Saturday, March 21, 2015

Carpe Diem Special #138: Santoka Taneda’s “Soaking Wet”



Hello once again, Haijin.  This is Paloma from Blog It or Lose It, helping Chèvrefeuille for the weekend.  It’s been an honor – and quite an experience!  Thank you, once again, Chèvrefeuille for making Carpe Diem such a joy!


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For today we return to the haiku of Santoka Taneda.  As Chèvrefeuille shared in this month’sprompt list page, the poet spent much of his life wandering as a mendicant priest.  And while he made many observations on the natural world – the loneliness and isolation of his wandering is a constant theme in his work.  Consider this haiku, for example:

shigurete sono ji ga yomenai michishirube

soaking wet
I can’t read the letters
on the signpost


I love that this haiku is ambiguous – “soaking wet” refers to what?  the poet? the signpost? both?  Do you hear the hissing of the rain in how he’s repeating sh / s / ch sounds?   And – what wonderful layers of meaning in the haiku!

Here is another example from Santoka Taneda’s Grass and Tree Cairn:

In April 1926, burdened with unsolvable illusions, I set out on a journey of alms-begging and drifting.

     Wakeitte mo wakeitte mo aoi yama
     I go in      I go in      still the blue mountains

     Shitodo ni nurete kore wa michishirube no ishi
     Soaking wet      this a road-marker stone

     Enten o itadaite koi aruku
     Burning heaven on my head      I beg      I walk

                 © SantokaTaneda

Did you notice that his line length is very irregular – and that he loves repetition?  


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Here is another example:

kyō mo nurete shiranai michi o yuku
Today again     soaking wet     I walk on an unknown road.    
(Tr. by John Stevens)

And – here is an unusual haiku from the journey – which I will leave without comment:

nombiri shito suru kusa no me darake
Nonchalantly urinating    By the road     Soaking the young weeds
(Tr. by John Stevens)

Here is my haiga – attempting to stay in the spirit of Santoka Taneda:



     If you are interested in reading more of Santoka Taneda’s work, visit these sites:

     Santoka: Grass and Tree Cairn (Haiku Foundation)
     Fire on the Mountain (Internet Archive: Wayback Machine)
     The Poetry of Santoka Taneda (Greenleaf)
     Taneda (Terebess Asia Online)

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This prompt will be open for entries from March 21st at 7 PM through March 25th at noon (CET). 


8 comments:

  1. Superb post Jen, I'm off to give it another read. It bought out the amateur philosopher in me, very well done, and thanks for taking us through the weekend!

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    1. Very glad it inspired you, Hamish :) There's so much going on in his haiku -- really, someone to investigate further. I'm so glad Chevrefeuille introduced him to us!

      And thanks so much for the encouragement :)

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  2. Yes, I like that haiku very much - has that depth, with that great break in rhythm, and one can see the inspiration.

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    1. Oh, good --- phew! Felt like I was taking a bit of a risk with this one. :)

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  3. Paloma, my Webroot program directed me away from your site- so sorry.

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    1. That's weird .... I'll have to check into it.

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  4. I love your haiga, Paloma! reminds me of Quebec drivers here...we barely slow down at yields and we yield at stops:) Outside Quebec, Canadians call it a Quebec stop, here we call it an American stop.;)

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    1. That's funny! ;)
      Glad you liked the haiga :)

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