Eikoh Hosoe

Photograph by Eikoh Hose

Guts and Ghosts: The Radical Legacy of Japanese Photographer Eikoh Hose

… there are so many Japanese photographers I love… Eikoh Hosoe is another one… this book from MACK is on my list if i get a windfall…

Issa and the Meaning of Animals: A Buddhist Poet’s Perspective. David G. Lanoue

… what matters, that we all die, or that we sing along the way?…

The last example is perhaps the most dramatic and poignant. Issa introduces it with the head note, “Flood” (kôzui 洪水). The insect may be floating to his death, yet he keeps singing. Perhaps Issa sees himself in the insect; perhaps he sees in it the fate of all living creatures, for all are equally, eventually doomed. The important thing isn’t the inevitable death to which the currents of the universe sweep us; what matters, Issa implies, is to embrace the present moment … and sing.1

… what one of us isn’t concerned with the inevitable subsidence of our “conscious” being?… we are crafted to survive at all costs… it’s inbuilt that we worry about the integrity of the configuration of atoms and processes that constitute our bodies and consciousness, whatever that may mean… the Buddhist way is to work hard, through meditation and mindfulness of the present moment thinking, to let go of the obsession with dying which is, in any case, inevitable… so, the advice is to sing regardless of the situation you find yourself in…

… another way of looking at the poem referenced is that we are what we are, even in the face of disaster and imminent demise…

still singing the insect

is swept away …

floating branch

… and now i learn that animals of all kinds can be observed to dance… interact while moving in that exhibit structure and repetition… early humans learned to mimic these animal dances and would do so in ceremonial ways to encourage abundance and successful hunting, to become one with the animal being hunted… close identification with animals of all kinds allows behavior prediction… it also focuses mind and body on a successful encounter, whether the objective be to kill, capture or avoid…2

… the interesting question arises, does one need to know they are dancing to be dancing?… “I think, therefor I am.”3… i dance, therefor i dance?… to be the best kind of dancer i am sure a dance training master would suggest that one need’s to forget they are dancing and simply be the dance… i am groping towards something here… conscious, so called “rational thought,” is a hinderance to being in direct communication with one’s environment… it is impossible to hold anything sacred that is only “thought” about… one must be in seamless relationship with the world to hold the idea, the instinct, that it is sacred, worthy of respect and honor, of careful and respectful interaction… by writing poems about nature and animals and the world in general, one is setting themselves on intimate terms with all of that, dissolving the boundaries between self and cosmos…


  1. Lanoue, David G.. Issa and the Meaning of Animals: A Buddhist Poet’s Perspective (p. 145). HaikuGuy.com. Kindle Edition. [return]
  2. Ibid, with some embellishment and expansion by me. [return]
  3. Descartes [return]

Issa and the Meaning of Animals: A Buddhist Poet’s Perspective, David G. Lanoue

  •  The deeper truth of his not purely whimsical poem is that frogs, just as much as humans, are fully part of this universe and, in their way, might appreciate its wonders.1
  • … i read this and think… hmmm… making just a little too much of a claim to animal sentience… but then, but then… i wonder if animals, when their basic needs have been met, take moments just to enjoy the good feeling of having needs met coupled perhaps with an idyllic evening, or afternoon, or morning?… my immediate thought is that they have more to fear from their surroundings than i and most of the humans I know do… can they ever let their guard down?… can they ever experience a moment of vulnerability?, of bliss?… my dogs do, i am pretty sure… wrapped in the security of having their basic needs met and being with humans who love them dearly and protect them, they can afford to have their guards down and perhaps enjoy a pleasant moment in the cosmos…

  1. Lanoue, David G.. Issa and the Meaning of Animals: A Buddhist Poet’s Perspective (p. 137). HaikuGuy.com. Kindle Edition. [return]

Basho and His Interpreters, Selected Hokku with Commentary, Makoto Ueda

… a book i ordered a couple of weeks ago… i have decided to set The Analysis of Matter aside given that i will be traveling and won’t be able to concentrate as effectively as i would otherwise… i will read this book instead as i think it will be more digestible in short spurts… also, the spiritual dimensions of haiku may be helpful at this moment…

