Basho: The rock azalea dyed with cuckoo tears

My Translation The rock azalea— Dyed red With cuckoo tears Original Japanese 岩躑躅染むる涙やほととぎ朱 Japanese Pronunciation Google Translator Iwa tsutsuji Somuru namida ya Hototogishu Literal Rock azalea Dye tears Cuckoo vermillion red Note: “Hototogishu” is a pun for “hototogisu,” meaning cuckoo. However, with the kanji of朱, …

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Monk Henjo’s “Heavenly wind” – from Hyakunin Isshu

It is said that Monk Henjo wrote this tanka after seeing young ladies dance at a festival. In the poem, he’s referring to Buddhist mythological maidens living in the sky. My Translation By Monk Henjo Heavenly wind Of the cloud’s commute, Stop your blowing, please— …

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Basho’s moonflower

My Translation The moonflower Fascinates my soul Floating light Original Japanese 夕顔に見とるるや身もうかりひょん Pronunciation Google Translator Yuugao ni Mitoruru ya mi mo Ukari-hyon Literal World-by-Word A moonflower at Fascinated with and body also Merry floating Note: This haiku uses many puns, giving it deeper meaning. “Ukari” …

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Ono no Takamura’s “Tell the people of the heaven-tempting boat!”

Ono no Takamura (802-852 AD) was a noted poet and state councilor exiled for a year to an island for feigning illness to avoid a mission to China. He wrote this upon his exile. My Translation Ono no Takamura Rowing out Through sea plains And …

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Basho’s “It’s a fleeting world”

My Translation It’s a fleeting world, As Sogi said— Like shelter in the rain Original Japanese 世にふるも更に宗祇の宿りかな Japanese Pronunciation Google Translator Yo ni furu mo Sara ni Sogi no Yadori kana Literal World gets old and Moreover Sogi’s Shelter how! [rain shelter] Note: Sogi (1421-1502 …

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Basho’s poetic philosophy #2

My Translation Follow nature, return with it, and be united with it. Original Japanese 造花にしたがい、造花にかへれとなり Pronunciation Zoka ni shitagai, zoka ni kaere to nari Literal Nature to follow, nature to return it means Source: Toshiharu Oseko’s Basho’s Haiku, citing Hattori Doho’s “San-Zoshi.” Doho was a …

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Semimaru’s “Osaka’s rendezvous gate”

My Translation By Semimaru This is the place— Of comings and goings And partings of ways; Of knowing and not knowing too: Osaka’s rendezvous gate. Original Japanese 蝉丸 これやこの 行くも帰るも 別れては 知るも知らぬも 逢坂の関 Pronunciation Google Translator Semimaru Kore ya kono Yuku mo kaeru mo Wakarete …

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Basho – “The sound of the tower hit by waves”

My Translation The sound of the tower hit by waves Freezes through my bowels— This night of tears Original Japanese 櫓の声波を打つて腸氷る夜や涙 Pronunciation Google Translator Ro no koe nami wo utte Harawata koru Yo ya namida Literal Tower’s voice waves hit [“Tower” could be read as …

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