Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

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Jul 5, 2015

HAIKU MASTERS SERIES : Sōin & Saikaku - The Comical Renga Masters

Haiku Master Series III
A series on discussing Haiku Masters and their poetry…. This discusses the very popular and prolific Haiku Masters who aimed to move away from the serious 'Bookishness' popular in Japanese poetry in the 17th century. Sōin founded the Danrin school of Haikai poetry, where as Saikaku created the 'Floating World' genre...

Nishiyama Sōin (March 28, 1605 – May 5, 1682)

Sake hitotsu / nodo tōru ma ni / tsuki idete
While a shot of saké passes the throat, the moon appears

This haiku is a fine example of the lightness intended in the comical renga style, which Sōin popularized to move away from the serious bookishness popular in Japanese poetry at the time. Here Tsuki idete can also be interpreted as a pun for an erection.

Hototogisu / ikani kijin mo / tashika ni kike
‘tis the suckoo –
Image curtsy Paghat
Listen well!
How much soever gods ye be!

Hototogisu, translated as cuckoo, wood thrush and sometimes even nightingale, is virtually synonymous with haiku. It is said to die after singing 8008 times. Hototogisu is also known as the ‘bird of time,’ ‘messenger of death’ and ‘bird of disappointed love’, and flies back and forth from this world to the next.

Brief Bio…
Nishiyama Sōin founded the Danrin school of haikai poetry, which aimed to move away from the serious 'bookishness' popular in Japanese poetry at the time and become more in touch with the common people, infusing a spirit of greater freedom into their poetry. Sōin's haikai (comical renga) became the transition between the light and clever haikai of Matsunaga Teitoku and the more serious and aesthetic renku of Matsuo Bashō.

- Image & Text curtsy Wikipedia, click here to learn more...

Ihara Saikaku (1642 – September 9, 1693)

kokoro koko ni / naki ka nakanu ka / Hototogisu

Is my mind elsewhere
Or has it simply not sung?

This is the earliest known verse of Saikaku, referring to the Confucius thought that if mind is elsewhere, one will look but not see, listen but not hear as well as to the rarity of the hototogisu. The beauty of this Haiku is that it almost imitates the birds call.

Yoshiwara de / budō shōri o / ezaru koto

In the Yoshiwara
The way of the warrior
Cannot conquer

In the pleasure district of Edo (Tokyo), commoners such as Saikaku and samurai were equal in buying or vying for the favors of women.

Ukiyo no tsuki / misugoshini keri / sue ninen
I had two last years
of extra gazing at
The moon of the Floating World.

Saikaku’s last poem written at the age of 52, extolling the pleasure of two extra years of living, as at the time the life expectancy was 50 years for men.

Brief Bio…
Ihara Saikaku (1642 – September 9, 1693) was a Japanese poet and creator of the "floating world" genre of Japanese prose (ukiyo-zōshi).

He first studied haikai poetry under Matsunaga Teitoku and later studied under Nishiyama Sōin of the Danrin School of poetry, which emphasized comic linked verse. Over the course of a single day and night in 1677, Saikaku is reported to have composed at least 16,000 haikai stanzas, with some sources placing the number at over 23,500 stanzas.

When he died in 1693, at the age of fifty-one, Saikaku was one of the most popular writers of the entire Tokugawa period. At the time his work was never considered "high" literature because it had been aimed towards and popularised by the chonin. Nevertheless, Saikaku’s work is now celebrated for its significance for developing Japanese fiction.

Bio and Image Curtsy Wikipedia, click here to learn more...

Hope you have enjoyed the 3rd post in the Haiku Master Series... Next HMS will be published in the 3rd week of July. Till then live in interesting times...

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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HAIKU MASTER SERIES II                                               SERIES IV

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