Posts Tagged ‘Haiku’

“Issa, Cup-Of-Tea”

June 29, 2018

owls, baby 2

(unfinished watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2018, “Baby Owls”)

Kobayashi Issa, (1763-1827) A Haiku Poet with Enormous Heart

 

I have had “The Essential haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa” for a few years and have only really gotten to Basho. But recently reading Issa, the world of haiku opened up in ways I didn’t expect.

What is remarkable about Issa’s poetry is the compassion for the lowest of creatures (insects, etc.), the deep interest in the commonalities of life, and a compassion for people.

Haiku can be a perplexing poetry form. Recently I have read a lot of bad haiku. I’ve written about this before. (I’ve also written bad haiku myself) It seems people throw together observations and call it haiku. It generally isn’t. There are ‘rules’ and structures for this poetry form, and it seems that many people who attempt haiku have no regard for even reading or researching some of these fundamentals. If they started with a reading and research of renga, they would get some background of haiku, or hokku, which is what haiku was first called.

Renga, or linked verse, is marvelous to read. One poet starts with a three line poem, another picks it up, and so on. They can go on for a hundred linked poems or more. Usually accompanied by sake.

What was remarkable of renga, and later of haiku…is the shifts and dissolves that remind one of early surrealist films. And there are some modernist poets, like Ezra Pound’s XXX Cantos, or even better, Wallace Stevens’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” that comes near to the renga spirit, this shifting and resolve.

But the Buddhist tradition embraced this shifting and resolve. Renga, and then haiku, have a way of embracing this life, this transitory nature of all things.

I came across a part of a 14th century treatise on poetry: “Contemplate deeply the vicissitudes of the life of man and body, always keep in your heart the image of mujo (ephemerality) and when you go to the mountains or the sea, feel the pathos (aware) of the karma of sentient beings and non-sentient things. Give feeling to those things without a heart (mushintai no mono) and through your own heart express their beauty (yugen) in a delicate form.”(from “Basho and the Way of Poetry in the Japanese Religious Tradition”)

Again, haiku isn’t as simple as it seems. But it’s direct, forceful and of a keenness that satisfies.

People complain of the ‘oddness’ of haiku. Perhaps it is this ‘shifts and resolve’ embedded in the form. To me, Issa has less of this than Basho or Buson. There is a directness and compassion of Issa that deeply involves the heart and eyes.

My words will not convince anyone. But perhaps examples of Issa will.

Lady Nyo

Haiku of Issa: from The Essential Haiku, edited by Robert Hass

 

New Year’s Day—

Everything is in blossom!

I feel about average.

 

The snow is melting

And the village is flooded

With children.

 

Don’t worry, spiders,

I keep house

Casually.

 

Goes out,

Comes back—

The loves of a cat.

 

Children imitating cormorants

Are even more wonderful

Than cormorants.

 

O flea! Whatever you do,

Don’t jump.

That way is the river.

 

In this world

We walk on the roof of hell,

Gazing at flowers.

 

Don’t kill that fly!

Look—it’s wringing its hands

Wringing its feet.

 

I’m going out,

Flies, so relax,

Make love.

 

(approaching his village)

 

Don’t know about the people,

But all the scarecrows

Are crooked.

 

A huge frog and I,

Staring at each other,

Neither of us moves.

 

All the time I pray to Buddha

I keep on

Killing mosquitoes.

 

What good luck!

Bitten by

This year’s mosquitoes too.

 

The bedbug

Scatter as I clean,

Parents and children.

 

And my personal favorite…

 

Zealous flea,

You’re about to be a Buddha

By my hand.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Basho on Poetry: Learn from the Pine”.

June 18, 2018

Sesshu painting

Basho On Poetry: Learn from the Pine


These are excerpts from a rather long document by Basho, considered to be the top haiku poet of the 17th century. I am presenting these thoughts of his because they ‘make clear and plain’ what Basho believes is the correct approach to haiku. Today, lots of poets are attempting haiku, and missing by a wide streak. This is sad, but also represents a lack of study, perhaps pure laziness, and as one poet said: “Every thing I learned about haiku, I learned from the internet.”
This is especially sad, but an honest statement from one poet. There are enough books on haiku out there, and by masters of haiku, too, to read and learn from. That is not to say that haiku is easy. It looks easy, but isn’t. At least attending to some of words of poets like Basho will give us a hint.