… the haiku as a stand alone poetic form grew out of renga, a form of linked verse composed by a group of poets gathered… the guest of honor initiates the sequence and each poet takes a turn composing subsequent phrases in the sequence… renga have been known to get as long as ten thousand verses but more usually were one hundred or less…

… i find myself a bit tired for concentration even on haiku…

The Essential Haiku, End Notes

… today, the book is finished… the last notes discuss the origins of the haiku form and the difficulties of translating them… i am surprised that Robert Hass is not fluent in Japanese but rather, learned what he needed to learn to translate the poems, initially for his own pleasure/study, later for publication… he says he set himself the task of translating one haiku a day, which involved looking up the characters of both the Japanese and Chinese languages and deciphering what they meant or implied…

… at the very end, there is a list of elements of Haiku that make them difficult to render in English:

  • syntax… The swiftness of the syntax is one of the fascinating things about these poems, and I don’t think itv can be rendered.1
  • Rhythm… exists in the structuring of the lines, where there are shifts and changes in direction, which have the effect of taking a 5-7-5 structure and rendering it as 5-4-3-5 or 5-3-4-5…
  • Chinese Characters… Japanese is written in a combination of phonetic signs for individual syllable sounds and ideograms based on Chinese characters, or kanji2
  • Pivot Words… words that suddenly change the meaning, or the expectation of meaning, of a sentence, as you read it, a kind of grammatical double exposure.3
  • Seasonal Worlds… known as Kigo… as Mark Morris observes, “translation cannot convey the feeling of at-homeness, of being inserted in the cycle of a natural and ritual calendar that kigo communicate to the haikai reader.”4

… the earlier traditions of haikai and hokku, which birthed the haiku form, are compared to the call and response improvisation of jazz bands of the 1920’s…


  1. Robert Hass, The Essential Haiku, p 310 [return]
  2. Ibid, p 311 [return]
  3. Ibid, p 312 [return]
  4. Ibid, p 314 [return]

The Essential Haiku, End Notes

… today starts the notes on Issa’s poems…

… in today’s notes, i learn that…

  • the Buddhism Issa’s family practiced is that of the Jodo-shin-shu sect which has become Mahayanna Buddhism in present day Japan… it is the most important school of Buddhism in Japan and is considered mainline, middle class… it accounts for some aspects of Issa’s sensibilities…1
  • Robert Bly believes didactic intent is not in the realm of haiku, that is, haiku should not seek to teach… what then, should haiku do?… observe?… and really, if it observes well, doesn’t an astute student learn from it?… doesn’t it teach?… it feels like an odd and splitting hairs sort of distinction…
  • scarecrows are an autumn kigo, which are words or phrases with seasonal reference, in haiku, a cultural code for the seasons… i found this extensive list of kigo in Wikipedia…
  • The World of Dew is direct reference to Buddhist teaching about the ephemeral nature of things… in Mahayana formulation, it is this: All conditioned things are like a dream, a phantom, a drop of dew, a lightning flash. This is how to observe them.2
  • that women turning into serpents figure in No and Kabuki plays…3

… i have finished the notes related to Issa and a section of Basho on how to make poems… it is interesting to me that Hass spends much more note space on Basho than either of the other two poets… because of the stature of his poetry?… or, are Buson and Issa generally a little more accessible to the western mind?…


  1. Robert Haas, The Essential Haiku, pp 284-85 [return]
  2. Robert Haas, The Essential Haiku, p 289 [return]
  3. Ibid, p 292 [return]

The Essential Haiku, End Notes

… more notes on Buson…

… i learn that:

  • the mountain cuckoo lives in deep forest, is often heard, seldom seen… the tradition is that nobody knows much about it, so secretive is it
  • a deer crying three times = fall

… i am finished with the notes on Buson… next is Issa, then i move on to other reading material…

The Essential Haiku, End Notes

… i was telling my brother and sister yesterday that i have found reading this book of Haiku has had a daily centering effect on me… in light of all the family trauma and drama going on right now, this has been useful…

… more notes on the poems of Buson…

… i learn that in Buson’s time, there was an annual doll festival held in the spring… this poem talks about it…

the lights are going out

in the doll shops—

spring rain.

