Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Carpe Diem #743 from all directions

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We have just to go a few days on the trail with Basho and than we will close this wonderful CDHK-month. I have enjoyed this month a lot and I hope you all did enjoy it too. Today our haiku by Basho is titled from all directions and that brought a few things in mind.
First our Carpe Diem Haiku Kai Family has members from all directions and that makes me happy. Second this haiku title brought another idea in mind. A more sad idea. From all directions, everywere on Earth there are issues to resolve not at least peace. Peace right now is further away than we ever could imagine, but what makes me sad the most is the following. Once humankind was proud on its history, but nowadays our history is under attack .... not so long ago Nimrud and Hattra were destroyed and now maybe Palmyra is the next piece of history to be destroyed.
Of course this has nothing to do with our Haiku Kai, but sometimes I just have to share this kind of things ... and I hope you don't mind ....

Credits: Palmyra, and ancient Roman city in Syria

Back to our haiku for today from all directions. This haiku was a greeting verse for Hamada Chinseki, a physician, at his home, Sharaku Do, which had majestic views of Lake Biwa and its surroundings. There is a wordplay on nio, which can mean "a grebe" (Podiceps ruficollis) or "a plentiful water bird on the lake". It is also an abbreviation for the lake.

shiho yori hana fuki rete nio no nami

from all directions
blossoms blow into
waves of Lake Lute

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Lake Biwa is a very well known fresh water lake in the Northeastern region of Honshu (the Southern Island of Japan) and Basho has written a lot of haiku with Lake Biwa as theme. Here are a few examples:

open the lock
let the moon shine in -
Floating Temple

© Basho (Tr. David Landis Barnhill)

The "Floating Temple" (or Ukimi Temple) is located on Lake Biwa by Katada, and is reached by boat or bridge.

Mii Temple,
I'd love to knock on it's gate:
tonight's moon

© Basho (Tr. David Landis Barnhill)

Basho held a moon-viewing party at Gichuji Temple, a few miles from Mii Temple on the souther shore of Lake Biwa. Basho draws on lines from a Chinese verse by Jia Dao: "Birds sleep in trees by the pond. Under the moon, a monk knocks on the gate".

 Credits: Shinto Shrine on Lake Biwa
Credits: Shinto Shrine on Lake Biwa
All wonderful haiku by Basho about Lake Biwa .... imagine that this lake would be destroyed? Than we only had the inheritance of Basho to "see" how beautiful Lake Biwa was.

full moon
reflecting her beauty in the water
of Lake Biwa

© Chèvrefeuille

Another one a baransu styled haiku:

moonlight reflects
spring breeze scatters her beauty
I bow and pray

© Chèvrefeuille

Well .... I hope you did like this episode notwithstanding my shared thoughts about destroying history. It just had to be said ...

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 30th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our next episode, a river breeze, later on. For now ... have fun, be inspired and share your haiku with us all.

Carpe Diem Special #148, Kikaku's "above the sea"

Dear haijin, visitors and travelers,

Yesterday (May 27th) I had planned a CD-Special, but through lack of time I couldn't write that episode, so I do that now.
Our CD-Specials this month are all haiku written by disciples of Basho and today I have chosen a haiku by Kikaku (1661-1707), one of Basho's closest friends and students. Kikaku has almost the same attraction to the beauty of nature as Basho had and he (Kikaku) has written wonderful haiku. Later in his life Kikaku fell in love with the city and his haiku changed dramatically, but were all beauties. Here are two haiku written by Kikaku to inspire you all.

this wooden gate
shuts me out for the night
winter moon

above the sea
a rainbow, erased by
a flock of swallows

© Kikaku (Tr. Michael K. Bourdaghs)

Both are really beautiful in my opinion and that first one comes close to the beauty of the haiku by the master, Basho, himself. In our regular episode for today, from all directions, we also see a haiku with "gate" in it, so I think that Basho was in love with the city too, but that's just a guess.

finally home
I shut the gate of my garden
ah! the Honeysuckle

© Chèvrefeuille

Honeysuckle (my pseudonym)
This CD-Special is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until May 30th at noon (CET). Have fun!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Carpe Diem #742 under the trees (an example of the karumi-style)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This wonderful month is running to an end. We have seen a lot of beauty in Basho's haiku and through his haiku we imagined that we were in ancient Japan. After his "Narrow Road" Basho undertook several short journeys to promote his "karumi-style" haiku. One of those "karumi-style" haiku is the prompt for today, but before I introduce that haiku the following.

