03 The Daily Read, Part II:

The Haiku of Issa…

… today’s haikus are a little enigmatic…

… one about a moth finding brightness in the chamber of a woman, and being burnt to a crisp… the woman’s chamber is significant and brings the poet directly into the action… there is no need to describe the setting as a woman’s chamber unless there is an intended double meaning, that the poet is drawn to the flame of the woman and metaphorically burnt to a crisp for his labors… it does not sound as though his visit was entirely satisfactory… i look up moths as cultural symbols and find nothing substantial…

… another about scarecrows all being crooked… i look up the cultural significance of scarecrows in Japan and there is some… it is a folk deity, known as Kuebiko, representing folk wisdom, knowledge and agriculture1… Issa notes that he doesn’t know about the people in the town but the scarecrows are crooked… is this meant in a corruption kind of way?… or just a state of general disorderliness represented by lack of attention to their scarecrows, which are deities after all… or that one can expect problems with wisdom, knowledge and agriculture from the town he is entering… he identifies the town as his home town, so maybe it is about memories and formative experience… is he talking about himself more than the town?…

… another about plum trees blooming in January in other provinces… this is odd, plum trees do bloom from January into February and are considered harbingers of spring… so Issa is saying they bloom in other provinces but not where he is… since he does not identify the province he is in, i assume it is metaphorical, something about old age perhaps?… reaching the place of having little life left to offer?… an article in Wikipedia2 confirms the plum blossom as a symbol of spring and is believed to be a protective charm against evil… so the lack of blossoms is likely about old age and or lack of protection against evil… both?…

02 Meditations:

Issa haiku…

… the one that catches my attention this morning is about being under a cherry tree and finding it strange to be alive… cherry blossoms are valued in Japan for there ephemeral nature, flowering briefly and gloriously, gone too soon1… like life itself…

… Issa knows the lessons the cherry tree teaches, that life is brief and one needs to be alive to it… to find existence strange at any moment in time and space is being alive to it…

… this will be a bit of a non sequitur, but in the film Black Widow, the theme of family is the unifying good… family of Avengers, family, even make believe family, of Russian spies… family transcends everything…

… i find in literature and life, again and again, that what is truly important are the simple things… home, family, being alive to nature and life… all these things can be had and enjoyed for free (or little cost) as long as basic necessities are met… we are constantly being distracted from these core simple things, especially by the consumer culture we live in, where things upon things are the symbol of a good life… even as aware of this as i am, i struggle to execute, have never gotten close to centering my life around the simple pleasures…

… family is a particular challenge for me… my birth family is difficult and scattered to three of the four corners of the continent, my in law family is a good one, but not the family i grew up with… i have never had children, just wife, dogs and cats, which do teach me many things, including the brevity of life…

… as i write this, an epiphany of sorts… living well along the lines of simple pleasures is anti-market, anti-capitalist… it’s generally anti most forms of economic organization… it is rigorously repressed as a way to conduct one’s life…

02 Meditations

Buson haiku…

… several poems land in this morning’s set…

… one about old man ears and the sound of rain falling down the rain pipe… my old man ears are listening to the rain hitting the pavement outside…

… another one talks about hearing the moon and seeing the frogs croak… what an odd displacement…

… several flowers are mentioned…

… white chrysanthemum…

Chrysanthemums have noble connotations, appearing on the Japanese Imperial Family’s crest for generations. But white chrysanthemums indicate purity, grief, and truth, and are used for funerals.1

… the peony…

The Japanese peony, considered the “King of Flowers,” has a symbolic meaning that includes wealth, good fortune, honor, daring and masculine bravery. The peony originated in China; around the eighth century, the Chinese introduced the peony to Japan.2

… the iris…

from dark purplish variants to their more pale, pastel violet hues, these are used to represent loyalty, having a noble heart, and good news.3

… i have plunged down a rabbit hole on haiku, reading more and more about what makes haiku, haiku… a lengthy article on the rules developed in North America for haiku content and structure and how those rules are contrary to the classic haiku traditions exemplified by Basho and Buson…