… i wonder about the translation not relying on cultural knowledge of doll festivals happening in the Spring in Buson’s time, and so reiterating that it is spring in the third line… i suppose it is so obscure that western audiences need the help?…

… Bats flitting here and there: Hass relates this poem to The Young Housewife, a poem by William Carlos Williams… i look up the poem, find it slightly confusing, but understand the connection… a poem of longing, less clearly so in the case of Buson…

… i learn about a particular willow tree that has long poetic tradition, visited and written about by Saigyo, Basho, Buson… i am reminded of the catalpa tree in the graveyard… from there, i remember a comment on my photos utility poles and wires at the last Salon, comparing them unfavorably to R. Crumb’s drawings of the same subject… i look them up and find this short video slide show set to the music of Joni Mitchel’s The Big Yellow Taxi… i respect the person who made the comment, but, i don’t think they were right…

… hmm… from the haiku of Buson to the drawings of R. Crumb and music of Joni Mitchel…

The Essential Haiku, End Notes

… i’ve moved on to the notes on Buson’s haiku…

… Buson seems a more down to earth poet as i have observed earlier…

… i learn that erotic themes are not generally pursued in traditional haiku, Basho certainly doesn’t… Buson, perhaps, indirectly…

… i learn that leeks are a winter vegetable… i am growing leeks in my planter tanks… i look up when to harvest them… soon…

The Essential Haiku, Notes

… continuing with my reading of the end notes of the book…

… i learn that the Japanese have a word, tani-watari, for the sound a Bush Warbler makes when flying from one valley to another…

… i learn about a book, The Karma of Words, written by William LeFleur, and order an inexpensive used copy… the subtitle is, Buddhism and the Literary Arts in Medieval Japan…

… this poem is discussed…

still alive

and frozen in one lump—

the sea slugs

… i am reminded that i received my copy of Rise Ye Sea Slugs!, by Robin D. Gill, which turned out to be nothing like what i thought it would be… i wish i could retrace my steps in purchasing the book because it’s a pretty humorous mistake and difference… what i thought i had purchased was a book that offered multiple translations of Japanese haiku, by well known poets, in an effort to get at the difficult to translate subtleties of the poems… what i received was a book of haiku, with large amounts of explanatory text of various kinds, solely on the subject of sea slugs!… oh my… i’ve read snippets and am intrigued… when i am done with TEH, i will start in on the sea slugs… the note that Haas provides on the above poem tells me that the sea slug is usually a humorous reference in Japanese poetry… indeed…

… i learn that Night Herons are associated with the uncanny by the Japanese…

… on the recommendation of Haas, i also purchase a previously owned copy of Basho and His Interpreters: Selected Hokku with Commentary… i think i am officially diving down a rabbit hole, Japanese haiku… it’s an indirect way to get at Buddhism also… that i am finding it compelling at this moment likely has to do with my dad’s impending death… i have found it helpful…

The Essential Haiku, End Notes

… a sense of the impossibility of translating Japanese haiku is given in these two paragraphs…

Winter Sun: This is Ueda’s translation, from Basho and His Interpreters, p. 170. The alliteration and assonance in this poem are particularly admired: fuyu no hi ya bajo ni koru kageboshi.1

… and…

A Petal Shower: The phrase used to describe the falling petals is onomatopoeic: horohoro. Some connection between that sound and the sound of the river.2

… in the note to the poem How Admirable!, some sound information on enlightenment, which is…

to see nothing that is not there, and the nothing that is.3

  • squid seller/summer
  • cuckoo/summer
  • peach blossoms/late spring
  • foxes/mischievous, supernatural powers

… the commentary on Hailstones…

Hard things hitting hard things in a hard place. Mountain passes were mysterious places in old Japanese culture, inhabited by boundary gods and placatory shrines, sometimes with the carved figure of a man and a woman coupling.4


  1. Robert Haas, The Essential Haiku, p. 258. [return]
  2. Ibid, p. 258. [return]
  3. Ibid, p. 259. [return]
  4. Ibid, p. 259-60. [return]

