CHORA’S CLOUDS

Here is a hokku by Chora that requires a rather interpretive translation to make sense in English.

Autumn begins;
In the flowing clouds
The wind is seen.

The flow of clouds in the sky reveals the wind — the first sign of the wind of autumn that will become more and more obvious as the season progresses.  It is the wind that carries the clouds across the sky.

In the Japanese original, it is like this:

Autumn begins;
Clouds flowing —
The wind is seen.

If one reads that before the interpretive translation however, English speakers are likely to fail to see the connection between the clouds and the wind, which is why an interpretive translation makes the relationship clear — and thus is better.

Aki tatsu ya kumo wa nagarete kaze miyuru
秋   たつ や    雲     は  ながれて   風   見 ゆる
Autumn begins ya cloud wa flow wind is-seen

Remember that a hokku should be simple and clear; one should not have to puzzle it out.  Its effect on the reader should be immediate.  Vagueness was sometimes found in old Japanese hokku, but it was a flaw rather than a virtue, and should not be emulated when composing in English.

 

David

3 thoughts on “CHORA’S CLOUDS

  1. clivebennett796

    I would have thought that most people now will know that ‘mares tails’ are indicative of wind just as ‘mackerel skies generally predict a change in the weather pattern. However it’s use perhaps is better suited to modern haiku than hokku. Maybe that’s the point you are making!

  2. “Remember that a hokku should be simple and clear; one should not have to puzzle it out.” A main difference between hokku and a lot of haiku, today, I think! Thanks, David.

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