Haiku: Zen Haiku by Jonathan Clements đź“š

This book is a lovely mix of two topics of interest to me combined with amazing Japanese prints and paintings.

There were a few sections of the intro that grabbed me. And also provide another set of answers to my long-running question: what is haiku?

“Haiku seeks, in a handful of words, to crystallize an instant in all its fullness, encouraging through the experience of the moment the union of the reader with all existence. The reader side-steps conventional perception, startled into a momentary but full understanding of the poet’s experience. By locking reader and poet into the same reality, haiku helps us perceive the ultimate unity of all realities. Haiku transforms the most mundane of moments into something special.”

It’s not just the notes, but also the space between the notes that make music.

“The haiku poet, knowing that words are not enough to capture the fullness of any moment, inscribes a partial idea that leaves an all-important space for the reader to fill in.‘”

Sometimes less is more.

“The poem tells us as much with omission as it does with inclusion.”

The book is divided into four sections based on the time of day (instead of the classical season based approach). Here are a few of the haiku that I particularly liked from each section.

Dawn
my gardener of chrysanthemums you are become their servant.
Buson

the black crow that I always despised,
and yet, against the snowy dawn…
Basho

Daylight
if seen by day
a firefly
is just a red-necked bug.
Basho

a fallen flower
flew back to its perch
a butterfly.
Moritake

Dusk
even if the cherry flowers bloom
ours is a world of suffering.
Issa

that soon they will die
is unknown
to the chirping cicadas.
Basho

Moonlight
some villages have no sea bream
some no flowers
but all see tonight’s moon.
Saikaku

hang the net
and even the mosquitos are pretty
flying through the moonbeams.
Baishitsu