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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Go See Michelle!

Happy Poetry Friday!  My merry month of May has indeed been crazy-wild-busy, from start to finish.  Grateful for several family gatherings and events this month.  I'm away from the computer today, but please enjoy the Roundup over at fellow Etsian Michelle Kogan's place, and wish her a Happy Birthday this weekend!  

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Poetry Friday: 1800s Teacher Humor for Mary Lee!

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers - Happy to pop back in during a crazy-busy month to celebrate our wonderful, talented, generous, tenacious Mary Lee Hahn!

 

Congratulations on your retirement from teaching, Mary Lee.  Can't wait to learn of your next adventures.

 

When you become a bit wistful about the classroom, perhaps the following poem will be good medicine.  I found it in one of my old favorites in my studio, CROWN JEWELS – OR GEMS OF LITERATURE, ART AND MUSIC … (and the rest of the title is about three miles long.)  This particular volume hails from 1887, compiled by Henry Davenport Northrop, D.D., and published by L. P. Miller & Co. (Chicago and Philadelphia).

 

No author is credited with this poem; if anyone knows who wrote it, let me know and I'll give credit where credit's due, a century and a quarter-plus later!

 

 

          TEACHING PUBLIC SCHOOL

 

Forty little urchins,

          Coming through the door,

Pushing, crowding, making

          A tremendous roar.

          Why don't you keep quiet?

       Can't you keep the rule? –

Bless me, this is pleasant,

          Teaching public school!

 

Forty little pilgrims

          On the road to fame;

If they fail to reach it,

          Who will be to blame?

High and lowly stations –

          Birds of every feather –

On a common level

          Here are brought together.

 

Dirty little faces,

          Loving little hearts,

Eyes brimful of mischief,

          Skilled in all its arts.

That's a precious darling!

          What are you about?

"May I pass the water?"

          "Please, may I go out?"

 

Boots and shoes are shuffling,

          Slates and books are rattling,

and in a corner yonder

          Two pugilists are battling:

Others cutting didos –

          What a botheration!

No wonder we grow crusty

          From such association!

 

Anxious parent drops in,

          Merely to inquire

Why his olive branches

          Do not shoot up higher;

Says he wants his children

          To mind their p's and q's,

And hopes their brilliant talents

          Will not be abused.

 

Spelling, reading, writing,

          Putting up the young ones;

Fuming, scolding, fighting,

          Spurring on the dumb ones;

Gymnasts, vocal music –

          How the heart rejoices

When the singer comes to

          Cultivate the voices!

 

Institute attending,

          Making our reports,

Giving object lessons,

          Class drill of all sorts;

Reading dissertations,

          Feeling like a fool –

Oh, the untold blessing

          Of the public school!

 

 

Dedicating this find of a poem to Mary Lee and to all the teachers out there, especially after THIS surreal and challenging year!  Kind of heartening to know teaching ancestors were going through some of the same things, isn't it? 

 

And a tip of the hat to my third-grade-teacher-daughter Morgan, as today is the last day of class for her students this year.  Whew!

 

One more tidbit for Mary Lee, again without attribution, but tucked into JEWELS FOR THE HOUSEHOLD; SELECTIONS OF THOUGHT AND ANECDOTE, FOR FAMILY READING by Tryon Edwards, D. D. (Hartford:  Case, Lockwood & Co., 1866).

 

          CHEERFULNESS AND WISDOM

 

So I saw that despondency was death, and flung my burden from me,

and, lightened by that effort, I was raised above the world:

Yea, in the strangeness of my vision, I seemed to soar on wings,

And the names they gave my wings were cheerfulness and wisdom.

 

Soar on, Mary Lee! #MarvelousMaryLee #PoemsforMaryLee

 

This week's Roundup is hosted by the lovely Christie at Wondering and Wandering, where you can find out more about the Mary Lee poetry celebration, and other Poetry Friday posts, too.

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Poetry Friday - Head over to Bridget's Wee Spot...

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  I'm dipping in and out of PF this month with travel and some extra family events and such. Today, steer your compass toward the Alps and visit the amazing and wonderful Bridget at Wee Words for Wee Ones

Happy Weekending!

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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 - Issa's Dewdrops, Continued... and, Cicadas!