Perhaps these words will help in our forming our own haiku. I offer some of my own, but these were formed before I had read Basho. Perhaps readers will see the struggle to form haiku. Writing haiku is definitely a learning process that should take a long time of study and contemplation.

Lady Nyo

BASHO:
Learn about the pines from the pine, and about bamboo from the bamboo.
Don’t follow in the footsteps of the old poets, seek what they sought.
The basis of art is change in the universe. What’s still has changeless form. Moving things change, and because we cannot put a stop to time, it continues unarrested. To stop a thing would be to halve a sight or sound in our heart. Cherry blossoms whirl, leaves fall, and the wind flits them both along the ground. We cannot arrest with our eyes or ears what lies in such things. Were we to gain mastery over them, we would find that the life of each thing had vanished without a trace.

Make the universe your companion, always bearing in mind the true nature of things—mountains and rivers, trees and grasses, and humanity—and enjoy the falling blossoms and the scattering leaves.
One should know that a hokku is made by combining things.
The secret of poetry lies in treading the middle path between the reality and the vacuity of the world.

One must first of all concentrate one’s thoughts on an object. Once the mind achieves a state of concentration and the space between oneself and the object had disappeared, the essential nature of the object can be perceived. Then express it immediately. If one ponders it, it will vanish from the mind.

Sabi is the color of the poem. It does not necessarily refer to the poem that describes a lonely scene. If a man goes to war wearing stout armor or to a party dressed up in gay clothes, and if this man happens to be an old man, there is something lonely about him. Sabi is something like that.

When you are composing a verse, quickly say what is in your mind; never hesitate a moment.

Composition must occur in an instant, like a swordsman leaping at his enemy.

Is there any good in saying everything?

In composing hokku, there are two ways: becoming and making. When a poet who has been assiduous in pursuit of his aim applies himself to an external object, the color of his mind naturally becomes a poem. In the case of the poet who has not done so, nothing in him will become a poem; he makes the poem through an act of personal will.

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.)


My (Lady Nyo’s) examples of early haiku.

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.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2016-18

 

 

Some Haiku…..

June 15, 2018

Kohut-Bartels-LS-2

Watercolor of trees, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2006

A Note to Lisa:  So good to meet you, Lisa and you are a very special woman.  I talked a bit about “The Kimono” and it’s somewhere (chapters) on the blog here, going back to ‘older entries’.  However!  There are some very funny entries, like  “Nancy Madsen”, and “The Mermaid” from my ongoing memoir: “Memories of a Rotten Childhood”.  LOL.  And….a rather sexy book, my second (unpublished….)  “Devil’s Revenge”, posted here.  Thank you for the chat and the best of everything to and for you, Lisa!  

Hugs, Jane

It’s full bloom spring, almost summer at least the weather says so.  These haiku are inspired by Frank Tassone’s haiku, (American Haijin)though he is the better haiku poet.  

Lady Nyo

The koi are hungry
Orange mouths gulp green water
Good the algae grows

Spring robins watch
Quarrelsome beasts these birds!
They don’t share the worms

Half submerged eyes
Of frogs in algae filled pond
Reflect cloudy moon

Swifts- dark crescent moons
Sickles cutting through the dusk
Tag the slower bats

Chatter of sparrows
Treble voices to spring song
Dried leaves percussion

Soft rains caress earth
A hand slides up a soft thigh
Cherry blossoms bloom

Sultry air disturbs
The sleep of husband and wife
Panting without lust

(my favorite haiku…)

Pale lavender sky
Balances the moon and sun
The scale shifts to night.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

“Basho on Poetry: Learn from the Pine”

May 9, 2018

waterlily in our pond.

