Posts Tagged ‘Basho on Poetry…..’

“Haikai” What is it?

July 24, 2019

Sesshu painting

(Painting by Sesshu)

Pale lavender sky

Balances the moon and sun

The scale shifts to night.

Under the dark moon

I awaited your return

Only shadows came.

A swirl of blossoms

Caught in the water’s current

Begins the season.

Fallen leaves crackle.

Sparrows add the treble notes.

Season’s musical.


 Dogwoods blooming
The crucifixion appears
White moths in the night.


Fall’s crispness compels

Apples to tumble from trees.

Worms make the journey.


The frost at morning

Makes the birds plump their feathers

Squirrels add chatter.

These haiku are mine alone.

Lady Nyo….aka Jane

From Basho on Poetry:

There are three elements in haikai: Its feeling can be called loneliness (sabi). This plays with refined dishes but contents itself with humble fare. Its total effect can be called elegance. This lives in figured silks and embroidered brocades but does not forget a person clad in woven straw. Its language can be called aesthetic madness. Language resides in untruth and ought to comport with truth. It is difficult to reside in truth and sport with untruth. These three elements do not exalt a humble person to heights. They put an exalted person in a low place.

The profit of haikai lies in making common speech right.

Haikai needs more homely images, such as a crow picking mud snails in a rice paddy.

In humanity, there can be something called a windswept spirit. A thin drapery torn and swept away by the stirring of the wind. Indeed, since beginning to write poetry, it (this windswept spirit…this dissatisfaction (my word) knows no other art than the art of writing poetry and therefore it hangs on to it more or less blindly.

Poetry is a fireplace in summer or a fan in winter.

How invincible is the power of poetry to reduce me (Basho) to a tattered beggar!

It is the poetic spirit called furabo that leads one to follow nature and become a friend with things of the seasons. Flowers, moon, insects, etc. For those who do not see the flower are no different from barbarians, and those who do not imagine the moon are akin to beasts. Leave barbarians and beasts behind and follow nature and return to nature.

The bones of haiku are plainness and oddness.

From: Basho on Poetry.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2019





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