother pinches up (something).
A laughing is excited by the association of mother's way of bringing up
her child through the personification of a baby hina doll: she pinches
up their noses with a prayer in her heart for their getting shapely. Prof. Ogata and Mr. Takahashi comment the meaning of the Haiku is that 'the nose' of the hina doll should have been
pinched up by its mother just like a living mother does.
Joys and sorrows
in daily lives are important sources of haikai poems or haiku. The Poet is skilled in catching and weaving them into haiku, and makes them full
of human touches.
54. 夕雲雀 鎧の袖を かざし哉
(Yu hibari yoroi no sode wo kazahi kana)
Season word: yuhibari(夕雲雀),"evening skylarks" (spring)
Critics say when the Poet composed the Haiku, surely, he remembered fondly a tanka poem.
The tanka goes:
揚がるを見ても 落つる涙は｣ 飯尾常房 (いのお つねふさ)(1422-1485)
(Nareya shiru miyako wa nobe no yu hibari
agaru wo mite mo otsuru namida wa)
||I wonder if thou know,
Over the Capital destroyed to fields,
Even when I see evening skylarks soar up,
My tears fall down. ━ composed by Tsunefusa Inoo.
Here I quote a passage from the Oninki (応仁記), which is the history of the Onin War (1467-1477). It goes:
The Capital, beautiful and prosperous, believed to flourish over eternity,
now has unexpectedly become habitat of foxes and wolves. Even the Toji
Buddhist temple at Kitano (now Kami-kyoku ward, Kyoto City), barely saved
from the fire, is eventually burnt to ashes. Indeed, in the far off days
the rise and fall was the way of the world, but Buddhism and Emperor’s
statute are both wiped out in the mere incidents of the Onin. Various religious sects are all gone. Lamenting over such devastation,
Inoo Rokuhikozamon (Tsunefusa) composed a tanka poem.
[The poem is omitted, as you’ve already read in Background.] (Translated
|| Toji Buddhist temple is now located at Kyujyo cho in Minamiku Ward, Kyoto City.It is designated World Heritage Site.
The image left is the pagoda of Toji, five-storied, highest in Japan.
You can see it from a train window of the Shinkansen.
The image right is a building for the hall used for ritual, instruction
and the reading of the sutras. It was rebuilt in 1491.
On hearing the mounting of a skylark against the setting sun, the Poet shades his eyes with his sleeve and suddenly remembers a 'tanka' poem, as I have mentioned above in Background.
In the tanka, a warrior wearing a suit of armor looked up toward a skylark
in the air,and his eyes filled with tears. In the Haiku the Poet let the sleeve of armor play two roles. One is to screen the eyes from
the evening sunlight and the other is to imply that the man in armor hides
his tears or wipes them away with the sleeve of armor.
I guess the Poet got sentimental with the old tanka poem and felt sympathy for those concerned
with the war, including the tanka poet himself. On the contrary, Mr. Takahashi says the Haiku has a little comical savor. He has personal views about Buson. His interpretation is very unique. Seeing from a different viewpoint, he points out what the essence is. What gives us humor is, he says,the role of armor’s sleeve. He adds the warrior himself might have had a starring part in the destruction of the capital. The contradiction to his tears is another source of humor.
So many readers
are there, so many impressions are. To be on the same Wavelength as that of the Poet, readers need to have some good knowledge of classic tanka poems, haiku
or the like. He will win greater or smaller admiration of his haiku, according to his readers' literary acquirements.
55. 熊谷も 夕日まばゆき 雲雀哉
(Kumagai mo yuuhi mabayuki hibari kana)
"Kumagai Naozane" (1141-1207) was a warrior in the Kamakura period (1192 – 1333). First he served Taira no Tomomori (1152-1185) and after the Genpei War(1180 -1185) he became a subject of Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147 -1199).
On his way away from Kyoto, as a Buddhist priest, he went eastward, riding
a horse backwards. Legend has it that he insisted he dare not possibly to
turn his back toward Kyoto. He must have heard the singing of skylark,
facing the dazzling evening sun.
A skylark in the evening reminded the Poet of the Battles between the Genji and the Heike clans (1180 -1185). There would have been no haiku poetry like this for him without any human beings involved in it.
