Thursday, June 7, 2012

夏についての句。 (Summer haiku!)

Now that summer is officially upon us—well, as of a month ago in kigo time—it's just about time to wish a fond sayounara to the stone bridge–and–camellias tanka I've been working on and move back to summer themes. (椿 tsubaki, camellias, are a spring theme; the kanji radicals are literally tree + spring.) So, below is a stab at some haiku from a book that 習字の先生 gave us. The book divides them by period of summer, according to the old lunar calendar (officially out of use since 1873 but well worth reading about).

shoka (or, more amusingly, hatsunatsu)
early summer

kokoro koko ni naki ka nakanu ka hototogisu
cuckoo, is your mind on your singing, or not?
井原西鹤—IHARA Saikaku (aka Kakuei) (1642–1693)
ノート: Pun/witticism on the phrase "kokoro koko ni arazu" (心ここに有らず), to be distracted or not fully paying attention to the task at hand. from Chinese 心不在焉,視而不見,聴而不聞 (rendered in Japanese as 心焉ニ在ラザレバ、視レドモ見エズ、聴ケドモ聞コエズ—kokoro koko ni arazareba, miredo mo miezu, kikedo mo kikoezu "if you're not paying attention (if your mind/heart "isn't in residence"), you can look (視) but not see (見), listen (聴) but not hear (聞)". Or, maybe: "though one may look, [it] is not visible; though one may listen, [it] can't be heard". The book's editor suggests (I think) that the poet is wondering whether the reason why he can't hear the cuckoo is that the bird is singing carelessly (and thus can't be heard), or that the bird isn't singing at all. Interestingly, Ihara seems to have been at the vanguard of the literary tradition of (bawdy) stories of town merchants that developed into the ukiyo ("floating world") aesthetic that's now so closely identified with woodblock prints (Hiroshige, Hokusai, etc.). I've been reading one of his books.

hototogisu ika ni kijin mo tashika ni kike
the cuckoo's calling—angry gods, listen up!

西山宗因—NISHIYAMA Souin (1605–1682)
ノート (from the book):This "ika ni" (以下に) is borrowed from the Noh play "田村" (Tamura) and is often seen ("見れらる"—typo in the book?) in old haiku. (I looked at the text of Tamura and did find a mention of an angry/fierce god [鬼神]—"a roar of a demon, shaking rivers and mountains, echoed in the sky and filled the earth..." but nothing in its context that justifies いか beyond the sense of "below".) (Nishiyama is associated with the Danrin "laughing forest" haiku style, lighter and wittier than the "bookishness" [e.g., Bashou's] that was otherwise popular at the time. Apparently, Nishiyama studied with Bashou but then went back to his own style. Ihara above was his student.)
Correction: "ika ni" is 如何に—how, how much, etc.

me ni ha ooba yama hototogisu hatsugatsuo
before my eyes, fresh leaves, mountain cuckoo—season's first bonito
山口素堂—YAMAGUCHI Sodou (1642–1716)

Per the book's notes, first-bonito is a specialty in Kamakura. Apparently they usually show up in fish markets in May, the first catch released for sale (by law) on the first day of the fourth month of the lunar calendar. ("Hatsugatsuo" has furigana in the book, but the last character is を, not お. ?!)

shizukasa ya iwa ni shimihairu semi no koe
silence—the cicada's voice pierces the rocks
松尾芭蕉—MATSUO Bashou (1644–1694)
Book's note: This isn't the midsummer locust (盛夏の蝉), but the early locust. (The editor knows this how?) (Note that the book uses what I think must be an older form of semi, with two 口 at top right. Henshall doesn't list it.)

samidare o atsumete hayashi mogamigaha
uppermost river (?), collecting early-summer rain 
松尾芭蕉—MATSUO Bashou (1644–1694)

uki ware o sabishigaraseyo kankodori
make me lonelier, sake cup—cuckoo
松尾芭蕉—MATSUO Bashou (1644–1694)
Book's ノート: The cuckoo has (also) been called "kankodori" since long ago. This is a haiku about living alone and is famous for its "sabi" feel. (The aesthetic concept of sabi is hugely important, though to me still obscure; in tea specifically, it refers to the sheen, slight damage, etc., that things—tea bowls, etc.—acquire with years of use; desirable. But the kanji is the same as for loneliness, 寂しさ, so it also has a sense of poignancy, impermanence, isolation.) (See also this, about Bashou, Li Po, and the poet's three friends: moon, shadow, and sake cup. Raising the cup, we greet the bright moon / With my shadow we become three.)

sayataki (??) no mizu kumiyosete tokoro ten
(This one stumps me. Something about water collecting from the pure/clear/bright waterfall, and then some kind of ooze? To borrow a phrase from 上級へのとびら, 分かんないなぁ。。。。)
松尾芭蕉—MATSUO Bashou (1644–1694)

Many more, but for now.


  1. 二句目の時鳥いかに...の「いかに」は「以下に」ではなくて「如何に」でしょう。 
    最後の句の清瀧は「きよたき」で京都の嵯峨野の奥にある滝の水で作った「ところてん」 (Japanese Jelly)を詠んだ夏らしい句ですね。

  2. Tibonchinaさん、どうもありがとうございました。I'll correct 如何に. I'd never heard of 嵯峨野 but will look it up!