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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Issa's Dewdrop Haiku Wrap-Up...

Detail of image by Heiko Stein on Pixabay.

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers - Here's to the last Poetry Friday of Poetry Month, a bonus fifth one this year! :0)  I hope the full moon has smiled on you this week. 

 

Thank you for deliving into dewdrops over here this month with recently translated Issa haiku from Dr. David G. Lanoue, author, poet, professor, musician, former Haiku Society of America president, and Issa scholar. And many thanks to David for allowing me to share these gems.  Learn more about David here, and more about Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) here , as well as through David's many wonderful books!

 

During pandemic lockdown, David decided to add to his 10,000-plus Issa haiku translation archive by translating several hundred more poems, on various themes.  One of these themes was dewdrops, and I fell in love with these haiku and wanted to share them, with David's kind permission.  Remember, you can search David's translations of Issa haiku on a variety of topics using the online tool here, and you can follow along on Twitter here to read a different Issa poem each day. 

 

The first post in my Poetry Month blog series was an introduction to David, Issa, and dewdrops; the second focused on 'pearls' of dewdrop haiku; the third on humorous Issa dewdrop haiku; and the fourth on more dewdrop poems with some cicadas thrown in, in light of Brood X. For today's post, I wanted to share a few of the translations with a decidedly spiritual bent, as Issa's poems about "this dewdrop world" are inextricably connected to his devotion to Pure Land Buddhism.

 

For a much deeper discussion of these matters, you can read David's 2008 article in The Eastern Buddhist, "The Haiku Mind," on JSTOR. [Lanoue, David G. "The Haiku Mind: Issa and Pure Land Buddhism." The Eastern Buddhist, vol. 39, no. 2, 2008, pp. 159–176. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/44362411.] In it, he describes Issa's perspectives on Paradise, which also describe his poetry:  "Amida Buddha's Paradise is revealed when one opens one's heart to nature - looking, listening, and deeply appreciatating."

 

Here are some treasures from David's archives, with his commentary following the poems:

 

1813

 

.朝露に浄土参りのけいこ哉


asa tsuyu ni jôdo mairi no keiko kana

 

in morning dew
a reaching-the-Pure-Land
lesson

 

 

1812

 

.白露のてれん偽りなき世哉

shira tsuyu no teren itsuwari naki yo kana

 

this world--

the silver dewdrops

aren't lying

 

The shimmering dewdrops are telling the truth about life (from a Buddhist perspective): nothing abides.

 

 

1816

 

.露の身は同じ並びぞ仏達

 

tsuyu no mi wa onaji narabi zo hotoke-tachi

 

life of dewdrops--

just the same

as the Buddhas

 

Dewdrops experience (in Issa's imagination) the brevity of life--a key insight of Buddhism.

 

 

1826

 

.置露や我は草木にいつならん

 

oku tsuyu ya ware wa kusaki ni itsu naran

 

dewdrops forming--

when might I become

grass...or a tree?

 

Issa is referring to reincarnation. The way the dewdrops make trees and grass sparkle, he wouldn't mind being reborn as one of them.

 

 

In a presentation on Issa's dewdrop haiku last fall, David noted that:

 

--Awareness of the dewdrop nature of life is part of the DNA of haiku.
--Issa explored this theme of transience (Japanese: 無常 mujô).
--No haiku poet in history has ever devoted more attention to this theme. ...

 

1812

 

.露はらりはらり大事のうき世哉

 

tsuyu harari harari daiji no ukiyo kana

 

dewdrops fall

drip-drip, this floating world's

Great Thing

 

The "Great Thing" (daiji) in Pure Land Buddhism is Amida Buddha's vow to make enlightenment possible for all beings who trust in his "Other Power." Here, Issa is using the expression "floating world" (ukiyo) in its old Buddhist sense of the world being temporary and imperfect.

 

 

 

**All translations © 1991-2021 by David G. Lanoue, rights reserved.**

 

 

In correspondence with me about these haiku, David added:

 

 "The dewdrop haiku, I believe, represent Issa's most important image--at the core of his philosophy."  

 

MUCH appreciation to David for his generosity in allowing me to share his work here this month.  It's a dewdrop world, as Issa said - and we will soon enough move on like dew ourselves - but poetry offers such meaning and beauty along the way, doesn't it?

 

Thank you for joining me on this Poetry Month dewdropping journey.

 

To cap off April's Poetry Friday celebrations, Matt has the Roundup at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme.  Thanks, Matt!

