Thank you to those who responded with their inspirations from Bashō’s autumn haiku. From Melissa Allen, author of the haiku blog Red Dragonfly, a favorite translation:
The road here–
No traveler comes along
this autumn evening.
—trans., Makoto Ueda
And Melissa’s version:
and there’s no one
nearby to help
From Van K. Brock:
Outside, the leaves fall,
Inside, I read, alone, gold
covering the lawn.
Van Brock also offered an instructional comment on the subtle difference between “almost-there” and great haiku, by giving an illustration between a translation of a haiku written by Bashō’s student, Takarai Kikaku, and the master’s revision. Compare the difference:
Darting dragon-fly . . .
Take its shiny wings, now look . . .
Bright red pepper-pod.
Bright red pepper-pod . . .
Give it shiny wings. O, see:
I found a variation of this principle (the glass half-empty vs. half-full?) in the following anecdote, with Kikaku writing:
Red dragonfly / break off its wings / Sour cherry . . .
And Bashō responding:
Sour cherry / add wings to it / Red dragonfly . . .
Perhaps, after all, the art of haiku is as much a matter of taste as vision . . .
Toward the end of the week, in observation of All Hallow’s Eve and The Day of the Dead, I’ll be posting haiku honoring lost loved ones. Send me your tributes and we’ll light a cyberspace candle to one and all . . . haiku-style.