In rereading these words of Basho, I am struck to the core.  Oddness and plainness speaks to not only haiku but so much of poetry.  I struggled to learn Japanese aesthetics but I missed something fundamental.  I think Basho hits the nails on the heads.  There is so much ‘truth’ to what he says here that I want to understand and experience this honest approach to poetry, as Basho details below.  I keep reading it, over and over, and each time something else is revealed in his words.

These are excerpts from a rather long document by Basho, considered to be the top haiku poet of the 17th century. I am presenting these thoughts of his because they ‘make clear and plain’ what Basho believes is the correct approach to haiku. Today, lots of poets are attempting haiku, and missing by a wide streak. This is sad, but also represents a lack of study, perhaps pure laziness, and as one poet said: “Every thing I learned about haiku, I learned from the internet.”

This is especially sad, but an honest statement from one poet. There are enough books on haiku out there, and by masters of haiku, too, to read and learn from. That is not to say that haiku is easy. It looks easy, but isn’t. At least attending to some of words of poets like Basho will give us a hint.

Perhaps these words will help in our forming our own haiku. I offer some of my own, but these were formed before I had read Basho. Perhaps readers will see the struggle to form haiku. Writing haiku is definitely a learning process that should take a long time of study and contemplation.


Lady Nyo

 

BASHO:
Learn about the pines from the pine, and about bamboo from the bamboo.
Don’t follow in the footsteps of the old poets, seek what they sought.
The basis of art is change in the universe. What’s still has changeless form. Moving things change, and because we cannot put a stop to time, it continues unarrested. To stop a thing would be to halve a sight or sound in our heart. Cherry blossoms whirl, leaves fall, and the wind flits them both along the ground. We cannot arrest with our eyes or ears what lies in such things. Were we to gain mastery over them, we would find that the life of each thing had vanished without a trace.

Make the universe your companion, always bearing in mind the true nature of things—mountains and rivers, trees and grasses, and humanity—and enjoy the falling blossoms and the scattering leaves.

One should know that a hokku is made by combining things.
The secret of poetry lies in treading the middle path between the reality and the vacuity of the world.

 

One must first of all concentrate one’s thoughts on an object. Once the mind achieves a state of concentration and the space between oneself and the object had disappeared, the essential nature of the object can be perceived. Then express it immediately. If one ponders it, it will vanish from the mind.

Sabi is the color of the poem. It does not necessarily refer to the poem that describes a lonely scene. If a man goes to war wearing stout armor or to a party dressed up in gay clothes, and if this man happens to be an old man, there is something lonely about him. Sabi is something like that.

When you are composing a verse, quickly say what is in your mind; never hesitate a moment.

Composition must occur in an instant, like a swordsman leaping at his enemy.
Is there any good in saying everything?

In composing hokku, there are two ways: becoming and making. When a poet who has been assiduous in pursuit of his aim applies himself to an external object, the color of his mind naturally becomes a poem. In the case of the poet who has not done so, nothing in him will become a poem; he makes the poem through an act of personal will.

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.

Lady Nyo’s examples of early haiku.

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.

Dogwoods blooming
The crucifixion appears
White moths in the night.

(this last haiku is my favorite…)


Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2018

 

 

“Haiku: The Seasons”

March 17, 2018

Kohut-Bartels-BOP-6

 For all who are feeling the first stirrings of Spring.  Especially Frank T and Frank H.

Lady Nyo

Cherry red toenails
Peek out from warm blanket.
Snow cools ardor.

Willows whip about
A kimono flares open
Eyes savor plump thighs.

White makeup drips
The hard heat and mosquitos
Make maiko languid.

Girls chase falling leaves
Plump thighs give delight to eyes
Mothers do not smile.

Soft rains caress earth
Hand slides up a soft thigh.
Cherry blossoms

 

Sultry air disturbs
sleep of husband and wife.
They pant without lust.

Hoarfrost appears-
All the silken kimonos
Will not warm flesh.

 

A swirl of blossoms
Caught in the water’s current
Begins the season.

Dogwoods blooming
Crucifixion appears
White moths in the night.