"dewdrop" by noahg. is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  We are continuing the "Issa's Dewdrops" journey over here, every Friday in National Poetry Month.  Many thanks to Dr. David G. Lanoue, professor, author, poet, and Issa scholar, among other things, for sharing some recent translations of the poetry of Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), along with his own commentary.  David has translated more than 10,000 of Issa's poems in the last 30 years, and several hundred new ones while in quarantine over the last year.  Here is David's website, and if you'd like to catch up with the series here, feel free to peruse week one's post here, week two, here, and last week's, here.

 

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

 

We'll look more at a bit of the spiritual component of Issa's dewdrop haiku next week.  This week, just enjoy some more of the transient beauty, and David's comments!

 

 

1808

 

.夏山や目にもろもろの草の露

 

natsu yama ya me ni moro-moro no kusa no tsuyu

 

summer mountain--

dewdrops in the grass

all shapes and sizes

 

 

A haiku of keen perception with just a hint of a social and religious message.

 

 

 

1808

 

.おく露やおのおの翌の御用心

oku tsuyu ya ono-ono asu no o-yôjin

 

dewdrops forming--

each by each no worry

till tomorrow

 

 

Issa is being playfully ironic. Since dewdrops don't last past noon, they never see tomorrow.

 

 

 

And, because many of us are nature lovers, and lots of Poetry Friday regulars live in the following states:  

Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia...

I thought we should look to Issa to pay homage to an amazing event that is set to "emerge" in these next couple-few weeks:  the Brood X, 17-year cicadas! 

 

Here's a CNN article about them. Billions (with a 'b') will be making themselves known very soon; I'm sure their calls and images will be filling up backyards and news outlets. Watch your step! Seventeen years ago, I had a child in middle school, another in elementary school, a couple of part-time middle school English classes to teach, and a farm-full of animals in North Georgia. What were you up to then?

 

Maybe these unusual large, loud insects will inspire you to write some haiku about them (traditionally, a popular subject). You can do a search for Issa's cicada haiku at David's archive here.  You'll find several dozen, such as these:

 

 

 1804

 

.大雨や大ナ月や松の蝉

ôame ya ôkina tsuki ya matsu no semi

 

big rain

big moon

cicada in the pine

 

A wonderful minimalistic scene.

 

 

 

1822

 

.そよ風は蝉の声より起る哉

soyo kaze wa semi no koe yori okoru kana

 

the soft breeze

from the cicada's voice

wafts

 

Literally, the voice of the cicada is the soft wind's origin, as if its rasping song has stirred the air to gentle movement--one of Issa's more fanciful images.

 

 

If you'd like some tips on how to "write like Issa," well, David has a book for that!  I'm thrilled to have a poem in it.  You can learn more about Write Like Issa just below the search box on David's Issa page, here

 

One last cicada haiku for now, because it's also a dewdrop haiku: 

 

 

1811

 

.露の世の露を鳴也夏の蝉

tsuyu no yo no tsuyu wo naku nari natsu no semi

 

in a dewdrop world

singing of dewdrops...

summer cicada

 

Sakuo Nakamura notes the religious (Buddhist) feeling in this haiku. 'Dewdrop world' suggests fragile life: how all living beings die so quickly. The phrase, "singing at dewdrops," means "singing for a very short time." He adds, "The dewdrop will soon disappear when the sun rises, and yet the summer cicada is alive and singing with pleasure, like a human being. He is not aware of his short life."

 

Shinji Ogawa notes that tsuyu wo naku means "singing of dewdrops." He adds, "Of course, what the cicadas are singing about depends upon who is hearing it. At least to Issa, the cicadas are singing of the dewdrops, of the fragile life."

 

 

All poem translations and commentary ©David G. Lanoue.  Rights reserved. (Many thanks to David for his generosity.)

 

Here's to a continued, wonderful Poetry Month....  I was delighted to share a video on Thursday as part of Michelle Schaub's Poetry Month project at PoetryBoost.com, a different poet featured each day.  (My offerings were a few spring-related haiku, shared from my back yard.) My daughter Morgan and her third graders in Georgia have been tuning in all month!

 

And, I had fun contributing a line to the Kidlit Progressive Poem, which lands at Janice's Salt City Verse  today. 

