More from Bashō, et. al. . . .

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:
night fall–
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:

Kikaku’s version:
Darting dragon-fly . . .
Take its shiny wings, now look . . .
Bright red pepper-pod.

Bashō’s response:
Bright red pepper-pod . . .
Give it shiny wings. O, see:
Brilliant dragonfly.

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.



About Margaret Dornaus

I’m a writer and a teacher, as well as a haiku-doodler. I live in a beautiful woodland setting, surrounded by native oak forests, that inspires me to record haiku snapshots of luna moths and our resident roadrunner, and even an occasional black bear as it hightails it across the top of my road, my mongrel dog barking at its heels as I watch with wonder. My work as a travel writer has appeared in publications from The Dallas Morning News to the Robb Report. You can find examples of my travel writing–as well as excerpts from a travel memoir I’m working on–at my other WordPress site, Travelin’ On. What more than that do you need to know? Only that I started this blog with an eye toward collaboration. Got a haiku? Send it my way. . . . I’m all about new visions & voices. Best, Margaret
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6 Responses to More from Bashō, et. al. . . .

  1. Hi Margaret,

    What to say in an ‘aha moment’ like I feel now, visiting your blog:

    stepping into a path
    the meadow opens–
    not just buttercups

    And my haiku for my beloved dead if any of them is fit for inclusion:

    groping for words
    to mean tears

    after ten years
    the whiff of his shaving lotion
    from a stranger

    from memory his figure
    rises and stays mute

    his smile—
    too foggy to find
    among well-wishers

    Te Deum—
    counting the hymns
    before the last kiss

    I love your haiku in Melissa’s 300th event!


  2. echostains says:

    Thanks for participating in the Weeping Woman Poetry Challenge Margaret – much appreciated! You have a very nice interesting Haiku blog by the way:)
    Your entry can be seen here

  3. Thank you again, Lynda, for your thought-provoking “Weeping Woman” Post. And thank you for the kind remarks as well.

  4. MLA says:

    Margaret — thought you might be interested in this haiku that appeared today on Fay Aoyagi’s blog “Blue Willow Haiku World.” It’s her translation of a Japanese haiku that seems to me also to be referencing Basho’s haiku:

    still lonely after selecting
    a different road—
    autumn dusk

    — Atsushi Azumi

    • Interesting . . . Thanks, Melissa. I’ll check out her blog. It certainly does sound like the Basho . . . .

      Don’t forget that later this week (probably tomorrow or Saturday) I’ll be posting memorial haiku in honor of All Saint’s Day. Your haiku for your father (or another one) would be a welcome addition.

  5. MLA says:

    walking alone
    down this autumn road —
    don’t ditch me

    I just posted this over at Rick Daddario’s blog 19 Planets as part of his “ku-me” game (which is great fun) in response to the prompt “ditch.” I continue to be inspired by your challenge to respond to Basho … thanks, Margaret. 🙂

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