Strange to say, he created only five poems on skylarks and two of them were associated with
In the Haiku, I feel not only a mental response for the loyal warrior, and something humorous as well and the season word ‘skylark’ has a special weight in the Haiku. The role is heavy. The bird, together with the dazzling sun, once disturbs Kumagai’s thoughts but after all lets him make his decision
firmer. The resolve is to keep his unnatural posture on horseback and lead a priest life perfectly. Sure, here is wry humor.
Digression: (some comparison with skylarks in English literary works.)
A good many English
poems have been composed on skylarks. It means that British people wait long
for the coming of spring every year from of old.
"Henry Ryecroft" by George Gissing (1857-1903) says that, ' How I dreaded the white page I had to foul with ink! Above all, on days such as this, when the blue eyes
of Spring laughed from between rosy clouds, when the sun-light shimmered upon my
table and made me long, long all but to madness, for the scent of the flowering
earth, for the green of hillside larches, for the singing of skylark above the downs. There was a time－it seems further away than childhood－when I took up my pen with eagerness; if
my hand trembled it was with hope.'
*the downs=an area of open land with low hills, esp. in Southern England with few trees and mainly used for pasture (COD+OALD by hokuto77)
Now let's catch a passing glimpse of a scene of King Lear－Act Ⅳ vi;
Edgar: Ten masts at each make
not the altitude
thou hast perpendicularly fell:
life's a miracle. Speak yet again.
Gloucester: But have I fall'n
Edgar:From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
Look up a-height; the shrill-gorged lark so far
Cannot be seen or heard: do but look up.
Gloucester: Alack, I have no eyes.
phrases noted by hokuto77:
*at each=one on top of another
*altitude=height above sea
*this chalky bourn i.e. Dover cliffs
*a-height=on high, aloft (Of position and
*do but look=do only look
As the time of the scene is
autumn, the lark here is not a skylark buta shore-lark which is said to be found around the wintery season on the
eastern shore of England
like Dover. To let Gloucester who is blind guess the height of the cliff, a lark which will soar high is cited as an example.
It is very interesting and pleasant to us
Japanese. I think the instance is quite smart.
Another scene from
Shakespeare is well known. It's the outset of Act Ⅲv in Romeo and Juliet;
Juliet : Wilt thou be
gone? It is not yet near day.
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear;
Nightly she sings on yond pom'granate tree.
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.
Romeo: It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale. Look, love, what envious
lace the severing clouds in yonder east.
phrases noted by hokuto77:
*fearful=full of fear *yond=yonder
*pom'granate tree=pomegranate tree (OED incites
from Otway 'Caius Marius'Ⅳ i. Nightly on yon
Pomegranate-tree she sings.1680)
*lace=mark as with (gold or silver) lace or
embroidery; diversify with streaks of color
*severing=that severs(:put apart, disjoin)(OED)
*According to Evans, 'the severing clouds' stands
for ①the clouds and ②the lovers.
How beautiful the scene is!
And the lark makes a pleasing contrast with the nightingale on our time sense of night and morning. The above two larks in Shakespeare play a rather important pary respectively in the scene, but what is noteworthy is that the role is rather an objective
one, unlike the sentimental in the haiku poems. In other scenes
or works of poetry, skylarks are admired with love and sympathy for them, some
time as a star, some time as if a poet.
Let’s advance a little further in English literature and we will meet with
well known two poems, ‘To a skylark’: One is by William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and the other by P.B. Shelley (1792-1822).
*Dear readers, please give me a little time respite from quoting them with
my notes and comments here on my website. It may be a little tough task. For the time
being, I present you with just the full texts. I think you can enjoy them without
OED, if you will.(By hokuto77)
| To a Skylark
by William Wordsworth
UP with me! up with me into the clouds!
For thy song, Lark, is strong;
Up with me, up with me into the clouds!
With clouds and sky about thee ringing,
Lift me, guide me till I find
That spot which seems so to thy mind!
I have walked through wildernesses dreary
And to-day my heart is weary;
Had I now the wings of a Faery,
Up to thee would I fly.
There is madness about thee, and joy divine
In that song of thine;
Lift me, guide me high and high
To thy banqueting-place in the sky.
Joyous as morning
Thou art laughing and scorning;
Thou hast a nest for thy love and thy rest,
And, though little troubled with sloth,
Drunken Lark! thou would’st be loth
To be such a traveller as I.
Happy, happy Liver,
With a soul as strong as a mountain river
Pouring out praise to the Almighty Giver,
Joy and jollity be with us both!