(Dogwoods are a Southern tree here in the South. White blooms
having the form of the Christian Cross, with nail heads. They bloom in the spring right before Easter. They are a symbol of Christianity in Nature.)


Under the dark moon
I awaited your return
Only shadows came.

 

Fallen leaves crackle.
Sparrows add the treble notes.
Season’s musical.

The cold moon shines down
Upon hollow dried grasses.
Earth prepares to sleep.

 

The frost at morning
Makes the birds plump their feathers
Squirrels add chatter.

 

kohut-Bartels-LS-9

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

“A Few More Haiku”

January 19, 2018

waterlily in our pond.

 

Skeleton-trees wave

While the wind whips dead leaves

Wood smoke scents the air.

A half-moon drifts

Across wintry sky.

Trees become monsters.

Over us the stars

Glitter laughing witnesses-

Reach up and hang there!

Fall’s crispness compels

Apples to tumble from trees.

Worms make the journey.

Ice blocks the rivers.

Look! A duck frozen there.

Nature, no mercy.

The garden spiders

Fold their black spindly legs,

Die, all work now done.

Come kiss my warm lips

Cup my breast in your rough hand,

Growl into my mouth.

I chase one red leaf

Across dry and brittle grass

Juice of summer gone.

I come to the end

My life being no different.

It was as is now.

Pale lavender sky

Balances the moon and sun

The scale shifts to night.

Leaves, branches, litter

Torrential rains wash them gone-

Did they ever exist?

 

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

“A Few Haiku, a Few Tanka”

January 16, 2018
My beautiful picture

Madame Carriere climbed up the second story window but alas!  Was cut back.  In a few years she  grew 20×20 feet.  Amazing rose.  Have replaced her with another one.

 

Because I am so cold, I thought a few springish haiku and tanka would take my mind off Winter.  It’s not working.

Haiku

Dogwoods are blooming
The crucifixion appears
White moths in the night.

(Dogwoods are a Southern tree here in the South.  White blooms
having the form of the Christian Cross, with nail heads.  They bloom in the spring  right before Easter. They are a symbol of Christianity in Nature.)

Under the dark moon

I awaited your return

Only shadows came.

The moon, a ghostly

Sliver, sails on a jet sea

Wild dogs howl beneath.

A woman in bed

Kimono revealing breast

Snow on Mt. Fuji

Tibetan earthworms

Bring a halt to all labor.

Here? Fat koi eat well.

Rooster doesn’t crow

Night’s loud thunder and lightning

Ruins his morning voice.

Even the hoot owls

Are silent this stormy night

Wind muffles their cries.

Tanka

The fire of life

Is love. No exact measure.

A whirling dervish

Hands in opposite display

Gathers in the miracle.

Spring


The sound of frog-calls,
In the pond floats a pale moon
Fresh life is stirring
An early owl goes hunting
Wise mice scatter for cover.

Thin, silken breezes

Float upon a green-ribbon

Of spring—pale season.

Scent of lilies, myrtle, plum

Arouse bees from slumber.

Restless and confused,

Birds cry out, sky darkening

Rain lashes, flooding

Freshly planted fields drown

Wind sails red tiles from  roofs.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

 

Spring Haiku, Tanka and Two Poems

February 28, 2017

spring garden 4

(Front Garden in Spring)

It is Winter-Spring. Most of February has been warm and now the daffodils, tulips, snowbells, grape hiathyns, and azaleas are in full bloom.  Strange and unusual for February.  Tomorrow is predicted severe storms in the South, with possible tornadoes.  We didn’t have a decent Winter, so the fleas and mosquitoes will start their pestering of anything with flesh and blood very soon.  This morning, I found three  dead baby squirrels , killed by my dogs. They were only a month or so in the living, perfect little babies.  I don’t know what nest they came from, or fell, but the dogs mauled them.  Such beautiful and tender little creatures.  How sad that they didn’t get to live this spring.  So many are taken by tornadoes and severe wind storms here, people and animals.  Well, all this has turned my heart to Spring, and the fragile  and impermanent beauty of it all.