[Note: We will be busy with a family wedding this weekend; thank you for your comments, which I always delight in reading, though I  might not be able to respond right away today/romorrow. In fact, we have several family celebrations in May, so I will likely take a mini-Poetry-Friday-break or two this month to catch up on custom artsyletters orders and ready my shop for re-opening in person in June. But let the poetry continue, long past Poetry Month! I'll be in and out and back soon. :0) ]

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Poetry Friday - Some Humorous Issa Dewdrops...

©David G. Lanoue. Rights reserved.

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

Thank you for continuing on this Poetry Month dewdrop journey with Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), courtesy of the work of author, poet, and professor David G. Lanoue. (Not sure what I'm talking about?  Here are links to my intro post for April 2  and last week's post for April 9 .)

 

We'll be delving into Issa's dewdrop symbolism more deeply next week, and in the final post for this year's "bonus" Friday in April the week after that. But now that you've gotten a taste of these glorious dewdrops – shining gems of transience that they are – I thought you might enjoy a little break for humor here in the middle.

 

As you might recall, Issa's life was full of tragedy and hardship and loss.  His respectful sensitivity to small, vulnerable creatures, disenfranchised people, and even to drifting plants and tiny dewdrops has made his work endearing to generation after generation of readers. BUT, Issa embraced and expressed not just the melancholy or poignant moments of life; his poetry offers up plenty of gladness and humor - often ironic - as well.

 

The poem pictured above could have been penned this year, right?  Especially in light of the pandemic. 

 

young folk

just don't get it...

evening dew

 

Of this haiku, David writes:

 

Young people don't understand the Buddhist lesson of impermanence that the dewdrops teach.  In Issa's time as in our time, they assume that they'll live forever.  Maybe that's a good thing?

 

 

Here are a few more of David's dewdrop haiku translations that I hope bring a smile:

 

 

1810

.ひきの顔露のけしきになりもせよ

hiki no kao tsuyu no keshiki ni nari mo seyo

 

 

face of a toad--

adopt the mood

of dewdrops!

 

 

In Issa's poetic vision the faces of toads always appear grumpy. Here, he encourages the scowling toad to adopt the (calm? peaceful?) attitude of the dewdrops.

 

 

And another address to a wee creature:

 

 

1816

.白露の玉ふみかくなきりぎりす

shira tsuyu no tama fumika[ku] na kirigirisu

 

don't crush

the dewdrop pearls!

katydid

 

 

A katydid (kirigirisu) is a green or light brown insect, a cousin of crickets and grasshoppers. The males possess special organs on the wings with which they produce shrill calls. Although katydid is the closest English equivalent, many translators (such as R. H. Blyth) use the more familiar "grasshopper" and "cricket." See Haiku (Tokyo: Hokuseido, 1949-1952; rpt. 1981-1982/reset paperback edition) 4.1068-69.

 

And, speaking of insects:

 

 

1821

.朝露や虫に貰ふて面あらふ

asa tsuyu ya mushi [ni] moraute tsura arau

 

morning dew--

washing my face

adding a bug

 

 

Issa uses the dew (from grass, presumably) to wash his face. He ends up with a visitor. Issa is the most humorous of the great masters of haiku, but his humor often seems to evoke a deeper level of meaning--as (I believe) it does here.

 

 

And last but not least today:

 

 

1821

.ばか蔓に露もかまふなかまふなよ

baka tsuru ni tsuyu mo kamau-na kamau-na yo

 

 

hey dewdrops--

don't tease

the foolish vine!

 

 

Issa imagines that the "foolish" vine is thinking that the droplets on its leaves signify rain (hence badly-needed moisture for its roots), but instead they are only tantalizing dewdrops that will soon evaporate.

 

All haiku translations and comments ©David G. Lanoue.  Rights reserved.

 

Many thanks to David for permission to share!

 

AND:  Wishing everyone a **HAPPY International Haiku Poetry Day** tomorrow, Saturday, April 17! :0)

 

Be sure to visit the always-fabulous Jama's Alphabet Soup for this week's Roundup.  Are you following the Kidlit 2021 Progressive Poem?  If, like me, you've gotten behind – no worries!  You can jump in any time and get caught up.  Margaret has a list of all the links here.

 

Keep smiling!

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Poetry Friday - Issa's Dewdrops, Pearly Ones...

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Thanks for the enthusiasm about my National Poetry Month project for Poetry Fridays over here, a little time spent with recent Issa haiku translations by Dr. David G. Lanoue - specifically, Issa's dewdrop haiku.  (Just scroll back to last week's post if you didn't catch all that.)