I love to remind you at our new Kukai "summertime", submission is open until June 15th and I love to ask you if you would like to be our substitute co-host for next month. I will take a weekend off on June19th, 20th and 21st. Do you like to experience what it is to be host at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai than please let me know (see for details our new prompt-list for June which I have published today, you can find it in the menu above).

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

Ok ... back to our haiku for today. Today I have a nice haiku written by Basho in his "karumi-style". It was Basho's belief that a haiku without a verb is "lighter" (karumi means lightness). It is true that the verb often carries with it great emotion. Without it, the poem is more matter of fact and detached. This poem for today is an example of Basho's idea karumi and it uses the associative technique. Both the blossoms and the soup and pickles are under the trees.

ki no moto ni shiru mo namasu mo sakura kana

under the trees

soup and pickles
cherry blossoms

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Association, as e.g in the baransu-haiku is a method of linking as in the thought "how different things relate or come together". The Zen-aspect of association is called "oneness" - showing how everything is part of everything else. One association that has been used so often that it has become a cliché is the Japanese association of dew and tears.

For example:

wakaba shite om me no shizuku nuguwa baya

oung leaves
I would like to wipe away
tears in your eyes

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

One of Basho's major objectives was to find new and apt associations that made the reader rethink reality and the connectedness within. Association is very important in Basho's work, he used it very often.

Karumi is a concept that Basho discovered late in life. His belief in this method of writing was so strong it compelled him to take trips while in ill health in order to bring the concept to a wider audience. Several students abandoned Basho their dislike of the method, and others, even though they said they believed in it, found it very hard to define and emulate. Looking back, it seems Basho was trying to write poetry that was less emotional. Basho seems to have believed that it is the verb that carries the emotional baggage of a poem. The poems he considered to exemplify the concept of karumi best are the ones with few or no verbs.
In our times this technique of writing haiku without a verb produces what is pejeratively called "grocery list"-haiku. The above haiku (under the trees) displays karumi in the best way.

Here are a few other "karumi-style" haiku:

was it a bush warbler
poop on the rice cake
on the veranda's edge

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

glass noodles
few slices of fish
plum blossoms

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Credits: Hydrangea

And a last one, also one of his "karumi-style" haiku:

a bush is the little garden
of a detached room

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

More about the concept of "karumi" you can find in our e-book "Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques" (chapter 8)

Here is the haiku which I used as an example in our Haiku Writing Techniques series:
slowly a snail seeks
his path between Cherry blossoms
reaches for the sky

© Chèvrefeuille
This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 29th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our next episode, from all directions, later on.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Carpe Diem #741 wrapped in a straw mat

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Today we are continuing to follow Basho. Yesterday in our "a clam" episode we finished our "Narrow Road", but Basho didn't stop with his journeys after "Narrow Road". After his "Narrow Road" he made several short journeys to several places and today our haiku wrapped in a straw mat he wrote somewhere in the near of Kyoto.

To create this episode I used a post from my archives, this post was published in 2012 at

In the old Japanese culture, and maybe even now, the year had five seasons. Next to spring, summer, autumn and winter they had the New Year season (this was the last week of the old year and the first week of the new year). This of course was when they used the lunar calendar, which is more bound to nature.
In the Western world we used the lunar calendar a long time ago. When we look at the lunar calendar one year has thirteen months instead of twelve as we now use. For example autumn in the lunar calendar starts in august instead of September. So when we talk about the lunar calendar New Year starts on February the first.
According to the lunar calendar 2012, New Year starts on January 9th. According to this, I can place the next haiku by Basho at the beginning of February, halfway our winter, because as I wrote earlier in this episode we have to go to a month later. So this haiku could be written in February.
Straw raincoat (ancient Japan)
komo wo ki te   tare bito imasu   hana no haru

wrapped in a straw mat
who can this great one be?
flowers of spring

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)
With this haiku came a preface: “Welcoming the New Year near Kyoto”. In winter plants and trees are wrapped in mats of woven straw to protect them from freezing. People also wore straw raincoats so it seemed that a person was wrapped in the mat. This is an example of the riddle technique, because it is the tree that is wrapped but it is done for the protection of the flowers which have no physical shape at this time. In our time we also try to protect plants and trees from freezing by 'making the garden ready for winter'.

winter garden
colorless and ugly -
spring flowers

© Chèvrefeuille

The riddle is probably one of the very oldest poetical techniques. It has been guessed that early spiritual knowledge was secretly preserved and passed along through riddles. Because poetry, as it is today, is the commercialization of religious prayers, incantations, and knowledge, it is no surprise that riddles still form a serious part of poetry's transmission of ideas.The 'trick' is to state the riddle in as puzzling terms as possible. What can one say that the reader cannot figure out the answer? The more intriguing the 'set-up' and the bigger surprise the answer is, the better the haiku seems to work. As in anything, you can overextend the joke and lose the reader completely. The answer has to make sense to work and it should be realistic. Here is a case against desk haiku. If one has seen plastic bags caught on cacti, it is simple and safe to come to the conclusion I did. If I had never seen such an incident, it could be it only happened in my imagination and in that scary territory one can lose a reader. So keep it true, keep it simple and keep it accurate and make it weird.

Oh, the old masters favorite trick with riddles was the one of: is that a flower falling or is it a butterfly? or is that snow on the plum or blossoms and the all-time favorite – am I a butterfly dreaming I am a man or a man dreaming I am a butterfly. Again, if you wish to experiment (the ku may or may not be a keeper) you can ask yourself the question: if I saw snow on a branch, what else could it be? Or seeing a butterfly going by you ask yourself what else besides a butterfly could that be?
One famous haiku with this "riddle technique" I had to share here with you all. I think you all will know this haiku by Arakida Moritake (1473-1549):

A fallen blossom
Returning to the bough, I thought --
But no, a butterfly.

© Moritake 

 This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 28th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode, under the tree, later on.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Carpe Diem #740 a clam

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's my pleasure to bring another wonderful episode of Carpe Diem's On The Trail With Basho in which we are following Basho in his footsteps. Today's episode a clam is about the last haiku in his Oku no Hosomichi and I love this haiku a lot.

hamaguri no   futami ni wakare   yuku aki zo
a clam
torn from its shell
departing autumn

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

This is the last verse in Basho's 'Oku no Hosomichi' 'The Narrow Road to the Far North'. Because there are several word plays at work here, the Japanese maintain that there is no way for the poem to be rendered into another language. So here goes: hama (beach); hamaguri (a clam) however 'guri' is also (a chestnut) or (a pebble). And that is only the first line! 'Futami' (place name of the port where the famous Wedded Rocks (two large rocks considered to 'married' which are considered to be sacred) are such an attraction) is made up of the words 'futa' (lid, cover, shell) and 'mu' (body, meat, fruit, nut, berry, seed, substance, contents). The word 'wakare' can be either (to part or to split) or (to leave). Added to the last line (departing autumn) 'wakare' can mean either that it is autumn which is leaving or a person who is departing. In Ogaki, Basho was met by many of his disciples, including Sora who rejoined him, for the end of the trip back to Tokyo. This verse, and the second one in 'Oku no Hosomichi' are considered the 'book-ends' of the work with partings of Spring and Autumn.
Awesome! Isn't it! This haiku is a masterpiece.

Wedded Rocks
I love to write a haiku with the same words, but with the other meaning. That will be the challenge for this episode of Carpe Diem On the Trail with Basho. Of course I have to try it myself.

a pebble-stone
taken from the Wedded Rocks
a farewell gift

autumn has gone
the only thing that remains
a chestnut

a jackstone
broken of the Married Rocks
a farewell gift

Wedded Rocks (at sunset)
a chestnut
fallen into the grass
departing autumn

on the seashore
the shell of a hermit crab

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... it wasn't easy, but I think I did well. Are these my masterpieces? Or in Basho's Spirit? I don't know. You, my dear readers, may tell me.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 27th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode, wrapped in a straw mat, later on.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Carpe Diem #739 a lovely name

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First I have to apologize because I am a bit late with posting and second, as you can see in the title of this post, I have decided to use another haiku than I had planned. I had planned "tonight my skin", but I recently used this haiku in another post here at CDHK in which I told you all a little bit more about Basho being interested in man. Another reason why I use another haiku for this post is the following. The haiku "tonight my skin" wasn't (isn't) part of his haibun "Narrow Road" which we are following these days. So therefore I have chosen the haiku which I will share hereafter.

As you all know (maybe) the most haiku known by Basho were once part of Renga, a chained poem. During his journey "into the Deep North" (Oku no Hosomichi) he was invited several times for renga-parties.
The haiku for today is the greeting verse to the host, Kosen, the chief priest of the Hiyoshi Shrine at Komatsue (which means "Little Pines"), who held a party to write a yoyashi ("a renga of forty-four links"). at a place called "Little Pines". Basho's greeting verse was the "hokku" (starting verse) of this yoyashi.

Credits: Hyoshi Shrine

shiorashiki na ya komatsu fuku hagi susuki

a lovely name
at Little Pines blows
bush clover and thatch reeds

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

A wonderful verse in my opinion. As I read it another time I can see the scene in front of my eyes and I can feel the sphere of renga-party. Awesome.

what's in a name?
Mother Nature cherishes
young green leaves

© Chèvrefeuille

What a joy and what a scene ....

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until May 26th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode, a clam, later on. For now .... have fun, be inspired and share your haiku inspired on this post with us all ....

Friday, May 22, 2015

On The Trail With Basho Encore (2) fragile twigs

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Last week I introduced a new feature here at Carpe Diem to honor "my haiku master" Basho and his haiku. I realized myself that I had forgotten to write an all new episode of "Encore" yesterday (Thursday May 21st) so here it is a new episode of our new feature "On The Trail With Basho Encore" and I think I have a nice haiku for you all.

The given haiku Basho wrote when he was 33 years old, a mature man, and he had contributed it, together with 19 other verses,to a colossal poetry contest arranged by Fûko (a rich daimyo patron). The contest was entered by over 60 poets. Kigin and Saiganji Ninko were the referee-judges.

After the contest father and son Ninko created an Anthology of the results called Roppya kuban Haikai Hokku awase (The Hokku contest in Six Hundred Rounds). It was shown that of the twenty verses Basho entered nine were published, placing him as one of the best of the participants and that made him an established master.

That's for the background ... now back to the given haiku for this week's “On The Trail With Basho Encore” episode. First I will give the Japanese verse in Romanji followed by the English translation.

eda moroshi   hi toshi yaburu    aki no kaze

fragile twigs
breaking off the scarlet papers
autumn winds

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

'Toshi' refers to a very fragile paper made in China. The idea of the poem was that even a fragile twig could tear the paper or the twigs were too fragile to hold on to the Autumn leaves.

autumn colors

I can picture this scene in front of my eyes. A stormy Autumn day, the fragile twigs, elastic as they are, ruining the scarlet papers or the soft skin of the tree, but can't stand to hold up their leaves. Fragile as the twigs are they finally break taking with them in their fall the fragile paper or skin of the tree.

To write a haiku inspired on the one by Basho, in his Spirit so to say, isn't easy, but I have to try it of course ...

autumn winds -
colorful leaves struggling
their end is near

© Chèvrefeuille

I think this one is a wonderful one (how immodest). It's for sure in the Spirit of Chèvrefeuille, but is it also in the Spirit of Basho? I don't know ..., but I think ... yes it is.
!! I am behind with commenting I hope to catch up a.s.a.p.

This episode of "Encore" is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until next Thursday May 28th at noon (CET). Have fun!

Carpe Diem #738 not permitted to tell

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

During his journey into the deep north (Oku no Hosomichi) Basho visited famous places known from poetry and literature or known from religious meaning. He visited also Mount Yudano (meaning "bathroom") a very sacred (and secretive) Shinto place. Today's episode not permitted to tell is written after his visit to Mount Yudano.