Alas! my journey, rugged and uneven,
Through prickly moors or dusty ways must wind;
But hearing thee, or others of thy kind,
As full of gladness and as free of heaven,
I, with my fate contented, will plod on,
And hope for higher raptures, when life’s day is done.
| To a Skylark
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
HAIL to thee, blithe spirit!
Bird thou never wert—
That from heaven or near it
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of
unpremeditated art. 5
Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest,
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.10
In the golden light’ning
Of the sunken sun,
O’er which clouds are bright’ning,
Thou dost float and run,
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.15
The pale purple even
Melts around thy flight;
Like a star of heaven,
In the broad daylight
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight— 20
Keen as are the arrows
Of that silver sphere
Whose intense lamp narrows
In the white dawn clear,
Until we hardly see, we feel that it is there. 25
All the earth and air
With thy voice is loud,
As when night is bare,
From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is
What thou art we know not;
What is most like thee?
From rainbow clouds there flow not
Drops so bright to see,
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody:— 35
Like a poet hidden
In the light of thought,
Singing hymns unbidden,
Till the world is wrought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not: 40
Like a high-born maiden
In a palace tower,
Soothing her love-laden
Soul in secret hour
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower:45
Like a glow-worm golden
In a dell of dew,
Its aërial hue
Among the flowers and grass which screen it
from the view: 50
Like a rose embower’d
In its own green leaves,
By warm winds deflower’d,
Till the scent it gives
Makes faint with too much sweet those heavy-wingèd
Sound of vernal showers
On the twinkling grass,
All that ever was
Joyous and clear and fresh—thy music doth surpass. 60
Teach us, sprite or bird,
What sweet thoughts are thine:
I have never heard
Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine. 65
Or triumphal chant,
Match’d with thine would be all
But an empty vaunt—
A thin wherein we feel there is some hidden want. 70
What objects are the fountains
Of thy happy strain?
What fields, or waves, or mountains?
What shapes of sky or plain?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain? 75
With thy clear keen joyance
Languor cannot be:
Shadow of annoyance
Never came near thee:
Thou lovest, but ne’er knew love’s sad satiety. 80
Waking or asleep,
Thou of death must deem
Things more true and deep
Than we mortals dream,
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream? 85
We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of
saddest thought. 90
Yet, if we could scorn
Hate and pride and fear,
If we were things born
Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near. 95
Better than all measures
Of delightful sound,
Better than all treasures
That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground! 100
Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know;
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow,
The world should listen
then, as I am listening now.
56. 藤の花 雲の梯 かゝる也
(Fuji no hana kumo no kake hashi kakaru nari)
Season word: fuji no
hana(藤の花),"wisteria flowers" : (whose color is light purple)
According to COD, wisteria or
wisteria is any climbing plant of the genus Wisteria, with hanging racemes
of blue, purple, or white flowers. OED says that it is native
to N. America, Japan, and China.
To the Poet, wisteria flowers in full bloom looked like light purple-colored clouds trailing long. Prof. Ogata says he must have associated it with Buddha land in the West, or the land of the blessed. Mr. Takahashi says there is a marvelous perspective representation in the Haiku.
I think the point is the imagination the Poet used on viewing wisteria flowersof light purple. They were so brilliant in the evening sun that he felt as if he would cross a
bridge of clouds to the land of the blessed. The Poet, as a painter, pictured, on his imaginary canvas, the three objects in his artistic perspective: wisteria blooms as clouds trailing downwards, and the Buddha land in the West of his own deep religious belief.
57. 藤の茶屋 あやしき夫婦 休けり
(Fuji no chaya ayashiki myoto yasumi keri)
Season word: fuji(藤)," wisteria flowers" (spring)
The teahouse has a trellis of wisteria flowers and they are at their best.
A couple take a rest there. The Poet begins to doubt whether they are an ordinary couple, or of runaway marriage. The doubt may be from an illusion created
by the brilliancy of pale purple wisteria flowers in full bloom.
The expression 'mysterious' or 'doubtful' has a metaphorical
effect to deepen the beauty and charm of the wisteria flowers trailing and strangely it shows his warm sense of humor.
58.水ぬるむ 頃や女の わたし守
(Mizu nurumu koroya onna no watashi mori)
Season word: mizu nurumu(水ぬるむ),"water has warmed up"(spring)
It's getting warmer every day. It is rare for a woman to row a ferry as
a job. What has become of the ferryman? The Poet is much surprised at the uncommon scene. But the surprise is very pleasing to him because a ferrywoman, in mild and gentle-mannered rowing, though unexpected sight, well matches the time that has just parted from the frigid season, the arrival
of a long-awaited spring.
