Sunday, September 15, 2013

Another step

Recently I got a most pleasant surprise. In an envelope with several different beautiful Japanese stamps came  a lovely slender book printed in creamy paper. It has a pale blue, textured cover titled in both English and Japanese: An Introduction to Haibun with a translation of Kurita Chodo's Tsukiyo soshi. I had company and was busy so I had to set it aside, I am ashamed to report that I never yet sent my thank-you note to Mrs' Minako Noma, the haiku writer. That's for tomorrow.

Opening the book, past the two beautiful flyleaf papers, I found color photos of the moon over Matsuyama Castle; The inspiration behind this book, Mrs. Noma, lives in Matsuyama and was so wonderful to us when we were there on our haiku trips. Translated, the book by Kurita Chodo (1749-1814) is called Sketches of Moonlit Nights. It is a group of haibun on the different manifestations of the moon. Haibun are short, evocative prose pieces with haiku. The most famous ones are Basho's travel journals. Kurita Chodo was also a Matsuyama poet. The book also includes a chronology of his life, and other interesting information about him, as well as brush painted illustrations and a history of how the translation came to be. This book was a real treat! As soon as I began to really look at it, I read it all. I hope that sometime, you, too, will get such a nice, unexpected surprise in the mail!

Because it is autumn, I have chosen this haibun (page 13) from the book to share with you: This poet reminds me of Sei Shonagon in the use of "delightul", and his general attitude.

The Waxing Moon

By the seventh and eighth days, the moon takes on a lovely shape.
As people come and go along a broad street, they may look familiar,
but it is difficult to know for sure. How delightful it is to exchange
glances for no reason at all. At this time, the moon hidden behind
pine needles is especially wonderful.

going out in autumn
it always seems to be
a moonlit night

Haibun is a wonderful form. The best ones have different, yet subtly related matters in the prose passage and in the poem. Try doing this, you will surprise yourself! Sleep well, under the moon's motion.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing one of Chodo's haibun. I'll be buying the book.
    Ray Rasmussen