Monday, August 24, 2015

Across the blue, blue ocean

During a YT Haiku Retreat, and looking west from Asilomar, towards Japan, birthplace of haiku.

Each of these haiku has a headnote which helps to place it in historical context; 
I have italicized these headnotes.

Air raids night after night

clear starlit sky
in freezing night, after the planes
roar has vanished

Ishibasho Hideno

Soldier of a defeated country . . .
autumn's hot sun
nowhere on his military cap
twinkle the stars

Ishibasho Hideno

Often seen in the street
to a redhead
"Hello!"--how depressing
this spring rain*

Ishibasho Hideno

*after the war, hungry children would call out, "hello" in English 
to American GIs in hopes of being given candy.


I found the life story of this poet very moving because Kiyoshi Tokutomi, one of our founders (and an American citizen)
was in Japan at this same time, having been prevented 
by the war from returning from his schooling in Japan. 
He also contracted tuberculosis at this time
and suffered from the consequences the rest of his life.
And, with tuberculosis, one always remembers Shiki!

This Japanese woman haiku poet has only one book of poems, 
Sakura Koku (Cherry Blossoms Deep) 
which was published by her husband 
after her early death from tuberculosis, 
soon after World War II. 

I found her story in Far Beyond the Field: Haiku by Japanese Women; compiled and translated with an introduction by Makoto Ueda, Columbia University Press, 2003, Kindle location 2101. 
This excellent book is still in print 
and is also available on Kindle.

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