Mr. Takahashi says a ferrywoman has an unexpected reversal effect like that of drama.
Prof. Ogata guesses the woman may pinch-hit for her father, who
is suddenly not
able to do the job.
Rather than cherry,
Peach would be matching;
A small house.
59.さくらより 桃にしたしき 小家哉
(Sakura yori momo ni shitashiki koei kana)
Season word: momo(桃),"peach blossoms" (spring)
Cherry blossoms in gorgeous spring attire would overwhelm a small house,
of which the residents are far from being well-off. The Poet feels compassion for their poverty and modesty. Peach blossoms, even in full bloom, have neatness
in rather moderate
brilliancy. The blossoms bear fruit and in time the family will be graced with it. The snug little house, whose atmosphere is simplicity itself,
will be filled with the warmth of expectation.
For government officials,
Farmerws shake straw mats
60.家中衆に さむしろ振ふ もゝの宿
(Kachushu ni sa mushiro furuu momo no yado)
Season word: momo(桃),"peach blossoms" (spring)
*'Kachushu'(家中衆) are government officials in the Edo period(1603~1868).
They used to make the rounds of farm-houses regularly.
*Here we can interpret ‘yado’ (宿) in two different meanings; one is ‘in the part of a garden close to the door’ (niwa saki, 庭先) and the
other is ‘the house’, not an inn. I think it better to adopt the latter one.
*Farmers in the Haiku are preparing mats for the officials to sit on while
viewing peach blossoms in the small garden of the farmhouse.
Peach blossoms are in full bloom. Farmers, worrying about how to treat stately samurai officials hospitably, poor as they are, restlessly humiliate themselves to their sudden visit. Viewing peach blossoms is the only hospitality they can afford.
Were it not for peach trees, there would be no
further human relationships developed. Their living conditions are so tough but Nature helps them
out of the hard situation. The Poet may well be praised for his minute people-watching and gentle expression of close ties between rural life and Nature.
61.雨の日や 都に遠き もゝのやど
(Amenohi ya miyakoni toki
momo no yado)
Season word: momo(桃の咲いた),"peach-blossomed" (spring)
* “Tooki”(遠き) has two meanings at the same time. I agree with Mr. Takahashi. One is the true distance regardless of theweather and the other is,
the number of visitors is very small on rainy days.
*‘Yado’(宿) in the Haiku means ‘a
house’, not anything else.
On fair days, a lot of visitors from the town enjoy peach blossoms at their
peak here in a village, but when
it rains, very few come to them and it makes people realize 'a long way' from the Capital. But the real distance does not matter at all. The Poet’s theme of the Haiku is expressed in a very straightforward, simple and
plain manner. We catch his consciousness of the ordinary lives of human beings closely connected
with Nature, just as I
mentioned in the impression on the preceding Haiku N0.60.
62. しのゝめに 小雨ふり出す やけ野哉
(Shinonome ni kosame furidasu yakeno kana)
Season word: yakeno(やけ野),"a burnt field" (spring)
* “yakeno”(やけ野) is a field burnt by farmers. Burning a field has two purposes. Firstly, it is to make young buds shoot easily and secondly, to get rid
of vermin or insect pests.
They burnt a field. At the
next daybreak they had a light rain over the burntfield. The rain is a blessed gift for the farmers,
which lets them have high expectations of young buds.
Mr. Takahashi says the Poet is conscious of the passage of time ━ from the past, to the present
and further to the eternal future.
I feel Nature soon responded to man's honest and earnest activities by
sending them rain as her benevolent reward, grace to them. Clearly the Poet shares deep thanks for her with farmers.
||Going on a flatland,
I felt particularly faraway the mountain ━
Wild cherry blossoms.
63. 平地行きて ことに遠山 ざくら哉
(Hirachi yukite kotoni toyama
Season word: yamazakura(山ざくら),"wild cherry blossoms"(spring)
* ‘Kotoni’ (ことに) means ‘particularly’, especially’, or ‘above all’.
*In the expression ‘遠山 ざくら’(too yama zakura), the Poet made a double pun. It reads: ‘遠山’(too yama) is a faraway mountain and ‘遠山 ざくら’(too yama zakura) is a wild cherry blossoms in the faraway mountain. Through the pun, skillfully
he expresses those wild cherry blossoms that he is eager to view are in a farawaymountain.
