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May 2009  Issue IX:2

mountaintopfire
(part 1)

 

ku by Santōka                       haiga by Shodo                   translations by Scott Watson

 

 

 

 

風ふけばどこからともなく生きていててふてふ

wind blowing out of

nowhere


living on

a butterfly

 

  

 

 

 

風は何よりさみしいとおもふすすきの穂

nothing’s lonelier

than wind it seems

pampass grass ears

 

 

  

 

 

水音けふもひとり旅ゆく

water sounds today too on my way alone

 

 

 

 

 

風の中からかおかお鴉

from

within

this

wind

caw

caw

this

crow

 

 

 

 

 

水をへだててをとことおなごと話が尽きない

separated by water

the man-woman thing

talked on forever

 

 

 

 

 

牛の大きくよこたはり師走風ふく

ox largely sprawled out twelfth month wind

 

 

 

 

 

 

こんなにうまい水があふれている

water
this
delicious

is
over-
flowing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

われをしみじみ風がでてきて考へさせる

quite myself with this wind come to think

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

風がほどよく春めいた薮と薮

wind just right

spring-like

thicket and

thicket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

酔えば水音

being
drunk
sound
of
water

 

 

Taneda Shōichi was born December 3, 1882 in Yamaguchi prefecture. He acquired his pen name, Santōka (Moutaintopfire), in 1911 (he also at times used the pen name Denji-ko: Lord Mud-Snail). Though he began writing haiku in the yuuki teikei style (utilizing kigo, the 5-7-5 syllabic pattern, and old literary expressions), Santōka quickly came to reject those traditional approaches and became a prominent poet in the jiyûritsu (free form) movement, which pursued a freedom of poetical spirit. His life was full of many difficulties and setbacks: his mother's suicide when he was ten (his younger brother's when he was thirty-four), a nervous breakdown in his twenties, alcoholism, bankruptcy, divorce, the Great Kanto Earthquake (after which he was jailed for being a suspected Communist), and poverty. In 1924 he became a Zen monk, traveling and begging throughout Japan. At age fifty-three he attempted suicide but survived. In 1936, he again began walking, this time along the trail that Bashō (1644–1694) took and wrote about in The Narrow Road to the Interior.  He died on October 11, 1940 in Mastuyama, Ehime prefecture.

Shodo Iwagaki is a Zen Buddhist monk and artist living in Kuse, Okayama, Japan. For over 30 years he has been living and creating his artwork in Mairai-ji (Mairai Temple). Virtually every wall and ceiling inside the temple is covered with his woodblock prints, paintings, and carvings.

Scott Watson was born in 1954 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA) and grew up in a small town called Riverton across the Delaware in NJ. He has been a resident of Japan for 29 years. He lives with his wife Morie in Sendai. They have two children: Tatsuma and James. Scott is a poet who has published over ten collections of poetry; His translations from Japanese include Bashō's Narrow Road (under the title Bashō's Road's Edge), poems by Yorifumi Yaguchi, poems by Yamao Sansei, and, of course, Santōka. He edited for ten years the poetry magazine BONGOS OF THE LORD. He directs Bookgirl Press and is a tenured professor at a university in Sendai. 

 

 

 

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