japonisme: a man for all seasons: 1910

01 March 2010

a man for all seasons: 1910


waga kuni wa saru mo kitô wo shitari keri

in my province
even trained monkeys
offer prayers!


meigetsu no gyomei dai ka ya shiro usagi

are you the harvest moon's
white rabbit

Instead of seeing, as some Westerners do, a man on the moon, Japanese people perceive the outline of a rabbit. Shinji Ogawa notes that gyomei dai or gomyô dai means a "representative" in this context. The rabbit is representing the moon on earth, Issa quips.


yu no sato to yobi-somuru hi ya mura tsubame

today they're flying
in the bathhouse town...
swallow swarm

Mura in this haiku is not "village"; it refers to something that is bunched together with other things of the same class, i.e., in this case, a flock; Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 1602.


kono kado no kasumu tasoku ya sumida no tsuru

at the gate
so many in the mist!
Sumida River cranes

year unknown

kogarashi ya negura ni mayou yû-garasu

winter wind--
he can't find his roost
the evening crow

Hiroshi Kobori comments on the word, kogarashi ("winter wind"). In early Japanese poetry, this refers to the wind that blows through trees, breaking branches and turning the leaves brown. By Issa's time it means "a dry windy day during the late autumn-deep winter season."
It is classified as a winter season word.


kami no saru nomi mite kureru ko haru kana

sacred monkeys
pick each other's fleas...
a spring day in winter

Literally, the monkeys are "the god's monkeys" (kami no saru), implying that the scene is taking place on a sacred mountain,
probably near a Shinto shrine.

"Little spring" (ko haru) refers to mild, clear weather in the
Eleventh and Twelfth Months.

all haiku by issa, and translations, and commentary from here

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Blogger zoe said...

another gorgeous post, thank you!
the peacocks are so beautiful, and the birds that look as if they are wearing powdered white wigs...
i love the haiku of the rabbit, and find your notes on specific words very enlightening and fascinating!

02 March, 2010 07:49  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thanks so much,zoe.

i wish i could claim the wisdom in those words, but they belong to david lanuoe, the translator.

02 March, 2010 10:22  
Anonymous Walter Schwager said...

Thanks for posting Hoytema - although I studied in Leiden, where he worked, collected Art Nouveau there, and love Japonisme, I had forgotten about him. Another blog also posted about him, http://theanimalarium.blogspot.com/2010/01/centenary-birds.html

with a link to his famous Dutch children's book illustrations:


10 November, 2010 18:04  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thanks, walter. yes, the woman at animalarium let me use some of her scans for this set. if you'll check near the top you'll find a compilation of almost all of the posts i did of his calendars. i don't believe as complete a set of his calendars exists anywhere, at least on line or in print (or even out of print).

10 November, 2010 19:22  

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