*The botanical name of ‘Yamazakura’(山桜) is ‘Prunus jamasakura’.
This is a hypermetric
haiku. Evidently the first five, 'hi ra chi yu ki te’ has ahypermeter, six sounds. It’s worth considering why the Poet dared to express ‘hi ra chi yu ki te’ ━ six sounds, without stopping at the fifth sound, ‘ki’. We have to admit that the sixth sound ‘te’ must have been indispensable to him in completing the Haiku.
‘Te’「て」 plays a conjunctional function and shows the reason for the following expression
and in the Haiku it emphasizes ‘kotoni’ (ことに) , particularly. If the Poet omitted the word ‘te’, the Haiku would be interpreted differently. We discover that the sixth sound is the key word of the Haiku.
Wild cherry blossoms in mountains were, the Poet felt, a long way off. The distance made him more and more anxious to search and enjoy viewing them. Going on a long path of the flatland was so hard and impressive to him that he coudldn't stop breaking standard form of haiku by adding the emphatic sound ‘te’.
Nay, to be precise, it is his intention to create the Haiku hypermetric in order to make it impressive to
64.ゆく春や 同車の君の さゝめごと
(Yukuharu ya dosha no kimi no sasame goto)
Season word: yukuharu(ゆく春),"the departing spring"(spring)
*In the Heian period
(794~1192) nobility used an ox-drawn carriage as a meansof transportation.
*'Dosha no kimi' is a
lady riding together with a court noble on the sameox-drawn carriage.
couldn't possibly be heard without. The warmth of late springgave the Poet an illusion of amour scene in the passing ox-drawn carriage. It's doubtful whether the carriage he happened to see looked like the type of the Heianperiod’s, but it is very interesting to note
that a woman in the Haiku is keen on amour as if she hates to feel the spring departing. The season, through all its phases,
arouses a feeling of sexual love between man and woman.
This is the very world of haiku poetry by the Poet. Anyhow, the Haiku is very popular both with men and women in Japan.
65.ゆく春や おもたき琵琶の 抱心
omotaki biha no daki gokoro)
Season word: yukuharu(ゆく春),"departing spring"(spring)
A biwa is a Japanese traditional musical instrument. Its origin can be
traced as far back as the Ancient Persian Empire (BC 550-). In Persia,
or in Iran it has been called a 'udo', or a 'barbat'. Even today in Iran it is one of the popular musical instruments and in
some parts wandering minstrels tell tales while playing the udo. A udo is also
the origin of a lute. A biwa can be called a Japanese lute. The udo was introduced into ancient China by the Silk Road or Silk Routes, there changed a lot in its form and the rest. One of the reformed ones
finally wandered its way to Japan around 12 centuries ago and there established
itself as the original form of biwa of today, and it has developed into
a lot of variations. Since then, for a very long time, a biwa played a
leading part in handing down
oral literature along the generations in Japan.
In olden times a man sang or told a tale to
his own biwa accompaniment. Especially a blind biwa player, or biwahoshi (琵琶法師) traveled about, performing and reciting the sutras (a Buddhist scripture),
which is a well-known fact. The instrument played the
similar role to that of a guitar today.
To pick up a well known
example of the role of a biwa in literary works, like most Japanese, I will get to as short story titled 'The Story of Mimi-nashi Hōichi’ written by Lafcadio Hearn (1850 - 1904). It originated in “the Tale of Heike”, the author unknown, which is a tale of the battles between the Genji and the Heike clans (1180 - 1185), the Genpei War. In the battle at Dannoura the Heike were completely defeated and perished.
Readers, please let me
quote a passage from it. It reads:"Some centuries ago there lived at Akamagaseki a blind man named Hoichi,
who was famed for his skill in recitation and in playing upon the biwa.
From childhood he had been trained to recite and to play; and while yet
a lad he had surpassed his teachers. As a professional biwa-hoshi he became famous
chiefly by his recitations of the history of the Heike and the Genji; and it is said that when he sang the song of the battle of Dan-no-ura 'even the goblins
[kijin] could not refrain from tears'." I think probably
people can't hold back the desire to read the Story to the last.