 

First, a little diversion.  In the comments last week, Janet Clare Fagel mentioned a book she has loved and used over the years when sharing haiku with students, IN A SPRING GARDEN, edited by Richard Lewis and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats (The Dial Press, 1965).  How did I not have this book in my collection of old (& some new) haiku books for young readers?! I am so grateful she mentioned it.  I was able to find a very nice copy on Ebay.

 

The book presents haiku by old masters corresponding to the unfolding of a spring day, beginning to end.  Many poems, such as the Issa dewdrop haiku pictured above with my dewdrop of a doggie, Rita, were reprinted from R. H. Blyth's Haiku volumes (Hokuseido Press, Tokyo).  Of course, the art is fantastic.  Thanks again, Janet.

 

The poem above ends with "pearls of bright dew."  If you go to David G. Lanoue's Issa Haiku Archive page (remember, there are upwards of 10,000 poems he's translated, plus hundreds of new ones added during quarantine!) and type "pearls of dew" in the search box, you'll find several examples there, including this one, followed by David's commentary:

 

1814

.露の玉どう転げても愛出度ぞ


tsuyu no tama dô korogete mo medetai zo

 

pearls of dew--
whichever way you tumble
is happy

 

 

Based on Issa's many other haiku about dewdrops, their happiness is due to Amida Buddha's vow to save sentient beings from this temporary world of sorrow. They fall to nothingness, but Buddha will, in a sense, catch them. Of course, the dewdrops are sentient only in Issa's imagination; they more accurately represent Issa and his human readers, present company included.

 

Translations and commentary ©David G. Lanoue.  Rights reserved. 

 

One reason Issa is so beloved is that his body of work demonstrates his ability to see life sympathetically from many perspectives - other people, animals (especially the most humble or cast aside of humans and beasts), plants - and, even,  dewdrops!  As David writes in A Taste of Issa, Issa is known, among other things, for his "warm, loving connection with living things, especially animals but also including humans and plants.  As a Buddhist artist brimming with compassion and respect for his fellow beings, however small, Issa likes to address his nonhuman colleagues directly...." (David adds that critics have called Issa 'a poet of "personification" or "anthropomorphism," ' but rather than projecting human attributes onto a nonhuman subject, Issa recognizes even a small creature such as a snail as a "fellow traveler on the road of existence.")

 

In November, for a Zoom gathering for a Hot Springs, Arkansas, haiku conference, David delivered a presentation called "Dewdrop Worlds - Recent Discoveries from Issa."  (I was able to listen in on my phone from my studio that day, but, alas, couldn't see the visuals.  David kindly shared them with me and I'll share a couple of those this month, too.)

 

"Dew is a traditional Buddhist image for how brief and fleeting life is," David explains.  Issa was a Buddhist of the JōdoShinshū faith, a school of Pure Land Buddhism.  We'll explore this theme of transience a little more as the month goes on.

 

For now, here are a couple more of David's pearly dewdrop translations:  

  

 

   ****

 

 

1821

.福の神見たまへ露が玉になる


fuku no kami mita ma[e] tsuyu ga tama ni naru

 

good luck god--
dewdrops are transformed
into pearls

 

 

Issa plays with the different meanings of tama: ball, sphere, jewel, and gem. He imagines that the god of luck is bestowing him with riches.

 

 

****

 

 

and this one from 1811:

 

.世の中は少しよすぎて玉の露


yo [no] naka wa sukoshi yo su[gi]te tama no tsuyu

 

 

passing briefly
through this world...
dewdrop pearls

 

Translations and commentary ©David G. Lanoue. Rights reserved.

 

 

 

Thanks as always for joining in, and be sure to check out all the sparkling offerings over at The Opposite of Indifference, where the incandescent Tabatha is rounding up Poetry Friday.  Thanks, Tabatha, and continued thanks to David for the generous sharing of these Issa haiku!

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Happy Poetry Month! April Poetry Friday Series with Issa's "Dewdrop Haiku," translated by David G. Lanoue

A couple of the MANY books by David G. Lanoue.

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers -  It's OUR month!  Happy April. 

 

For all the April Happenings in the Poetry Friday universe this year, see Susan's Poetry Month roundup here.

 

It's been a year since we all locked down, and some of us have been more productive than others.  Friends of this blog know the name David G. Lanoue – author, poet, Issa scholar, a past president of the Haiku Society of America, and RosaMary Professor of English at Xavier University of New Orleans (he has taught there since 1981).

