Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Meditations in Winter: Issa: Wren at Dusk


File:Troglodytes aedon NPS.jpg

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon), Apache Springs Trail, Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico: photo by S. King, 2007 (US National Park Service)

The wren is chirruping
But it grows dusk
Just the same.


Dusk from on board an Airbus A330: photo by mailer diablo, 2006

The wren is chirruping: Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827), translated by Reginald Horace Blyth




Thanks for these words and pictures -- Johnny says "Hi


pink coming into clouds above blackness
of ridge, silver of planet above branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

orange of moon rising above
ridge, black branches

against it, child on yellow
quilt, lights on tree

silver of sunlight reflected in channel,
white cloud in pale blue sky on horizon

aditya said...

The word verification text as it turns out is charp.

A man, just one -
also a fly, just one -
in the huge drawing room.

TC said...

Hi, Johnny.

Temporality is our pipeline to the colours of Time. Pink, orange, pale blue, white, silver -- luminosity and shimmer, Steve. (Those words took several minutes to type, with a large cat rubbing the top of his head upon my hunt and pecking fingers, one rub per fumbled keystroke. That's what friends are for.)

Aditya, charp is not cheap. (Only high class wv's dispensed here.)

Here is R.H. Blyth commenting on this Issa haiku (1951):

"There is in this something of Burns' 'To a Mouse', which also belongs to the season of winter. Men may work and women may weep, the mouse builds its house of 'foggage green', but the inevitable hangs over it, old age must come; in the morning the sun rises, in the evening it sets."

Which reminds me, once upon a time, in one of those odd meetings that once they're over seem never to have happened, I was hailed in the street, at the foot of a steep hill in a residential neighborhood, by an 84 year old Japanese American lady, very polite and smartly dressed, standing on a corner, evidently lost, toting a wheeled suitcase. I asked if she needed help. She said she had set out with all her belongings in the direction of the Buddhist Temple, and was waiting for the bus. But that bus line had terminated service some time ago, I pointed out. Oh yes, that's right, she said sadly, almost remembering. I ended up wheeling her things back up the hill for her. On the way she explained that members of her family had been in Zone 1 at Hiroshima; that she and her parents and several siblings, who had left Japan shortly before the War, had then been interned for three years in Utah; that after the War she and her husband had encountered considerable racial prejudice when trying to settle in this area.

After that, she said, she had gone on to have a substantial career here as an "educator".

All this told very calmly and cheerfully.

I asked if she knew of Issa. No, she said.

I recited this "Wren" haiku.

She brightened.

"Oh, there is a bird that lives at the top of my cypress tree. It sings to me. And you know what? I sing back!"

So I guess you're as young as you feel, like they say.

Bewildered elders
calling out to each other
through the fog: strangers?

A wren and a fly
in a huge drawing room
at dusk -- How did we get here?


And while we're here... a couple more wren haiku from Issa:

The wren
Earns his living

Look! this lonely grave,
With the wren
That is always here.

aditya said...

Great anecdote. Sometimes you do come across as an amiable man Tom. On a more serious note-

Through the fog
I wave my fingers
to my eyes

वसंत का पहला दिन
आज़ादी ढूंढ़ता हुआ मैं
घर से दर-ब-दर

(Its a bus for Dharamshala we are on tonight Tom. We are overlooking the Dhauladhars and the sun is shining.)

TC said...

Sun shining through fog
in the mountains
upon the poet in the bus.



Lovely R.H. Blyth story, including "in the morning the sun rises, in the evening it sets."


light coming into sky above still black
ridge, planet next to moon above branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

lights on jet below Orion’s
left knee, grey plane

of clouds above black trees,
ridge, waves sounding

sunlit white cloud above plane of ridge,
waning moon in pale blue sky on horizon