The Haiku is very popular
with every generation in Japan. Spring is just departing and the weather is warm and wearisome. To create some diversion,
he reaches his biwa. 'Holding a biwa' does not only imply to play the instrument as refreshment but to hold a beloved woman in his lap. Late spring in the Edo period (1603 - 1868) must have had such an atmosphere both in seasonal emotion and secret amour, and even today it has
no exception in spite of global warming. As with the other haiku poems of his on the same season word, the Poet himself is reluctant to part from spring itself, which is clearly expressed in the phrase of ' the heaviness of the biwa'.
Where are you
A boat at anchor sailed off.
66. 行春の いづち去けむ かゝり舟
(Yukuharu no izuchiini kemu kakari bune)
Season word: yukuharu(行春),"departing spring" (spring)
*'Izuchi(いづち)' means interrogatiuve 'where'.
Spring is changing itself into early summer. The lack of clear distinction between the two seasons makes the Poet feel a dreary sorrow of parting from spring. He is trying to seek and keep a fast hold on lingering spring so intently, but the effort of his has turned out only in vain. He notices that an anchoring boat is gone somewhere unknown to him and he wonders if his dear spring, also, has gone somewhere he can’t possibly follow it close behind.
The Poet makes the delicate change of seasons and a common event overlap each other with such skill that we gradually realize the subtle transition
of spring in Japan.
Sunlight of this morning
From the head of a sardine.
67. 日の光 今朝や鰯の かしらより
(Hino hikari kesa ya iwashi no kashira yori)
Season word: the first day of spring by the lunar calendar(立春), (spring)
[Prof. Ogata indicates that in the Haiku it is implied both by "this morning"
and"the head of a sardine".]
On the last day of
winter by the lunar calendar, when people scatter beams todrive out devils and attract good fortune. On the night people in the Edo period (1603 - 1867 ) stuck a branch of a holly into the head of a dried sardine and put
the stick into the earth at the gate. This was the curse by which people
believed they could expel evil spirits from the new year and from themselves.
In Japan there is an old saying that even the head of a sardine can ward
off evil for someone who is firmly convinced that it can, or even a sardine's head
will make an object of faith.
The Poet feels the brilliant sunshine of the first day of spring very bright,
especially so this year, as if the sardine's head at the gate was emitting its beam toward home. This is the literal interpretation of the Haiku, generally accepted.
The Poet and his family have safely survived the dreadfully cold winter. The magnitude of his relief and pleasure and the sunshine of the first spring day are marvelously harmonized. The spring sunlight and the head of a sardine are fantastically combined
in one great creation.
| To his disciple 柳女(Ryujyo) and her son 賀瑞(Gazui), both living in Fushimi, Kyoto, on February 23 in the lunar calendar, in 1777, the Poet wrote about the particulars of the idea and creation of the Poem.
|Hitotsu, shumpu batei kyoku batei wa kemano tsutsumi nari. Sunawachi, yoga koen nari.
Yo, yodo no toki, shunshoku seiwa no hini wa, kanarazu, tomodochi to kono
tejyo ni nobori te asobi soro.
Mizu niwa jyoge no fune ari, tsutsumi ni wa orai no kyaku ari.
Sono naka ni wa, inaka musume no naniwa ni hoko shite, kashikoku naniwa
no imayo sugata ni narai, kami katachi mo gika no fuzei wo manabi oden・shigetayu no shinjyu no ukina wo urayami, kokyo no keitei wo haji iyashimu mono ari.
Saredomo, sasugani koen no jyo ni tae zu, tama tama, oyazato ni kisei suru ada mono naru beshi.
Naniwa wo idete yori oyazato made no michiyuki nite, hiki dogu no kyogen,
zamoto yahantei to owarai kudasaru beku soro.
Jitsu wa guro kaikyu no yarukata naki yori umeki ideta ru jitsujyo nite soro.
The item is, Shumpu Bate Kyoku [Bate(馬堤) is Kema no tsutsumi(毛馬塘), the river bank of Kema, my home village.]
As a little boy, I used to climb this river bank and play with my friends, on fair, mild spring days of natural beauty. Boats were rowing
or sailing up and down in the river, and travelers come and go on the bank.
Among them was a village maiden, who was apprenticed in Naniwa, a big city, and smartly imitating the up-to-date fashion there, shaped
her hairstyle after the taste and elegance of Japanese style brothel.
She envied a rumor of love affairs about*Oden(阿伝) and Shige Tayu (しげ太夫), both respectively ending in lovers' suicide. In addition, she was ashamed of her brothers and sisters in her
home, regarding them with contempt, but even she could not help but feel nostalgia for her family, and it happened that she went
back to her parents. Naturally she must be an amorous, or a smart-looking woman.
