Saturday, May 5, 2012

Classic Poetry - Haiku by Ryusui

I offer a twist today, fellow poets: Haiku.

In modern writing, the form requires seventeen syllables in three lines, 5 ~ 7 ~ 5. This is loosely based on the traditional Japanese form consisting of 17 on (also known as morae), in three phrases of 5, 7 and 5 on.

A haiku master about which little is known, Yoshida Ryusui is often cited and quoted as a poet who exemplified the key element of "cutting," represented by two images or ideas with a kireji, a cutting word, between them, punctuating the separation as well as the similarities between the two images.

Below I give you "A lost child crying" in the original Japanese followed by two English translations.

Naku naku tsukamu
Hotaru kana

-Yoshida Ryusui (1691-1758)

The lost child cries,
And as he cries, he clutches
At the fireflies.


A lost child crying
stumbling over the dark fields...
catching fireflies

And here are a couple more of Ryusui's more famous Haiku. Can you feel the juxtaposition and cutting of images and ideas?

In all this cool
is the moon also sleeping?
There, in the pool?

A dead chrysanthemum
and yet - isn't there still something
remaining in it?


  1. Wow, Kim, thanks for introducing this poet. I love his haiku. Especially the moon poem.

  2. Thank you, Kim. I was completely unfamiliar with Ryusui, and am very glad to make his acquaintance.

  3. Kim, not a poet I was familiar with. Thanks.


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