The Essential Haiku, Notes

… reading the notes, i learn or confirm that…

  • Basho was most likely gay
  • cuckoo = summer
  • squid = summer
  • Japanese haiku are full of nuances that don’t translate… thus, the book that is on it’s way, featuring multiple translations of single haiku…
  • chrysanthemum = fall
  • chrysanthemum is competitively cultivated in Japan, is associated with purity and the royal family of Edo

The Essential Haiku

… i have finished all the pages that are direct translations from works of, or about, the masters… the last piece excerpts from a record of Basho working with his students… even though Basho tells us earlier that we must write down the first lines to come into our minds… it becomes clear in this final piece that poems are revisited, refined… it is as one would expect… also, that poems were sometimes communal efforts…

… i will next read through the notes of the book as the first one illuminated the general acceptance of homosexual love in Basho’s time… i wonder when, if, that changed?…

… in a few days i have a new book coming… Rise Ye Sea Slugs!… what a title… it is a compilation of translations of well known haiku… multiple translations as, generally speaking, it is impossible to give a perfect representation of a haiku in translation…

Basho On Poetry

… winding down to the end of The Essential Haiku…

The basis of art is change in the universe. What’s still has changeless form. Moving things change, and because we cannot put a stop to time, it continues unarrested. To stop a thing would be to halve a sight or sound in our heart. Cherry blossoms whirl, leaves fall, and the wind flits them both along the ground. We cannot arrest with our eyes or ears what lies in such things. Were we to gain mastery over them, we would find that the life of each thing had vanished without a trace.1

Poetry is a fireplace in summer or a fan in winter.2

… Basho promoting Panpsychism?…

Every form of insentient existence—plants, stones, or utensils—has its individual feelings similar to those of men3

… Learn from the Pine has a lot of wisdom… it comforts me because in general, i follow its proscriptions, not perfectly, not even admirably, but i follow them as best i can…


  1. Basho, Learn from the Pine, via The Essential Haiku [return]
  2. Ibid [return]
  3. Ibid [return]

The Prose of Issa

… excerpts from “A Year of My Life (1819)…

… the interesting part being prose passages after which haiku have been inserted… as if what happened in the prose lead to the poem… or course, it could also be that the poem was written at some time in the past and inserted for it’s relevance to the moment described in the prose… Issa inserted one of his most famous poems after a passage about the death of his daughter…

The world of dew,

is the world of dew,

and yet, and yet—

… the prose in general seems to be a little banal, a little removed emotionally from what it talks about… i wonder if these journal entries seem the same to anyone who reads them?…

The Haiku of Issa

… the last two in the book…

  • insects floating down the river on a branch, still singing…
    • literally, one can imagine a branch breaking off and carrying insects with it… that they would be oblivious to the changed circumstances and still be singing…
    • or, they might apprehend that there is little they can do about the change in circumstance, why not keep singing?…
    • or, they might be pleased to be on a new adventure, and sing with joyous expectation…
    • metaphorically, humanity often finds itself oblivious to the peril it is in… carried along by the years, without really understanding what their lives are about…
  • the poet’s death poem…
    • the stupidity of (being) bathed at the beginning and end of life…
      • i struggle with this one literally and figuratively, why would bathing the newborn or the dead be stupid?…
      • is the poet complaining that life should find a better way to begin and end?…

… i have a new book on haiku coming… this one offers multiple translations of each haiku as a singular haiku can’t get at all the nuances and cultural references of the original… it’s a thick book apparently… may take me a long time to get through it…

The Haiku of Issa

… i am nearing the end of The Essential Haiku… a few more poems, a couple of prose pieces at the end of the book, i am finished… yesterday i gathered together a dozen of my micro poems to read at an event in the evening that was postponed until next week due to the rain… a COVID precaution… i read them to H who did not seem that enthusiastic about them… haiku and micro poems are funny things… i suspect you get them, or you don’t and the difference between a passable one and a great one is hard to pin down… they need to be specific enough to call you to the details of a moment, but then use those details to open a window on the infinite…