Lady Nyo 

 

 

Haiku

1.

Dogwoods are blooming

The crucifixion appears

White moths in the night.

 

2.

Soft rains caress earth

A hand slides up a soft thigh

Cherry blossoms bloom.

3.

Changing curtains

Helicopter red maple

Pollen fills the air.

4.

Willows whip about

Red kimono flares open

Eyes savor plump thighs.

 

5.

A swirl of blossoms

Caught in the water’s current

Begins the season.

 

Tanka

1.

The sound of frog-calls

In the pond floats a pale moon

Fresh life is stirring

An early owl goes hunting

Wise mice scatter for cover.

2.

Thin, silken breezes

Float upon a green-ribbon

Of spring—pale season.

Scent of lilies, myrtle, plum

Arouse bees from slumber.

 

  Foxtail

Great winds come before a storm,

tree branches whirl-

green pinwheels near heaven.

One shakes like a foxtail by the ground.

All this wind!

I think of the impermanence of life,

the ghost-smoke of one loved, now gone.

Even the snow falls to the ground

But you have disappeared into air.

Perhaps that foxtail sends greetings

to comfort the heart?

Rude Spring

Sharp brittle wind

Sails like clipper glass

Cuts the skin razor thin,

And flays off winter.

 

This spring can’t wait.

It lies,

Promises comforting warmth

Yet delivers a numbing cold-

Too much in love with winter still.

 

I hear the laughter in the pines.

They moan or echo an evil chuckle.

 

No matter.

This argument will be over

Once the earth

Pirouettes on point.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One haiku, two tanka for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

November 19, 2016

The haiku is a ‘revised’ haiku based on one written by Kiyoshi

Kiyoshi :

Only silence

the summer breezes caressed

Wisteria blossoms

 —

Lady Nyo:

Only stillness

Escapes summer’s intentions

four o’clocks close up.

(four o’clocks are flowers in the south that close up with summer’s heat and open at dusk when it cools.  They remain open, scenting the night and feed moths, nocturnal feeders.  heavy scent.)

Prompt “fragile beauty”

 

Her lovely snow-flesh

tracery of blue veins

fold themselves gently

grief’s ragged breath draws

hauntings of her beauty

=

A prompt to do with wit?

Yes, I forgive you.

(Hands unclean from previous crimes)

Go wash them in snow.

(The snow of last year’s falling)

Then I will reconsider.

=-

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

Two haibun and two haiku.

November 18, 2016

waterlily in our pond.

(our small fish pond in summer)

For K. Sakura.

Haibun:  Solitude

 

My solitude is shared by the night time crickets and a soft hooting owl. Having withdrawn from crushing-concerns, the moon must approve. She shines comforting moonlight through a ruined roof. Moonbeams filter dust motes as if a thousand fish are swimming upstream and turning around.

 

 

Tonight I will sleep.

The moon floats though my dreams

Comfort blankets me.

 

Haibun :  Summer =

The summer was beautiful, despite the heat.  Last night the moon looked like a beggar’s cup, soft brilliance glowing.  The days in the Deep South are sultry, but the wind picks up in late afternoon when a storm is coming and then these huge oaks and pecans are whirligigs high in the sky. Barley tea, iced tea and lemonade are the drinks of choice, harkening back to an earlier time.  Closed drapes, blinds at noon work to regulate temperature, though one doubts this will.

The heat brings to life cicadas, or whatever is making a constant buzz outside.  It comes in waves, where one group, or species, competes in volume with another. A call and answer of tent meeting insects. The dogs of summer are wise: flattening themselves on the cool tiles of the laundry room, they remain motionless until the cooling of the night when they chase rats in the kudzu.  They have developed a taste for watermelon, and we sit on the back porch and share with them, all spitting seeds,  while a wood owl barks from a huge oak above. We never see him, but his hoots add to the symphony of summer nights.

Sultry air disturbs

The sleep of husband and wife.

They pant without lust.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

 

 


%d bloggers like this: