Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Matsushima haiku

(based on suggestions from @marklawrence, @realnixwilliams and @iFigaro2u)


Basho curved the pines

Rocks blossom in morning light!

Matsushima grew


Magnificent view,

beautiful view, enchanting

view, grand view! Spring view.


Streets wave with tall pines

to the auto repair shops -

cars are washed along


Lost to my autumn…

Still standing in his haiku

Matsushima, ah.


Today’s haiku are based on suggestions from 3 peeps:

  • @marklawrence: “Please write more haiku again soon, in memory of those lost in the tragedy in Japan.”
  • @realnixwilliams: “a street lined with auto repairs shops”
  • @iFigaro2u: “morning light”

My previous haiku post, with explanation of the form, is here.

Today’s requests brought me back to quintessential haiku poet Matsuo Basho. His most famous text is a haibun (a combination of prose and haiku) work called Narrow Road to the Interior, and it took him at one point to Matsushima (one of the canonical Three Views of Japan). Narrow Road is a kind of zen travel journey, where Basho visits on foot sites in Japan that the classical poets wrote about, to see them for himself, and to renew his artistic self: “the everlasting self that is poetry” (a phrase I really like). It’s a pretty awesome read, if you’re interested.

A well-known haiku additionally attributed to him (not in Narrow Road) was reportedly written upon seeing Matsushima for the first time, and implies that even for a poet of his descriptive capabilities, the view was so breathtaking that nothing more could be said:

Matsushima, ah!
A-ah, Matsushima!
Matsushima, ah!

Yesterday morning I saw this tweet:

harikunzru: Matsushima, one of 3 most famous views in #Japan, celebrated in haiku by Basho, is gone.

The horrors unfolding in Japan at the moment are manifold and the human crisis is so big as to be incomprehensible to me. I haven’t really been able to look at much of it or read much about it. While the damage in Matsushima is reportedly not as bad as in other areas, this piece of news about a landscape really struck me.

This perhaps sounds callous on my part, and my main concern is of course for the people of Japan, but I think it was something I could get my head around in one go.

I am in two minds about these haiku. It seems somehow useless to write them, like if I tweeted #prayersforJapan instead of actually donating (my ridiculously small amount of) money to the relief effort. I think I will think of these poems not as being ‘for’ anyone or as if they should ‘do’ anything. They are my small response to a comprehensible part of something incomprehensible.


ernmalleyscat said...

I too saw a reference to Basho, and googled to find that Matsushita one, and liked it. I think your ii. haiku is a fitting tribute.
On the subject of haiku, @catwall on Twitter did a beauty with pop culture reference and perfect form that I think you'll like --
I see you driving/'Round town with the girl I love/And I'm like "haiku!"

Anna said...

Hee, that's neat. Twitter is well suited to haiku!