… today’s haiku summaries and interpretations…

  • a small boat drifts down the tide under an autumn moon…
    • first interpretation is literal, a scene observed
    • second interpretation, the small boat represents the poet in late middle age, early old age, as seasons equate to stages in life…
    • tides are cyclical and related to the moon…
    • the moon is enlightenment, the poet drifts in the light of enlightenment and with the push, pull of the tides…
  • I’m here and the snow is falling…
    • first interpretation, literal, the poet standing in the falling snow…
    • second interpretation, old age has overtaken the poet, but he is still there, still alive…
  • making very straight holes with piss in the snow…
    • it’s hard to go to far beyond the literal interpretation here… i suppose the straight piss stream would be a good sign for an elderly man… still some virility left…
  • missing her grumbling, the moon…
    • pining for a woman under the moon…
    • in Buddhism, the moon is a symbol of enlightenment, Issa was a lay Buddhist priest, so it is likely the Buddhist significance of the moon prevails in his writings…
    • so, perhaps it is longing for a woman under the light of the moon, or perhaps it is longing for feminine wisdom to complete enlightenment…
  • the nose of a new foal among the irises…
    • it is hard to go beyond the literal here, though spring and rebirth could be a general theme of the poem…
  • a peasant woman planting towards her crying child, crooked row…
    • this is one that could be literal but is perhaps more satisfying to interpret as metaphor…
      • the strength of a mother’s love, the bond between mother and child…
      • the strength of the bond of family…
      • the pull of youth on the not so young…
      • longing for youth…
      • the triumph of heart over mind…

The Haiku of Issa

… each day i read six Haiku from The Essential Haiku, translations by Robert Hass… i do it as a mindfulness practice, to start my day with something centering, something that shows how to be in the moments and see what is present, what is important, what your connection to the earth, sun, moon and stars is…

  • thirty days after the daughter’s death… fall winds, flowers the daughter liked to pick…
    • a visit to the daughters grave in the fall with the flowers she liked to pick…
    • a melancholy poem…
  • a woodpecker still drilling as the sun goes down…
    • little information on the symbolism of woodpeckers in Japan, but i did read that they are incredibly industrious, foraging for food, building nests, drilling holes in which to store food for the winter… this poem seems to be a nod to that industriousness…
    • as i contemplate the poem, i wonder about human industriousness… humans have something called leisure time… is that a good thing?… well, perhaps it is mostly older humans that arrive at a place with leisure time… i don’t know… i work pretty hard, try to write and make pictures every day… among other things…
  • autumn mountains recede against a clear pale sky…
    • this one seems quite literal… i wonder if the mountains equate to time passing and there is a melancholy about being towards the end of life and mountains that won’t get climbed…
  • upon the son’s death… asking why the wild pink broke…
    • best i can figure is wild pink refers to flowers of the spring, maybe pink moss?… why was life ended at such an early age?…
  • a pheasant cries, did it just notice the mountain?…
    • the author staring at the mountain?… a pheasant cries bringing him out of his mountain reverie and leading to a pondering of the motivations of pheasants…
  • mother guarding, foal drinking water from the pond…
    • this one seems like a straight forward rendering of a scene… horses are significant in Japanese culture, gods in their mythology, but i am not sure that knowledge helps an understanding of the poem…

The Haiku of Issa

Today’s six Haiku summarized with notes on what they mean or suggest to me, or the questions they raise…

  • watching dawn over green fields with his father…
    • the generations, time, intertwines… green fields are spring, early summer fields, the poet will be younger than the father…
  • unaware fish in a tub, cooling at the gate…
    • about to be dinner?… this is not the first poem suggesting animals are unaware of time, of the near future, of the past… they are all about just being in the present moment…
  • ducks quacking on a new year’s morning…
    • in celebration?, or just doing what ducks do?… a sign that nothing has changed… a quack to greet the new year… humans make of it what they will…
  • the world of dew, and yet…
    • one of the more famous and enigmatic poems Issa wrote… dew is short lived past the dawn… as the sun climbs, it evaporates away, yet while there, magic occurs, little worlds by the millions, sparkling diamonds… yes, dew is dew, nothing more, and yet, when gazed upon by eyes that see… and yet…
  • a spring day lingers in the pools…
    • i guess this would be the pools of a stream or small river…
  • beneath an image of Buddha, tiresome spring flowers…
    • initially i thought statue of Buddha, then i thought painting or print depicting Buddha… which makes me think of a Buddha alter in the home with spring flowers placed beneath it… why tiresome?… is it tiresome by comparison to the concept of Buddha?… is the devotion of placing flowers tiresome… why tiresome?…

The Haiku of Issa

… less progress on actual unraveling of meaning in these haiku today, but, several books on the subject, one of which i have ordered for my library… one thing that i knew, but which is confirmed in my exploration today, no single translation can transmit all the meaning possibilities packed into a great haiku… numerous translations are required…

  • on turning fifty: from this day on, it’s all profit…
    • was fifty the life expectancy when Issa was alive?, that would seem to be the implication…
  • a butterfly flitting, a child crawling, repeat…
    • another one of those ordinary moments
    • but also, butterflies are symbols of rebirth and transformation and are thought to be the souls of the departed… so the image of child and butterfly is one of a conversation between a new being and an old soul…
  • on sea slugs not seaming Japanese…
  • writing poems to please the rich is not art…
    • i can relate to this… art is too much driven by wealth now as it was then…
  • envy of the child being scolded, end of the year…
    • to be a child again?, from the vantage point of old age?…
  • cuckoo singing, nothing special to do, even for the burweed…

Haiku of Issa

  • sin is not possible without talent, on a winter day…
    • if talent is lacking then being lazy on a winter day isn’t a sin?…
  • four or five pennies for the poor, evening rain…
    • the scene set, it is melancholy…
  • a cuckoo singing to the poet and the mountain, the poet and then the mountain…
    • like an echo?…
    • summer harbinger, summer poem…
    • mourning, melancholy, longing… these are the things the bird symbolizes, though, not being Japanese, i don’t naturally pick up on these implied feelings…
  • holes in the wall whistle flute like on an autumn evening…
    • imperfect human-verse…
    • there is a without and within to this poem… without, winter is coming… holes in the wall need fixing… but for now… a pleasant song…
  • a fat priest with one foot out the door on the last prayer…
    • even priests can be half assed…
  • skinny mosquitoes, skinny fleas, skinny children, stupid world…
    • why is the world stupid and not wondrous?…
    • who would think up such a world?…
    • mosquitoes, fleas and children, all in the same world… imagine that…

The Haiku of Issa

… studying and trying to interpret the Haiku of Basho, Buson and Issa, and trying to write my own micro poems has had an interesting effect… it has led me to begin withdrawing from Instagram and Facebook and to reconsider the attitude with which i make art… i have decided that it might be better simply to make and let the universe decide what will come from it…

… on with the Issa haiku…

  • napping at mid day, the song of rice planters, shame…
    • are midday naps a luxury in a world that requires our labor to make order in chaos and put food on our tables?… planting rice is a spring activity, so this is a spring poem?
  • melons don’t notice the intentions of thieves…
    • human motivation is of no concern to the greater part of the cosmos…
  • a pretty girl munching and rustling wrapped up rice cake…
    • for a heterosexual poet, a pretty girl is always worth paying attention to…
  • warning the cricket that rolling over is immanent…
    • crickets are symbols of good fortune in Chinese, Japanese and Native American culture… nobody would want to kill one, intentionally or accidentally…
    • Buddhists tend to honor all living things…
  • an old dog listening for the songs of earthworms?…
    • not sure what to make of this one…
    • sleeping on its side on the ground?…
    • a poem about old age and death?…
  • a crow walking along the field as if it were tilling it…
    • hmmm… the crow acting as if it owns the field… following its nature?…
    • could it be any other way?…
    • crows are about transformation… they move in and clean up the carrion of battles…
    • crows are message carriers…
    • all birds are opportunities for awakening and becoming present…
    • the crow is an autumn and winter bird…
    • the crow is a dusk, or end of day bird…
    • the crow might therefor be associated with old age, and since often thought of as bearers of messages and symbols of rebirth, might have something to do with the wisdom of old age which moves through the fields tilling them for rebirth in the spring…

The Haiku of Issa

  • tiger moth enjoying itself, the poet asks how much…
    • wasn’t able to find much about moth symbolism, maybe a connection to departed ancestors…
  • horse approaching a sparrow, will the sparrow move?…
    • the horse is considered a god and has been worshipped since antiquity
    • the sparrow, on the other hand, i didn’t find much except a fairy tale, the Tongue-Cut Sparrow, which is a morality tale about greed and friendship…
    • the sparrow might be seen as a symbol of strength and industriousness and in juxtaposition to the horse might be about the wisdom of knowing limitations?…
  • apparently, the mountain cuckoo is a crybaby…
    • ahh, here we have more depth to pursue…
    • _The cuckoo has long been popular as a subject in Japanese literature and Haiku, possibly to do with the word having five syllables; and in literature and myth it is associated with the longing of the spirits of the dead to return to their loved ones. Mourning, longing, melancholy; these are suggested maybe by its song and perhaps signals its persistent use in woodblock prints.1
  • dew drops falling by ones and twos, it’s a wonderful life…
  • a query to scarecrow, where does cold come from?…
    • a fall into winter poem?… in Japanese culture, scarecrows are thought of as being all knowing… i wonder if there is linkage between scarecrow in the Wizzard of Oz and scarecrows in Japanese culture?…
  • apparently the moon bends to the shape of cold…
    • in Buddhism, the moon is a symbol of inner enlightenment, so this poem might be about old age and wisdom…
    • interestingly, in the Shinto religion, the moon is possibly male, but also inconclusively gendered, more appropriate to the pronoun they… the major achievement of Tsukuyomi (in the male form), who was married to Amaterasu (sun goddess), was to kill Ukemochi (the goddess of food) because she she spat out and coughed up food for her guests (appalling etiquette as far as Tukuyomi was concerned)… when Amaterasu found out she promptly divorced him and relegated him to the night sky2
    • Issa was a lay priest in the Buddhist religion…
    • i don’t think this poem channels the Shinto moon god…

The Haiku of Issa

The Six Ways…

… this is a funny set of six… there are…

  • Hell… in which there is a bright autumn moon and snails crying in the saucepan… a kind of hell on earth, if the cosmos is delivering something bad to you…
  • The Hungry Ghosts… in which flowers are scattering, water is scarce, the far off mists tease us with the possibility of water… this one about how enlightenment is illusive, especially when we allow ourselves to “thirst” for it…
  • Animals… in which it is pointed out that the falling of the flower petals mean nothing to them, they see no Buddha in it, but then again, it might be that they are all Buddhas because they lack desire and the ability to differentiate themselves from the cosmos…
  • Malignant Spirits… in which, people carry on petty argumentative lives and gambling, not seeing the shadow of blossoms they are in… a Plato’s Cave type of analogy?… also seems to channel the spirit of conservatives in the present time…
  • Men… in which humans squirm around on the ground amidst the blossoming flowers… no better than the animals?… “squirming around” channels the image of worms to me…
  • The Heaven Dwellers… in which lazy humans on a hazy day excuse themselves by thinking even the gods must be indolent…

… i really like this set of poems…

Haiku by Issa

… a strange set this AM…

… one about fleas in the hut and someone looks skinny… a woman i am guessing…

… another about a zealous flea about to become a Buddha by the poet’s hand… a contradiction since Buddhism counsels non violence?…

… another about ducks bobbing on water and hoping to get lucky…

… another about a dragonfly dressed in red off to the festival…

… dragonflies are another animal that has cultural significance in Japan…

… this from Wikipedia…

 As a seasonal symbol in Japan, the dragonflies are associated with season of autumn. In Japan, they are symbols of rebirth, courage, strength, and happiness. They are also depicted frequently in Japanese art and literature, especially haiku poetry. Japanese children catch large dragonflies as a game, using a hair with a small pebble tied to each end, which they throw into the air. The dragonfly mistakes the pebbles for prey, gets tangled in the hair, and is dragged to the ground by the weight.1

… the festival referred to in the poem is probably the festival of Obon, which is…

A Buddhist tradition celebrated in Japan for over 500 years, Obon is an annual three-day event held in honor of one’s ancestors, which sees families get together as the spirits visit household altars. More recently, the holiday has become a time for family reunions, as people return to their hometowns and revisit the graves of the deceased.2

… and it’s relation to Obon…

 Although they are seen in abundance in early summer, tombo have become associated with the autumn and are often represented flying among the autumn grasses in Japanese art. A folk belief persists that the tombo is the steed of departed ancestors who return to visit their families during the summer festival of Obon.3