bric-a-brac english


In LITERATURE on November 25, 2012 at 12:30 am

Originally, the haiku was a short section of a longer poem composed by several poets who wrote segments [=parts] in response to one another in a long, cumulative [=adding one after another] poetic exercise or game. Traditionally, the Japanese haiku was an unrhymed* poem consisting of seventeen sounds–or, rather, characters representing seventeen sounds–and distributed over three lines in a five, seven, five pattern–that is, five distinctive sounds in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third.

*unrhymed = they didn’t rhyme; words that rhyme have the same last sound (‘balloon’ and ‘saloon’).

CHIYOJO (1703–1775)

Whether astringent
I do not know. This is my first
Persimmon picking.

astringent = sour, sharp or bitter in taste
persimmon → see In Season

HASHIN (1864–?)

No sky and no earth
At all. Only the snowflakes
Fall incessantly.

incessantly = without interruption; constantly.

(Translations by Daniel C. Buchanan)

BASHO (1644–1694)

Another year gone—
hat in my hand,
sandals on my feet.

BUSON (1716–1783)

Listening to the moon,
gazing at the croaking of frogs
in a field of ripe rice.

gaze = to look for a long time at someone or something, with all your attention.

ISSA (1763–1827)

The moon and the flowers,
forty-nine years,
walking around, wasting time.

The snail gets up
and goes to bed
with very little fuss.

fuss = when you get excited about something, especially something unimportant.

Insects on a bough,
floating downriver,
still singing.

bough [baʊ] = a large branch of a tree

(Translations by Robert Hass)


The next one is a haiku by BASHO in three different English translations:

Old pond–frogs jumped in–sound of water.
(Lafcadio Hearn, 1898)

pond = small area of water, smaller than a lake (e.g. in a park)

There is the old pond!
Lo, into it jumps a frog:
hark, water’s music!
(John Thomas Bryan, 1929)

lo = (old use) look!
= (old use) listen!

The old pond.
A frog jumps in—
(R. H. Blyth, 1949)


And, finally, this one is mine (but you’re welcome to have the last word):

She’s wearing black
She’s selling brownies
Sunday she’ll get on a plane


[Source: Jerome Beaty & J. Paul Hunter, The Norton Introduction to Literature.]


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