Haiga and Haiku. Part 9.

The images and text are from Haiku, Volume 1, Eastern Culture by R. H. Blyth, published by Hokuseido in Japan. No year of copyright.

~ ~ ~

The verse by Tanehiko, 1782-1842 . . .

photo-aug-15-8-54-31-am.jpg

is rather obscure, being based on an anecdote:

The cherry blossoms,
Returning at dawn from the Yoshiwara;
Was it the goddess of Mt. Katsuragi?

In the picture we feel the early spring morning; the willow tree gives the feeling of wantonness and enervation; the towel round the head of the man going home suggests the slight chill in the air; and the lantern the vagueness of the period between night and day. There is a balance between the four objects; the poem is one of them, and floats like an exhalation in the morning air.

For the treatment of pine-trees in haiga we may take the following two illustrations:

photo-aug-15-8-53-32-am.jpg

In Ryoto’s picture, the tree is simplified to its farthest limits; it is to be noted how the ten [the separate cross-like figure] of the poem joins the picture and the verse, which is:

The pine-tree,
Ten fingers in a row:
How green it is!

Gijoen’s pine-tree is also original in vision and expression. The verse runs:

Can’t it get away
From the pine-tree resin?
The voice of the cicada!

This means that there is something frantic in the sound of the crying of the cicada, as though it were stuck on the gum of the pine-tree, and could not extricate itself.

This haiga is by Chora, 1729-1781.

photo-aug-15-8-43-16-am-e1538308266759.jpg

The verse, also by him, is:

Today, the Aoi Festival:
We greet again the many-jointed bamboos,
Generation after generation.

There is here a very complicated play on words, yoyo meaning “successive generations”, and the part of the bamboo between the joints. Aoi means “meeting day” and “Hollyhock”, the name of the festival held at the Kamo Shrine in Kyoto on the 15th of May. The picture, however, is very simple and child-like, characteristic of many of Chora’s other [pictures].

Haiga and Haiku. Part 8.

The images and text are from Haiku, Volume 1, Eastern Culture by R. H. Blyth, published by Hokuseido in Japan. No year of copyright.

~ ~ ~

The haiku and picture by Ryota, 1707-87, is an example in which the connection between the two is rather distant.

Photo Aug 15, 8 52 42 AM

The verse is:

Looking at the light,
There is a wind,
This night of snow.

The wind is seen, not felt, and the mind trembles with the flame in the darkness surrounding it. The snow is falling, silent and invisible. This is the verse, but the picture is of the basket of charcoal, that is half out of the picture. It is black, but shines in the light of the lamp that is to be seen in the verse only.

Another haiga, which has something rather Korean about it, portrays a boat by the shore at night.

Photo Aug 15, 8 48 21 AM

The verse is by Seira, died 1791:

Even the sound
Of the wings, is heard, —
A cold, moon-lit night.

The wild geese are seen, but not the moon, that shines down on the roof of the boat and on the reeds of the bank. The verse is one of sound, the picture of sight; it is the sound of birds, the sight of the reedy shore and moored sampan. It would have been better still, perhaps, to have omitted the wild geese from the picture.

Issa’s picture of the morning-glory . . .

photo-aug-15-8-56-27-am-e1538997178820.jpg

has this verse:

My hermitage
Is thatched
With morning-glories

When he went out in the early morning he found that the whole roof was covered with the flowers of the convolvulus; his house was “roofed” with them. The verse is rather simple, but the sketch, by being even more so, is in perfect harmony with it. There is only one flower, which is used instead of the word asagao, and a short piece of vine, but everything is there. All the flowers sway in the morning breeze, and Issa also is there, though his back is turned to us, gazing at them.

In Issa’s verse and illustration . . .

photo-aug-15-8-57-20-am.jpg

we see another side of his character, an invariable one perhaps, in persons of strongly critical, cynical nature. The verse is:

Opening its mouth
Uselessly still,
The step-child of the bird.