According to Jane Reichhold, Basho wrote the following haiku on Mount Yudano (bathroom). On this mountain was a spectacular waterfall which had been a Shinto place of worship since early times. Only men could visit it and only after a rigorous climb with several rituals and services in various temples. At the gate, after purification rites, they must remove their shoes to climb the rocks barefoot. In addition, before being allowed to view this wonder, each men had to swear never to reveal what he witnessed there. In modern times, in interests of disclosure, the secret of Mount Yudano has been revealed.
Due to the wearing away of the rock and the reddish minerals in the thermal-warmed water, the waterfall looks exactly like the private parts of a woman complete with sounds and gushing water. The practice can be thought of as worshiping the reproductive aspect of the feminine earth.
The priest Ekaku had asked Basho to write some poems on his visit to the three holy mountains of Dewa. Basho couldn't do that because it was an awesome experience for him and so he couldn't find the words. Also it was forbidden to talk about what he had witnessed on the mountain.

katara re nu   yudano ni nurasu   tometo kana

not permitted to tell
how sleeves are wetted
in the bathroom

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Mount Yudano

It's a strange story, but it has also something ... spiritual. To write a haiku in the same tone and sense as Basho did ... looks like climbing a mountain barefoot, but I will try.

what has happened?
petals of red roses around
the morning glory

© Chèvrefeuille

another haiku inspired by the one of Basho:

secret admirer -
petals of red roses around
my morning glory

© Chèvrefeuille

A little bit of humor. Why? ... "my morning glory" refers to a certain male body part.

Blue Morning Glory

As I created this episode I didn't need time, because on one of my other personal weblogs I revisit haiku by Basho and this haiku (with a slightly different first line) I used several years ago on that weblog. So this episode comes from my archives so to say. (That weblog is titled "Basho Revisited")

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 25th at noon (CET). I will (try to) post our next episode, tonight my skin, later on. For now .... have fun, be inspired and share your haiku with us all.

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge #86, Basho's "this autumn"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Time flies ... it's Friday again so time for a new Tan Renga Challenge in which I challenge you to write the second stanza towards the (incomplete) Tan Renga which I will give the first stanza (hokku) of. In this "Basho-month" all the Tan Renga Challenges are starting with a "hokku" by Basho and this week I have a nice haiku for you to start with. It's one who Basho wrote in the last months of his life. That feeling of death is very well described in this haiku, I easily could sense that feeling of dying ...

this autumn
why getting older is like
a bird into clouds

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

I think you all can see, feel, sense that feeling of departure, the feeling that death is closing in .... It will not be an easy task I think to complete this Tan Renga by putting the second stanza (two lines following 7-7 syllables) towards it, but .... well that's the challenge ...

Credits: Clouds
And here is my attempt to make this Tan Renga complete by putting the second stanza towards it:

this autumn
why getting older is like
a bird into clouds

colorful leaves swirl
cover up an old grave

I have tried to associate on the feeling of death and dying with this second stanza and I think it makes the Tan Renga complete.

This Tan Renga Challenge is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until next Friday May 29th at noon (CET). Have fun!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Carpe Diem #737 since the cherry blossoms

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I haven't enough time today to write a long episode so this time I have chosen to create a small piece. I think you all know that I love cherry blossoms, I have written a lot of haiku about them, so the haiku for today is just great to make, because it's about cherry trees.

As Basho started with his journey into the deep north he got a lot of gifts from his friends and he also got a few wonderful haiku to encourage him to see special places worth seeing. One of them friends was Kyohaku. Kyohaku gave him a farewell gift in the form of a haiku:

pine shows him
late cherries

© Kyohaku

The pine of Takekuma was famous in poem and fact because it was split into two trunks. In an earlier version of this poem the first five sound units were: chiri-useru "cherry blossoms have completely fallen away.

since the cherry blossoms
I've waited three months to see
the twin-trunk pine

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

I wasn't inspired enough so I just leave you with this (short) episode.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 24th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode, not permitted to tell, later on. For now ... just have fun, be inspired and share your haiku with us all.