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Messages - chibi575

modern haiku can be any three line poem, or for that fact, any written phrase or set of phrases declared by the author to be a haiku... saddly, for some, this is mostly the case... yet this is very freeing and should be encouraged to become its own genre (as the Japanese have named modern haiku, gendai haiku).

If you want to know historically what haiku is, start with exploring Shiki, the Japanese poet that coined the word from a combination/contraction of the Japanese written in romaji, "haikai no ku" to "haiku" this done in the mid to late 1800s.  As far as I'm concerned, if it ain't Japanese it ain't haiku.  I'm calling the poems I write in English based upon Shiki's definition of haiku, "chibiku" literally "short verse" in Japanese.  Have fun with your explorations.  ;D

Al and Gabi ... thanks for the notes and comments.

If I may refer to the Introduction p15 of Haruo Shirane's "Traces of Dreams" (c) 1998:

"According to one source, Kikaku (1661-1707), one of Bashou's disciples, suggested that Bashou use yamabuki ya (globeflower!) in the opening phrase, which would have left Bashou's hokku within the circle of classical associations.  Instead Bashou worked against what was considered the "poeic essence" (bon'i), the established classical associations, of the frog.  In place of the plaintive voice of the frog singing in the rapids or calling out for his lover, Bashou gave the sound of the frog jumping into the water.  And instead of the elegant image of a frog in a fresh mountain stream beneath the globeflower (yamabuki), the hokku presented a stagnant pond.  Almost eight years later, in 1789, Buson (1716-83), an admirer of Bashou, offered this poetic meta-commentary.

jumping in
and washing off an old poem --
a frog

tobikonde | furu-uta | arau | kawazu | kana
jumping-in | old-poem | wash | frog | !

Bashou's frog, leaping into the water, washed off the old associations of the frog with classical poetry, thus establishing a new perspective.  At the same time, Bashou's hokku gave a fresh twist to the seasonal associaion of the frog with spring: the sudden movement of the frog, which suggests the awakening of life in spring, stands in contrast to the implicit winter stillness of the old pond."

Some have criticized Professor Haruo Shirane for over analyzing, but, I find his words insightfully reasonable.  Please note, Kikaku and Buson, rely on the interpretation of Bashou's "kawazu" to be a frog.  Seems a preponderance of interpretation might weigh towards the noise maker in question to be in fact  frog(s) jump into water? I would question whether Bashou's original a hokku, but rather, a haikai no ku (composed in a poet gathering for the purpose of haikai no ku rather than haikai no renga) as I have yet to see evidence that the old pond poem was included in a haikai no renga.  Does this make a difference?  I intuit, yes, but, have little evidence to discern such.

I am looking forward to your professor's explanation (if he gives permission).

For all I know it was a kappa no haikai no ku!   ;D ::)
asa-gao san,

I certainly feel a "leap" of faith to believe there is no frog when Bashou himself alluded later to such, I believe; and, this is neither an and or nor to have two schools of thoughts on this mulilayered poem.  I know it is a bit of an initiation in Japan to discuss just how many frogs (or possibly minnow or pond denizen) there were in Bashou's famous poem.  In fact, in the museum dedicated to Edo in Tokyo, representing Bashou's frog looks more a toad!  The antiquity of fact merges to myth in this case.

What was your intial "feel" when you first read or heard Bashou's poem?

I have to admit mine was complete dismay on how this poem could have ever leaped into notoriety as a master level poem.  Yet, as more an more I read and acquired expierences associated with the poem did I get a "forced" depth.

Quote from: asa-gao on August 14, 2011, 01:51:08 PM
Finally - someone to discuss with, this  ;D

The difficulty with this translation resides in modern definitions vs the ancient context in which the verse was written.  Speaking from a modern perspective then yes, very simplified verse ... exploring the ancient definitions however, reveals perhaps something more, and too the influence over Basho of Saigyō Hōshi.

From speaking with a Professor at Sheffield university in England, i learned a few things about the language and definitions of the words used in the original verse. Was shocked to learn there was no frog but rather only allusion to an unspecified water creature, but certainly no frog.

The words used to describe an ancient pond - in original context, imply comparison to the universe, and of how there may a appear a surface stillness, yet much goes on beneath - along with actual instruction to - behold this (in awe).

The sound of water, speaks of contrast between a "leaping" into said universe; a momentary silence; and then the sound of entry into the universe (or pool of life); which results in some unspecified musical event that is new and yet eternal as time itself, like a splash of water.

Isn't that something?

Well... asa-gao san, I think there is nothing "certain" about the poem (which is the mark of a masterpiece and classic).  So, I must disagree about the uncertainty of the frog or toad.  Some critics have pointed out this was most likely a memory from Bashou based upon him being near a pond or pool near one of his many transient "huts".  Surely, there is a certain degree of ambiguity as to one or many frogs/toads (most likely a frog as toads do not live in ponds), just as "hachi" 蜂 can mean bee or wasp (totally different insects) you may notice the first kanji in the combination similar to 蛙, too!?  At any rate, your professor's suggestion excluding "frog" as a possible candidate is (with respect) misguided, I feel.

I get the feeling that like the asagao of Chiyo-ni's famous verse (which she later lamented its popularity) the kawazu of Bashou might be over analyzed and if we ever have a time machine that allows returning to the past, might find, it's simply a poem about pond noise!   ;D


If we take and explore the Japanese rather than the romaji, I feel this best.

古 - old, ancient (a thing not a person)
池 - pond, pool (refers to the idea of "storage" when used in connection with other kanji)
や - a poetic kana in Japanese poetry to demark emphasis on the previous word or phrase
蛙 - frog, toad (using older kanji from Chinese)
飛 - kanji denoting flying through the air
込む -kanji + hiragana denoting crowded
飛び込む - taken together as one the meaning is "leap into" or "jump into"
水 - kanji for "water"
の - (possessive form equivalent to the English "'s") in this case, "water's")
音 - kanji for "sound or musical note"

As you are well aware there are hundreds of interpretative "translations" of Bashou's haikai no ku (not haiku for "haiku" is a word coined by Shiki hundreds of years later).

There are clues within the poem as to the feeling:

old pond may be an allusion to sameness
frog kanji used in the idiom "like father like son" refering to same old same old again emphasizing "oldness"
the "leap" or "jump" has change associated with the idea
"water's sound or note"  might be an allusiong to change for water is associated with change and sound a mark of epiphany?

So... although on the "surface" this poem is about the sound of frog in an old pond as the results of jumping, Bashou may have been conveying many layers of meaning and feeling in the context of his times.

Then again... its just Bashou at an old scum covered pond enjoying the sound of frog jumps into the water... a muffled note as the frog hits the surface scum rather than if hitting a clean new pond?

awe-men  to that!!
In-Depth Haiku: Free Discussion Area / Re: 1000 chews
August 04, 2011, 03:05:47 PM
Hi Alan!

Is the re-reading as the chewing or is it the ah-ha... hmmm... ah-ha?

What of a short poem allows or triggers or stimulates more mastication, do you feel?

Some of the more chewed short poems have often the WTF? factor to me.  This maybe the author (knowing or not-knowing her/him, certain flavors of word usage and words, poem components, my mood, my muse's moood... just to mention a few things), so, it's not the number of times a poem is read, necessarily, although, that is one aspect, it's the other things that are part of the chew.

I'm thinking also of "glance poems" and "flash poems", too, that may make up the majority of modern treatment of short poems.  It may be the many chews but one spit.  Do one ever go back and chew again?

... jus a few marbles rolling around tis all

In-Depth Haiku: Free Discussion Area / 1000 chews
August 04, 2011, 12:22:22 PM
In our instant access world culture and our growing penchant for short attention spans (BTW have I lost you already?), is the short poem the equivalent of fast-food faster (fb, twitter, blog, etc., ...)?

I saw a movie about survival in the POW camps of WWII, and, a technique recommended to a young boy in the camp was to chew a bite of food 1000 times.  This, also, I believe metaphorical and spiritual.

Could this technique ever be embraced for our short (attention span) poems?  I just wonder?!

If so, how and why would a poet (reader/writer) do it?


the last leaf
... on the way down
I turn away

(Don, we never get to the unknown, simply.  My offering).
I'm usually on the "late" part of contemplate.

When do we get to the unknown?   :-\
Religio / Re: Buddhist Haiku
July 25, 2011, 06:49:37 PM
Is this a category of English haiku?  I have just read, "Book of Haikus" by Jack Kerouac and he discusses this association with Japanese hokku/haiku.  Although, many Japanese poets were/are Buddhist, the Buddhist angle (if you will permit my hyperbole) is not usually associated with the haiku in Japan.  Certainly, there are aspects of Buddhism practice that may lend themselves to an awareness that will help in the delicate foci that are encountered in writing Japanese poetry, but, this is more an aside.  I have yet met any Japanese that were drawn to haiku through Buddhism.  This may be because the haiku as a children teaching tool is introduced rather early to show counting and vocabulary.

I am not a Buddhist, so, I am speaking from my own limited experiences.

I think sometimes that we Ameircans are drawn to the exotic Eastern arts from a different perspective than those in the East, being, that we are exotic to Asians as they are to us... haha, true and ironic I feel.

That is why, I believe, that calling what we write as their Japanese name gives a certain feeling towards this exoticism.  For a good starting insight in to this, I recommend, Robin D. Gill's "Orientalism & Occidentalism: is mistranslating culture inevitable?"

I think all the poems I've seen so far stand on their own irrespective of Buddhism (as I am not a Buddhist) I feel so, anyway.

Perhaps, some have an underlying principle of Buddhism that they demonstrate was the intent of the author?

Jus my $.02

Dear Mark,

My apology, with your explanations I am eggfaced.   :-[

write on... keep it  8)
Quote from: Mark Harris on July 25, 2011, 02:12:54 PM
to ride on a motorcycle or any open air vehicle at high velocity is a speedrush. A miscalculation in steering or leaning, a pebble in the road, a blink of an eye at the wrong moment . . . if you want to live, attention to the operation at hand is vital. Put out of your mind such minor matters as syllable counts and nationalism and warring saijiki and cops and wolves. Go, Kaneko, go, but remember to write the haiku down later.

I agree with you upto, "nationalism", this, is and never has been the issue, I feel, also, perhaps a certain discipline (in terms of the meaning of sensei "those that go before" might be a courteous concideration).  Although, I think your remarks in an a courteous spirit, I take issue in calling "cops" and "wolves" as a way of demonizing those of different opinions.

I understand the idea behind the word "free" applied to verse, but, there is always a cost and possible collateral damage.  To end in cliche': "There is no free lunch..."

I do quite agree, that if you do not care for a certain style not to embrace it is well within your rights.

keep it  8)
Dear Jack,

I asked of traditional, but, I see your gendai point, thank you.  In Japan, some have and continue to argue/discuss this point.  If you think it finalized in the Japanese haiku community, I think you and Mr. Kohta were/are too optimistic.  Perhaps, this the reason to turn into a motorcycle?

Keep it 8)

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