Saturday, November 5, 2011


I'm hoping to see 習字の先生 tomorrow, so I'm looking around online for an autumn-themed haiku to start working on. Found a potentially funny post on Yahoo Japan:
At first I was posting this because the question struck me as funny: "Are there any haiku about autumn?" Yes—several! But the third line confuses me: original de kigo o irete kudasai—please add seasonal the original? using the original? I don't quite get the sense of it. The response haiku all seem to be original, though, so I guess the sense must be "make it original, and use seasonal words".

Too bad they're original, because I liked this one:
わたくしも 枯葉と一緒に 枯れて行く
wakushi mo kareha to issho ni kareteiku
I (too) (am) wither(ing) / will wither with the leaves
Not morose at all.

But back to 秋についての句。 Autumn themes/kigo include dragonflies, harvest, sunset, full moon, orchid, chrysanthemum, autumn leaves, fallen leaves, maple, mushrooms, deer, etc. I'm not sure how strictly autumnal I want to be, though; it's November, and we've already had our first snowfall, and though the sun is bright there's a persistent chill. Almost heavy-coat weather. So, probably nothing about harvests or even insects, particularly since it'll be a long time before I can write the new poem with even minimal competence.


So many choices; how does one begin? I was thinking of writing about maple leaves, but when I look out my window, I see that harsh sunlight that's peculiar to this time of year, the kind that soon will be glaring off the snow.

I can't overstate the coolness of this haiku database. I'm currently browsing in plant keywords, summer, set 2, and the subdivisions of this screen alone are incredibly detailed: new leaves, overgrowth, many leaves, darkness under trees, green shade, new persimmon leaves, new beech leaves, new evergreen oak leaves, new camphor leaves, young maple, summer willow, diseased leaves, and 38 more categories. Each category contains about 150 poems. So (per cursory math) there must be almost 2 million haiku here. Bewildering!

Well, it was Halloween just last week, and there are still lantern-light tours of Philadelphia going on, so maybe something about flickering light (明滅). Many options.

[time passes]

I think I'll go back to the one I liked so much at first, Bashou's "lonely road". I don't think I've written anything by Bashou, so.

この道や 行く人なしに 秋の暮れ

kono michi ya
yuku hito nashi ni
aki no kure

on this road,
no one is traveling
in the autumn dusk
Or something like that. Here's a page that explores the poem and some of its translations and interpretations. The dusk and loneliness push it winterward, and apparently it was written on November 13, so it seems a solid choice. And the thought has almost universal applications; I can see myself posting it outside my office at work. It's a bit dramatic, though, so I'll keep looking.

1 comment:

  1. kinokage-san

    I am not sure what the writer meant by "original de kigo o irete kudasai", but the first thing appear in my mind after reading it was "please invent a new kigo that anyone have never used." But I am not sure.