Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mind, Mouth and Page - 14 (Haiku continues)


[Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827) - Self-Portrait]

"Picked up on a pilgrimage/ and put together/ the scarecrow" - "Harvest sparrows/ Shot by the arrow of the scarecrow/ they fell into the sea" ("Shot by the scarecrow's arrow/ The harvest sparrows/ fell into the sea") - "In this fleeting world/ the scarecrow also/ has eyes and a nose" - Wild boar - "The autumn tempest/ blows along also/ even wild boars" ((see?) so he doesn't have to say it's a big tempest) - "The morning glories/ in the faces of men/ there are faults" (Issa) - "The maiden flower/ stands there/ vacantly" (Issa, again) - Shiki, a haiku artist, this is a great classic - "A hundred different gourds/ from the mind/of one vine" - Shiki judged a haiku contest in which thousands and thousands of haiku were presented - "Examining/three thousand haiku/ two persimmons"

Student: Or two haiku there, maybe

AG: Well, you could say two. I was just guessing maybe it's a haiku about (persimmons). Maybe there's two haiku, probably, yeah. - "Night/ biting the frozen brush/ with a remaining tooth" (Gregory Corso! ) - ""Night/ biting the frozen brush/ with a remaining tooth" (Buson)

Student: Allen, isn't that brush the brush with which they write?

AG: Oh yeah, of course. I was all goofed up. I was thinking it was a horse or something! - Of course - "Biting the frozen brush" - so it's a poor artist, like poor calligraphy - "Night/ biting the frozen bush/ with a remaining tooth" (that's an old calligrapher, probably Buson himself, the haiku artist).

Many of these were done in relation to real fast sharp calligraphic drawings of the precise scene or situation, visually, that accompanied the haiku. In fact, the haiku were very often simply little commentaries on a brush drawing.

"Not a single stone to throw/ at the dog/ the winter moon" (the winter moon) - "Not a single stone to throw/ at the dog/ the winter moon" - "The first winter rain/ and my name shall be called/ Traveller" (Basho) - Basho's death verse (Basho is considered the most solid and sublime of the haiku artists, and this is his death haiku, death verse) - "Ill on my journey/ my dreams/ wander over a withered moor".

Student: Could you read that again?

AG: "Ill on my journey/ my dreams/ wander over a withered moor".

And two final verses by Issa - "The ten nights" (I've forgotten at this point what the holiday was or what the suggestion was) - "The ten nights/ Various sorts of nitwits/ on a moonlit evening". And Issa's most moving haiku (very complicated to translate) - "naki haha ya umi miru tabi ni miru tabi ni" - "When I see the ocean/ whenever I see it/ Oh mother!" - Well, the translation is so crude. It's (literally) "a dead ma oh ocean sea time at". Dead mother Oh dead ma, oh, ocean sea time at", or "When I see the ocean/ whenever I see it/ whenever I see the ocean" - the repetition is "whenever I see the ocean" - "Whenever I see the ocean/ Oh mother!" "Oh, my mother". "My dead mother". It's very beautiful that "umi miru tabi ni miru tabi ni" for the ending.

So I wonder if I have any more here? Yeah, another Issa, yes - "I'm alone I said/ he wrote it down in the register/How chilly the autumn night" (so he's traveling, he's registering in a hotel) - "I'm alone I said/ he wrote it down in the register/How chilly the autumn night" (So, actually, what he's saying is like the frog - his loneliness, or his solitude, but all the space of his solitude with a whole chilly autumn night - the whole scene - traveling, registering at a hotel - "Are you with somebody?" "Is your wife with you waiting outside?" - in the motel, you know? - "I'm alone I said/ he wrote it down in the register/How chilly the autumn night"
Well all of these depend on bare attention, bare mindfulness, fact..almost all. Occasionally there might be an emotional generalization, like "Oh mother!" or "I'm alone, I said" - so that's a fact also.

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