japonisme: she may be princess of haiku but she's also the queen of the mums

02 April 2008

she may be princess of haiku but she's also the queen of the mums


kaizan wa bashô-sama
nari kiku no kana

the sect founder
is Great Basho...

Issa describes the devotion to chrysanthemums -- raising and admiring them -- as a Buddhist sect, whose "founder" (kaizan) is none other than the great haiku poet, Matsuo Bashô.

Translation © 2008 David G. Lanoue

My eyes which had seen all came back,
 Back to the white chrysan- themums.

Issho (ca. 1688)

Translation © 2008 Asatarō Miyamori

(comb from the wonderful barbaraanne's comb blog)

So deep into autumn
their fellow flowers
are all gone—
if the frost would only hold off,
leave me the incomparable chrysanthemums!

Saigyō (1118–90)

Translation © 2008 Burton Watson


I built my hut beside a traveled road
Yet hear no noise of passing carts and horses.
You would like to know how it is done?
With the mind detached, one's place becomes remote.
Picking chrysanthemums by the eastern hedge
I catch sight of the distant southern hills:
The mountain air is lovely as the sun sets
And flocks of flying birds return together.
In these things is a fundamental truth
I would like to tell, but lack the words.

T'ao Ch'ien [or T'ao Yuan-ming Ch'ien T'ao ] (365–427)

Translation © 2008 James Robert Hightower

I built my hut in a zone of human habitation,
Yet near me there sounds no noise of horse or coach.
 Would you know how that is possible?
A heart that is distant creates a wilderness round it.
I pluck chrysanthemums under the eastern hedge,
Then gaze long at the distant-summer hills.
The mountain air is fresh at the dusk of day:
The flying birds two by two return.
In these things there lies a deep meaning;
Yet when we would express it, words suddenly fail us.

T'ao Ch'ien [or T'ao Yuan-ming Ch'ien T'ao ] (365–427)

Translation © 2008 Arthur Waley


Fortune and misfortune
 have no fixed abode;
This one and the other
 are given us in turn
Shao Ping working
 in his field of melons
Was much as he had been
 when Lord of Dongling.
Cold and hot seasons
 follow one another,
And the way of man
 will always be like this
The intelligent man
 sees that it must be so.
Having gone so far
 he will not doubt again,
But from that moment
 every day and evening
He will be happy
 holding a cup of wine.

The Tao has been lost
 nigh on a thousand years
And people everywhere
 are misers of their feelings
Though they have wine
 they do not dare to drink it,
And think of nothing save
 keeping their reputation.
All the things that make us
 care about our lives —
They are surely compassed
 within a single lifetime
And how much can that life
 amount to after all —
Swift as the surprise
 of pouring lightning,
Fixed and circumscribed
 within a hundred years —
Hemmed and bound to this
 what can we hope to do?

I built my house near where others dwell,
And yet there is no clamor of carriages and horses
You ask of me. “How can this be so?”
“When the heart is far the place of itself is distant.”
I pluck chrysanthemums under the eastern hedge,
And gaze afar towards the southern mountains
The mountain air is fine at evening of the day
And flying birds return together homewards
Within these things there is a hint of Truth,
But when I start to tell it, I cannot find the words.

In the clear dawn
 I hear a knocking at my gate
And skirt on wrong way round
 go to open it myself
I ask the visitor
 “Pray, sir, who may you be?”
It is an old peasant
 who had a kindly thought,
And has come from far away
 bearing a jug of wine,
Because he thinks I am
 at variance with the times
“Sitting in patched clothes
 under a thatched roof —
This will never help you
 to get on in the world!
All the world together
 praises that alone,
So I wish, sir, that you too
 would float with the muddy stream”
“Old man, I am deeply
 grateful for your words,
But your advice does not accord
 with my inborn nature.
Even if I could learn
 to follow the curb and reins,
To go against one's nature
 is always a mistake
Let us just be happy
 and drink this wine together —
I fear my chariot
 can never be turned back.”

T'ao Ch'ien [or T'ao Yuan-ming Ch'ien T'ao ] (365–427)

Translation © 2008 William Acker

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Blogger Princess Haiku said...

So dazzled was Princess Haiku by the beauty of the new Japonisme post, that she did the only thing possible. She left a white chrysanthemum behind and promised to return with a haiku written for darling, Lotusgreen.

03 April, 2008 22:49  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i shall cherish the flower, princess, and wait with as much patience i can manage

04 April, 2008 00:14  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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