Under the bird, it says: Both the Swallow and Issa.

We see here the self-pity into which tender-minded people easily fall. (Herein lies the necessity for such haiku poets as Kikaku, and for senryu.). Issa was a step-son, and suffered deeply because of his sensitive and love-desiring nature. He compares himself to a baby swallow. The sketch of the swallow is rather poor, but its angularity suggests, perhaps, the unkindness of the foster-mother.

Haiga and Haiku. Part 7.

The images and text are from Haiku, Volume 1, Eastern Culture by R. H. Blyth, published by Hokuseido in Japan. No year of copyright.

~ ~ ~

(Below), a picture of Basho saying good-bye to his disciple Sora, is by Buson.

photo-aug-15-8-55-40-am-e1538309057137.jpg

It is quite imaginary, in that Buson never met Basho, but better so, since Buson is free to show us how he wished to see him. It is no romantic figure. Basho is plain of countenance, simple in dress, an amiable, frail-looking creature, nothing about him to show him to be what he was, the greatest man Japan has produced. The picture illustrates Buson’s transcription of Oku no Hosomichi [The Narrow Road to the Deep North], a short diary of travel, which breathes through it and in this illustration, Basho’s warm, unaffected simplicity.

The picture by Senna, 1650-1723:

photo-aug-15-8-54-53-am.jpg

The Slope of Osaka, east of Kyoto, has grasped the spirit of the place, its mountains and cherry blossoms and pine trees. It has also something peculiarly Japanese, something that is almost unique in haiga, a quality that we see, but can never reproduce, in children’s pictures. The verse is:

At the time when
The Slope of Osaka hardens,
The first cherry blossoms.

In Korin, 1661-1716, contemporary of Basho, we see the opposite tendency, a delight in painting for its own sake; he corresponds to Swinburne in English literature. So the picture of azaleas (below) has a superficial resemblance to haiga, but is utterly different in spirit and technique. The azaleas are only the excuse for a brilliant exhibition of significant form, but, form of what?

photo-aug-15-8-49-24-am.jpg

Haiga and Haiku. Part 5.

The images and text are from Haiku, Volume 1, Eastern Culture by R. H. Blyth, published by Hokuseido in Japan. No year of copyright.

~ ~ ~

The sketch by Sesshu, 1450-1506 (below) was evidently a study for a larger, more ambitious work; this is shown by the absence of the seals.

photo-aug-15-8-49-41-am.jpg

It is too brilliant, to good for haiga, it lacks something, the warmth and human sentiment that infuse the more clumsy and less slick pictures by those who are concerned with the things represented rather than with the representation. The sketch shows, however, a simplification and grasp of essentials which are the aim of haiku.

Miyamoto Musashi, 1582-1645, who died one year after the birth of Basho, continues the unconscious development towards haiga. His Shrike Screeching on a Dead Branch (below) has the quietness of eye, and the penetration into the nature of bird and bough, but it still aims at a perfection which for haiga and haiku is limited and finite. The great problem here is how to combine art with nature, nature that is always incomplete never finished. It is the same paradox everywhere, to “reject people” yet value above all things “the human warmth”; to love and hate; to hold and to renounce; to be oneself alone and be all things; to paint form and yet be conscious only of the spirit of the thing.

Photo Aug 15, 8 54 05 AM

Haiga and Haiku. Part 4.

The images and text are from Haiku, Volume 1, Eastern Culture by R. H. Blyth, published by Hokuseido in Japan. No year of copyright.

The following text is from the book. Any bold passages are intended for emphasis and are not part of the original text.

Haiku and haiga avoid the grim, the violent, the dramatic and intense. They aspire to be deep without depth. Tohaku portrays (below)

photo-aug-15-8-46-30-am-e1535631503444.jpg

the old tree, pine-needles, bamboo leaves and monkey in the same spirit as Basho’s verse written about a hundred years later:  Continue reading

Haiga and Haiku. Part 3.

The images and text are from Haiku, Volume 1, