Monthly Archives: April 2013

THREE VIEWS OF CHERRY BLOSSOMS

There is a famous spring hokku by Bashō: A cloud of blossoms — Is the bell Ueno? Asakusa? Through a cloud of blooming cherry trees, the writer hears the sound of a distant, unseen temple bell.  He wonders if it … Continue reading

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KEEPING THE BEST, DISCARDING THE REST: GOOD TASTE IN HOKKU

Long-time readers here will recall that the hokku I teach is derived only from the best aspects of the old Japanese hokku — those that tend to objectivity, poverty, simplicity, and selflessness.  That is why not everything one may find … Continue reading

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BOBBITY, BOBBITY, BLYTH

R. H. Blyth once translated a verse by Meisetsu, a late writer (1847-1926) influenced by Shiki, (the fellow who began calling verses that were generally really hokku in form “haiku”): Ryūboku ya  taburi-taburi to   haru no kawa Translating it … Continue reading

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IS HOKKU “NATURE VERSE,” OR “SEASON VERSE,” OR “TIME VERSE”?

I have recently seen the statement made that hokku is not Nature verse — that instead, it is “time verse,” with its foundation in the four seasons. The answer to that, of course, is that hokku is all of the above; … Continue reading

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NEW BRIDGES AND SPONGING RELATIVES: HUMAN QUIRKS AND SENRYU

You will recall that in addition to hokku, there is another and visually very similar kind of verse called senryu. How does one tell a senryu from a hokku?  First, senryu does not have a seasonal setting. Second, while hokku … Continue reading

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THE LISTENERS: A PEBBLE TOSSED IN A WELL OF SILENCE

In the late 1800s and first third of the 1900s, it was common for students in elementary and secondary schools to do “recitations,” a dramatic reading of a poem before a group, with the intent to make it have a … Continue reading

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THE LONG DAYS OF SPRING: BUSON AND SHIKI

 There are some hokku that do not seem quite right but nonetheless have value for what they are. There is, for example, this spring verse by Buson: Osoki hi no   tsumorite tōki   mukashi kana Long day ‘s accumulating … Continue reading

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