Haiku and waka discussion

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Death poems

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message 1: by Shawn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:09PM) (new)

Shawn (shawnb) | 18 comments Mod
I noticed that you read a book on Death Poems. After I started reading a lot of Basho and Saigyo, I started wondering about death poems and if there was a compilation of them. I guess there is, and I guess that I'm going to be buying it.


message 2: by Aitai (new)

Aitai | 1 comments there very well may be more than one, but the compilation that i have is:

"japanese death poems: written by zen monks and haiku poets on the verge of death" by Yoel Hoffmann

it's extremely interesting.


message 3: by Harley (new)

Harley | 42 comments I read Japanese Death Poems in 2005 and continue to go back to it from time to time. Here is the one by Basho (p. 143):

On a journey, ill:
my dream goes wandering
over withered fields

Here is one by Chogo (p. 153):

I long for people —
then again I loathe them:
end of autumn

There is so much truth in this haiku. There are moments when I long for people to break my loneliness and then there are other moments when I am sick and tired of the politics of working with other people — tired of beating my head against a wall. Even in death, the poet is thinking of the people in his life, both the joy they gave him and the grief they caused. For most of us, we have a love-hate relationship with the people in our lives.

Here is what tradition says is Issa's death poem (p. 200):

What matter if I live on —
a tortoise lives
a hundred times as long

Even though Issa lived to age 65, he knew that the tortoise would outlive him. Nature outlives us all. We all die but the world of nature goes on. We may die but our friends and family continue on. If for one minute we believe that the world can't function without us, we are mistaken. Our time here is short like the firefly.



message 4: by Dottie (new)

Dottie | 13 comments Even the death poems inspire and uplift. They record the world and life in a spiritual way that transcend the temporal, yet celebrate them, too. I'm not saying this well, because sometimes there are just no words except haiku to express it!


message 5: by Harley (new)

Harley | 42 comments I agree the death poems do inspire and uplift. As haiku reveal time and again: Life is fleeting so celebrate it.


message 6: by Lorraine (new)

Lorraine Rose (lorrainecipriano) | 1 comments Harley wrote: "I read Japanese Death Poems in 2005 and continue to go back to it from time to time. Here is the one by Basho (p. 143):

On a journey, ill:
my dream goes wandering
over withered fields

Here is ..."




Harley, I have read this book also- I love it!


message 7: by Harley (new)

Harley | 42 comments Hi Lorraine, I just read your comment a year after you wrote it. I guess my dreams have been wandering.


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