This is a description of travel scene in
verse from Naniwa to her home village and a Kabuki play on such a small scale without a revolving stage as changes
the small scene only by pulling ropes with hands.The manager of the drama is *'Yahantei' (夜半亭) or 'Midnight Studio'. All these things you can laugh at
To tell the truth, this is my true feeling that I, very aged, moaned and groaned from a strong homesickness for my dear memories of the past.
*shumpu (春風)=a spring wind.
*kyoku (曲)=originally, a form of Chinese poetry long ago, in ancient times.
*Oden and Shigetayu were harlots, playing as a geisha. They fell in love with their fans, and committed a lovers' suicide.
*Yahantei (Midnight Studio) is the haigo (haikai pen name) which was succeeded by the Poet himself in 1770. Originally, Yahantei was the pen name of his teacher Hayano Hajin (早野巴人) (1676-1742),
who was one of the haikai masters in Edo (now Tokyo).]
Based on the content of the above letter, Prof. Tsutomu Ogata and his fellow scholars comment that at the end of the year before, the Poet married his beloved only daughter Kuno (くの). Then he felt much relieved and emptiness in his heart. Both elements, it can be said, driving him to longing for his dead mother and fantasy of a woman in the bloom of youth, led him to create this romantic verse of nostalgia for his past.
On the constitution of the Poems, Prof.
Ogata explains as follows:
① The style of ‘haiku’ (発句体) works as a descriptive part to change scenes.
② The style of ‘Chinese characters poems’ (漢詩体) performs a function of the girl’s lines.
③ The style of ‘Chinese characters writings
rendered into Japanese’ (漢文訓読体) is set as ‘iro (イロ)’, a
neutral or ornament tone between a descriptive part and a dialogue.
Prof. Ogata adds that it is clearly seen the Poet likened to ‘dancing’ in Kabuki based on a joruri
music the Poem, which he
produced as a parody of such a play in a kind of poetry in the Chinese style
as frequently uses a form of ‘making word chains’ and a ‘rhetorical
Mr. Takahashi comments on the Poem in his ‘Buson shunjyu (蕪村春秋)’. It goes:
The Poem has no precedent. And No one tried this form after him. Consequently,
it can be said that the
Poet left a precious masterpiece of quite original verse form in the history of Japanese literature. There exists no work comparable in
literary value to the Poem.
| Preface by the Poet Yosa Buson (与謝蕪村)
余一日問耆老於故園。(余一日 耆老を 故園に問う。) [Yo ichi jitu kiro wo koen ni tou.]
||[Sabuson] : his own signature in Chinese style
渡澱水過馬堤。 (澱水を 渡り 馬堤を過ぐ。) [Densui wo watari Bate wo sugu.]
偶逢女帰省郷者。 (偶 女の 郷に帰省する者 に逢う) [Tama tama onna no sato ni kisei suru mono ni au.]
先後行数里相顧語。 (先後して行くこと数里、相顧りみて語る。)[Zengo shite yuku koto suri, ai kaerimite kataru.]
容姿嬋娟癡情可憐。 (容姿嬋娟、癡情 憐れむ可し。) [Yoshi senken, chijyo awaremu beshi.]
因製歌曲十八首。 (因って 歌曲十八首を製し、) [Yotte kakyoku 18shu wo sei shi, ]
代女述意。 (女に代りて 意を述ぶ。) [Onna ni kawari te kokoro wo nobu.]
題曰春風馬堤曲。 (題して 春風馬堤曲 と曰う。) [Dai shite Shumpu Batei Kyoku to iu.]
English version by hokuto77:
One day I went out to visit an
aged man of his sixties or seventies, in my hometown.
I crossed the Yodo River and passed 'Batei.'[the river bank of Kema]
I encountered a girl who is
going home on holidays.
We walked some miles, now before, now behind, looking back to talk to the other.
She has a gracefully
beautiful figure and sexually awakened behavior is attractive.
Accordingly, I composed 18 songs in verse and
On her behalf, I expressed what she is thinking and feeling.
The title is Shunpu Batei Kyoku, a form of Chinese poetry to a spring wind
blowing through the river bank of Kema.
[Shumpu Batei Kyoku Jyu hasshu]
The 18 poems of Shumpu Batei Kyoku,