flowers, haiku, photography

Elegy in 3-5-3

Basho (1644-1694) mourned the death of his friend and teacher Tando with a beautiful sad haiku.  A CDHK episode calls for variations on this theme.  Mine is an elegy for Tando.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

Basho (1644-1694) mourned the death of his friend and teacher Tando with a beautiful sad haiku:

© Matsuo Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)
|falling to the ground
|a flower closer to the root
|bidding farewell

Chèvrefeuille presents his own beautiful variation on this sad theme in the CDHK episode

Carpe Diem Weekend-meditation #14 Revise That Haiku

and challenges readers to “revise” Basho’s haiku in the same spirit:

© Chèvrefeuille
|tears flow
|falling to the ground
|autumn leaves

My response honors Tando’s influence on Basho (and hence on countless haiku poets) with imagery like Basho’s but a change in the metaphorical correspondence between the 2 people and some parts of flowering plants.  As he weeps, Basho also resolves to carry on.

Elegy for Tando
|Flowers fall,
|but seeds will ripen.
|Some will sprout.


17 thoughts on “Elegy in 3-5-3

  1. Elegy for Tando rises beyond Basho’s expression of personal grief, not through hope for a brighter future, but by the truth of inevitable reality. Nicely done.

    Perhaps you can enlighten me about the present-day shift away from haiku’s traditionally inviolable 5-7-5 rhythmic structure. Why are deviant forms still cosidered “haiku”?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The ins and outs of 5-7-5 for haiku in English are a long but interesting story.  The rule arose from a mistranslation of [onji] as [syllable].  (A better translation would be [mora], but hardly anybody who is not a linguist can count morae in English.)  Some haiku poets are excessively obedient to 5-7-5 (with syllables); others don’t give a rat’s ass for the rule.  Most of my own haiku comply with 5-7-5.

      Typing “5-7-5” into the search box on my blog yielded 8 hits.  The hits with titles
      On Rules: Moral Hazard; 5-7-5; … and Seedless 😀 — Needless 😬 are the most explicit about the various attitudes toward the 5-7-5 rule (and some other aspects of haiku) and what they suggest about bigger concerns.

      Dunno who first proposed writing haiku in 3-5-3.  Have seen a few; have written very few.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the thoughts and information. I took a workshop in haiku four years ago. I guess the instructor, a published poet who specialized in haiku, but whose name I don’t recall, must have been a traditionalist. She never suggested there were other schools of thought about the form’s structure or content characteristics. So, has the definition of Haiku devolved to “3 non-rhyming lines”? Or would Haiku be a subset of all 3-line, non-rhyming poems?

        Call a rose daisy —
        still smells sweet; ask for daisy,
        you won’t get a rose.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I like your wry haiku about the flip side of the Big Bad Bard’s familiar observation.

          I had thought that poems in haiku form must have 3 lines.  Then I wrote a 2-line haiku:


          Chèvrefeuille commented that Santoka Taneda also wrote some 2-line haiku.  It’s still safe to say that most haiku are short 3-line poems w/o rhymes.  Beyond that, I’d rather say things like “often” or “commonly” rather than “most” (let alone “all”).

          Triaphiles can rest easy: I worked up a 3-line version that I liked better than my original 2 lines.  But at least one reader preferred the 2-line original.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ha ha, thanks. My wry haiku also protests the devolution of language. You’ve provided articulate support for expanding the English language’s faulty understanding of the word “haiku” to include other structures and contents than our traditional interpretation of haiku as the non-rhyming, 3-line, 17-syllable, 5-7-5 poem that includes some seasonal reference and a poignant relationship between nature and humanity. But it leaves me without a word for the specific form I was taught was ‘haiku”. I fear making language less specific only lessens our ability to communicate.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Thanks for the reminder that it is still possible for some people to disagree amicably on some subjects.  I think this discussion may warrant yet another post rather than just another reply.  Right now, I am busy and way behind in my reading, so there will be a long delay in either case.  Here is a teaser:
                              2^4 == 16 and 2^6 == 64

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I am intrigued. Having no mastery of either logic or coding, I believe “2^5 == 32” might substitute for the expression on either side of your “and”, but I am unsure where you’re going with this. Progressions of truth? Comparative structures resulting in different solutions? I’m happy to wait through your long delay to read your upcoming revealing post. 🙂

                Liked by 2 people

                  1. Delighted, entertained, stimulated and intrigued by a conversation between two bloggers and writers I esteem. I’m fascinated by haiku but intimidated also. I often state that writers should not be discouraged by comparing themselves to the classics, but I’ve never attempted haiku because when I read Shiki that’s exactly what happens.

                    Liked by 2 people

                    1. Glad U enjoyed the exchange and hope U will enjoy the post that should eventually result.

                      The current draft of the prospective post is a haibun, and it occurs to me that U might feel less intimidated by Shiki if U set out to write a haiku for that kind of partnership, rather than as something to stand alone.  Some prose sets the stage for a haiku; the haiku puts a finishing touch (or maybe an ironic twist) on the prose.  Synergy.

                      Historically, haibun were often about experiences in interesting places, and U have a lot of experience writing about life in Mayotte and Provence.  The prose in a haibun could be a short story instead.  Dunno whether haibun fiction has ever been done, but somebody has to be first to do anything.  U certainly have a lot of experience writing stories.

                      Liked by 2 people

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