 

A natural teacher, David maintains a haiku website where, among other things, he shares his more than 10,000 translations of haiku by Issa (family name, Kobayashi), who lived from 1763 to 1828. You can find those translations, searchable by sunject, here

 

He also shares an Issa haiku each day on Twitter - @issa_haiku - in English and in Japanese.  (Until Yahoo Groups ended in December, these were also available via email.)

 

About that productivity… With extra time while quarantined last year, David decided to dive into MORE translating - as in, hundreds more poems.  Issa wrote 20,000-some-odd haiku, after all.  I enjoyed reading the never-before-seen translations.  In the fall, he shared many new "dewdrop" haiku, and that's when I knew I wanted to pass along some of these glimmering gems here, if David was game.  He generously was.

 

So as introduction, we'll start with a well-known haiku by Issa, translated by many scholars over the years.  Here's David's translation.

 

 

this world

is a dewdrop world

yes… but…

 

 

You might recall that this poem was inspired by the death of Issa's beloved young daughter, Sato. It acknowledges the transience of life, but then that last poignant line lingers – loss hurts. 

 

When I read one of David's "fresh" new haiku translations this fall, I recalled that famous haiku and choked up:

 

gathering dewdrops--
each one the life
of a daughter

 

露盛て並べる娘がいちど哉
tsuyu morite naraberu [musume] ga ichigo kana

 

David added this accompanying discussion:

 

In Issa's journal, Hachiban nikki, he initally wrote the kanji for "daughter" (musume), though later in the same journal he revised it to read yome ("wife" or "bride"; Issa zenshû4.211, 4.318). The corrected version achieves the ideal 5-7-5 pattern of sound units, but the fact that Issa wrote "daughter" suggests that he was thinking of his dead child Sato, who passed away two years earlier and who Issa had already associated with dewdrops in a famous "dewdrop world" verse. I've decided to go with the original version. Sato is not alone. Every drop of dew--perfect for just a moment--is someone's beloved daughter, living a short life, then gone. 

 

Poem translations and commentary ©David G. Lanoue.  Rights reserved.

 

 

Now, before you think we are going to be wallowing in tragedy all month, as you might be familiar with the series of losses and challenges Issa faced throughout his life, let me offer reassurance. Issa's dewdrop haiku, like the rest of his body of work, explore the wide gamut of human emotions and sensitivities – from silly to sublime.  David's work gloriously celebrates all of it.

 

We'll learn more about David's books, Issa, and the dewdrop haiku in these next few weeks.  In the meantime, be sure to check out haikuguy.com.  If you are drawn to the down-to-earth, sometimes humorous, compassionate haiku of Issa, let me recommend A Taste of Issa, published in 2019.  This volume is an expanded version of David's 2012 Issa's Best:  A Translator's Selection of Master Haiku.

 

As David says, " Bashō is the most revered of the haiku poets of Old Japan, but Issa is the most loved."

 

Thanks for joining us! Our wonderful Poetry Friday fearless leader, Mary Lee, is kicking off the month with this week's roundup at A Year of Reading.  Enjoy!

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POETRY MONTH - Mini Poem Movies Project Winds Up with a Haiku, "sea fog"

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Can you believe it?  We've journeyed to the end of National Poetry Month!  Thanks for joining me for my Poetry Month project(s), "I Pause for Poems" and "I Pause for Haiku," in which I've posted mini poem movies each weekday in April. They haven't been perfect, but they've been fun to make.  I've been sharing some of my published poems for kids on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and haiku suitable for kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  

 

Today's haiku is "sea fog" from on down the road - Haiku Society of America 2017 Members' Anthology.   Click here to hear!

 

And if you'd like to catch up on the other haiku or poems, check out my YouTube Channel here  and scroll through all the mini movies. Thanks for joining me!  (And, pssst... tomorrow, for Poetry Friday, I'll have the Blooper Reel!)

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POETRY MONTH - Mini Poem Movie "I turn" from The Best of Today's Little Ditty, 2014-15; Don't Say I Didn't Warn You...

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Don't say I didn't warn you about today's poem... 

 

It's from THE BEST OF TODAY'S LITTLE DITTY 2014-15, compiled by the fabulous Michelle Heidenrich Barnes.  Be sure to play the video all the way through, as it's... well - you'll have to see for yourself. But be careful. (I might have been slightly under the influence of the "Getty Challenges" - but no actual art was harmed during the making of this video!)