 

Catch more Poetry Month magic at today's Poetry Friday Roundup, graciously hosted by Catherine at Reading to the Core.  (She has a gorgeous dewdrop photo at the top of her blog, by the way....)

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The Kidlit Progressive Poem Parks HERE Today!

 

Happy Earth Day!  Each year for National Poetry Month, a "Progressive Poem" wends its way through the Kidlitosphere, blog by blog, adding a line until a completed poem emerges on April 30.  This adventure was started years ago by the fabulous Irene Latham, and Margaret Simon took up the coordination reins last year.

 

Also last year, the ever-clever Donna Smith started the poem off with a CHOICE of two lines, and that new dimension held with each new person all month.  It's carried over into this year, too!

 

I'm taking the baton from Carol Varsalona, who offered up these two fun lines to choose from (they will make sense when you read the whole poem below):

 

Inspired by nature, our imaginations soar.

 


-OR-

 


We flitter with our wings of vine diving to touch ground.

 

 

Here's the poem with the line I chose from Carol, and two to choose from for Leigh Anne Eck.

 

 

I'm a case of kindness – come and catch me if you can!

Easily contagious - sharing smiles is my plan.

I'll spread my joy both far and wide

As a force of nature, I'll be undenied. 

 


Words like, "how can I help? will bloom in the street.

A new girl along on the playground - let's meet, let's meet!

We can jump-skip together in a double-dutch round. 

Over, under,  jump and wonder, touch the ground.

 


Friends can be found when you open a door.

Side by side, let's walk through, there's a world to explore.

We'll hike through a forest of towering trees.

Find a stream we can follow while we bask in the breeze.

 


Pull off our shoes and socks, dip our toes in the icy spring water.

When you're with friends, there's not have to or oughter.

What could we make with leaves and litter?

Let's find pine needles, turn into vine knitters.

 


We'll lie on our back and find shapes in the sky.

We giggle together: See the bird! Now we fly?

Inspired by nature, our imaginations soar.

 

and here are my two offerings:

 

***

 

You lumber and trumpet, I'll race and I'll roar!

 

-OR-

 

Follow that humpback!  Here, take an oar.

 

***

 

Take it away, Leigh Anne! :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 Friday - A Haiku by Chiyo-Ni (& one by me)

Detail from a circa 1840 woodcut of "Chiyo of Kaga Province" by Utagawa Kuniyoshi.

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Here we are at April's doorstep.  For Poetry Fridays in April, I'll be sharing some of David G. Lanoue's recently translated "dewdrop haiku" by Issa - that was David's quarantine project! Learn more about David at haikuguy.com .

 

For today, after another week with a tragic mass shooting, on the heels of Georgia's with its racial undertones, I thought I'd simply share a poem by a famous early female haiku poet.  Today, March 26, is a day across the country to focus on #StopAsianHate.

 

Fukada Chiyo-Ni lived from 1703-1775 and was influenced by Basho and his followers.  She was a poet, artist, calligrapher, and nun during her lifetime. 

 

Patricia Donegan and Yoshie Ishibashi wrote a book about her, Chiyo-ni: Woman Haiku Master (Tuttle, 1998), but it is sadly out of print. An article on The Haiku Foundation website features Donegan's discussion of women haiku poets who have influenced her, including Chiyo-Ni, which you can read here .  A few excerpts from the book and more can be found here

 

 

The poem of Chiyo-Ni's that always gets me is this one, which is said to have been written after the death of her young son, her only child.

 

 

The little dragon-fly hunter, –
How far I wonder,
Has he gone today.

 

 

There are many translations of this haiku, but this is the version offered by R. H. Blyth in Volume I of his A History of Haiku (The Hokuseido Press, 1963).

 

Here's a link to the website of the Chiyo-Jo Haiku Museum in Japan, with more information and her haiku. 

 

Finally, here's a recently published haiku of mine about grief, too, though it was written about someone's passing at the end of life, rather than the beginning.

 

 

late fall

grief notes

in the old song

 

 

©Robyn Hood Black.  All rights reserved. 

 Modern Haiku, Vol. 52.1, Winter-Spring 2021

 

Join the rest of the Poetry Friday Roundup at Soul Blossom Living, where Susan is rounding up Poetry Month plans as well. Wishing you peace and good health as we continue to the march into Spring. 

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