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the axe hits

a scent of pine

in the winter woods




I met an American girl from Seattle who had a tattoo of Buson above her left breast, which she showed me in a bar selling craft beer in Pècs, Hungary.


Buson is one of what haiku poet Chèvrefeuille calls 'the big five' of classic haiku poetry, and indeed Buson strove to follow Bashô's footsteps in haiku, and literally, by tracing his journey in his 'Narrow Road to the Interior.'


The traveling, and in fact lengthy walking, is one of the endearing aspects of the haiku poets of the Edo period, and in my fervent opinion a necessary stage in the implementation of their craft. There is no doubt in my mind that without their traveling soul the classic haiku artists could never have launched haiku as they did.


Each may have had his or her own style, but both theme and topic of many of their haiku reflected their experience on the road or gave them a broader vision than a more sedentary lifestyle could afford. Buson's haiku were often lonely, sometimes mystical, or nostalgic. He used distance and space with ease and had a particular viewpoint that was sometimes a feature of his skill as a painter.


His haiku above, which I took the liberty of translating myself by touching up or tweeking an automatic translation, shows haiku at its finest, and is worth study in view of emulation. The haiku is somewhat similar in concept to Jane Reichhold's translation of the famous Bashô 'old pond' haiku:


old pond-

the frog leaps through

the sound of water




Admittedly this is only one version of the translated haiku, but the resonance can, I feel, be seen in Buson's 'axe' haiku.


Which brings me to my effort to walk the same path, though in a tanka, which strikes me as easier than a carefully-crafted haiku, and much less sincere, as tanka, being normally about love, need a much smaller dose of sincerity within their lines.


the woodpecker

has never sent a coherent message

through the forest

ah if I had the patience

of the tall pine tree









Source: http://chevrefeuillescarpediem.blogspot.com