Friday, 27 April 2018

Spring Rain

One of the best vantage points to observe the arrival of spring is the kitchen table of our flat in Bristol. Situated on the Bristol side of the Avon Gorge, we have a beautiful, commanding view over the river towards Leigh Woods on the south-west side. The leaves and blossom are just emerging, and each species of tree still has its distinctive shade of green. I can (and do) sit for hours, just watching the ever-changing spectacle outside. You can see the showers of rain coming up the Gorge and passing by as if they were scenery on the stage of a toy theatre.

Here are two cards interpreting that arrival. The words are by Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), probably my favourite haiku poet:
The spring rain:
A little girl teaches
The cat to dance
I love the fact that his pen-name, Issa, means "a cup of tea". Now there's a good idea! Why not?


amolitor said...

Have you read any of Jack Kerouac's haiku?

I quite dislike the fellow, and my reaction to his writing is pretty mixed, but his American Haiku strike me as true to the notion of haiku, and also distinctly American (or perhaps at any rate Western, but, yeah, probably American)

Mike C. said...

No, I wasn't aware he had written any, I'll look them up. I think I must have read every Kerouac novel there is back in the 60s -- before the likes of Brautigan etc. turned up, Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg, et al. were the hippest game in town (my town, anyway). TBH as a kid I loved anything American! It's hard to recall, now, what a drab place post-war Britain was. Hey, Joe, got any gum?

Haiku as practised in Japan and as "appropriated" in the West are rather different beasts, as I'm sure you know. I suspect you really have to be a Japanese speaker (I'm not) and a student of the slightly OCD-ish obsessiveness of Japanese culture to fully understand them, not to mention the repetitive use of seasonal and Buddhist tropes. It was a revelation to me, for example, when the penny dropped that they are not actually broken into three lines, a la Blyth and everyone else, but written out in the equivalent of one line in Japanese.