 

Click here for the poem, and while you're there, check out the other mini movies I've been posting every weekday for Poetry Month.  (After today's, you might be glad we've just about run out of month.) ;0)

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POETRY MONTH - Haiku Mini Movie, "hatchlings"

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Thanks for journeying on with me in my "Mini Poem Movies" project this month.  Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I've been posting videos featuring some of my published poems for kids; on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it's a haiku suitable for kids.  I hope you enjoy today's!  It's from FROGPOND, Vol. 4.3, Fall 2019.  Click here to hear it.  And click here for my YouTube Channel.  

 

Wishing you a day full of poetry. :0) 

 

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POETRY MONTH - Last Week of Mini Movies Starts with "Food for Thought" from THE POETRY OF SCIENCE

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Here we are, beginning the last week of National Poetry Month.  I'll post my mini-movies through Thursday, and then on Friday - look for a blooper reel from this month's videographical adventures. ;0)

 

Today's poem is another one from THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY® FOR SCIENCE (Pomelo Books, 2014) and THE POETRY OF SCIENCE (the "for kids" edition, 2015), compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, with illustrations by Frank Ramspott and Bug Wang.

 

It's called "Food for Thought," and it's about food labels!  I hope your pantry is still full after weeks of sheltering at home.  (If it is, and you still have your income, remember your local food banks in these challenging times.)  Click here for the mini video, and click here for my YouTube Channel

 

Thanks for visiting - Happy Monday!

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POETRY MONTH/Poetry Friday - Short Poetic Diversions Soothing or Silly

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers! I hope in the midst of these jarring days you are finding comfort through poetry.  I've got two short diversions today, depending on whether you need something calm and soothing, or something downright silly.

 

My National Poetry Month mini-movies project continues with "I Pause for Poems" and "I Pause for Haiku" offerings.  Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in April, I'm posting a video featuring one of my published children's poems, and each Tuesday and Thursday, its a haiku suitable for kids. (18 down... four to go!)

 

First, yesterday's haiku video. It features the poem and picture above.  The haiku is from THIS WORLD, Haiku Society of America 2013 Members' Anthology:

 

 

lingering afternoon

the ebb and flow

of birdsong

 

 

©Robyn Hood Black

 

Now, I had been out in the neighborhood this week, recording bird chatter and also taking pictures of leafy oaks and twisty vines, which I was planning to use as the background for the poem text. Then Morgan sent the amazing photo above in a family text on Wednesday.  (She teaches third grade in Georgia; her teaching from home since March was the biggest inspiration for me to record these short, teacher-friendly videos!)

 

Morgan and hubby Matt have been hosting a bluebird pair in their back yard.  So I borrowed the wonderful image, added my haiku, and shared it with Caraol Varsalona as well, for her beautiful #NatureNurtures2020 gallery this month. (Here's the link to the video again.)

 

If you need something a little wackier, might I serve you up some of today's little movie?  It features this poem from THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY - K-5 Edition (Pomelo Books, 2012) edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.  [Interrupts to wave madly at Janet and say CONGRATS to you and all the other fine folks on the NCTE Notables List announced this week!!]

 

Here's the poem:

 

SNACK RULES

 

Don't talk with your mouth full - 

full of peanut butter.

Anything you try to say

wll cmmm out as a mmmttrr.

 

©Robyn Hood Black

 

If you click here for this video, you'll see Rita in a cameo role.  She celebrated her eighth birthday this month, by the way. 

 

Be sure to follow along with the Progressive Poem - it happens to park at Wondering and Wondering today, where the generous and talented Christie is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup, too!

Thatsalotta hosting! 

 

(I've got to come up with Monday's line... wish me luck and circle back around after the weekend.) Thanks for coming by!

 

--Children under the age of 13 need demonstrated parental consent to leave a comment - Thanks!--

 

PS - The Authors Guild techno-wizards are trying to fix my comment section, which has been making it seem that comments don't go through.  They advised me to keep comments set to 'moderated' in the meantime, so I'll do that this week. 

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POETRY MONTH - Mini poem Movie: "lingering afternoon" Haiku

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  My National Poetry Month project continues with haiku today - a short poem long on lovely sounds from our feathered friends.  (On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I share a mini poem movie with one of my published haiku suitable for kids, and on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, it's one of my published poems for kids.)

 

Today's offering is feather-friendly. ;0)

 

Click here to hear today's haiku (& see the amazing photo my daughter, Morgan, took on Wednesday and let me borrow!), or click  here to peruse my YouTube Channel.  Thanks for coming along!

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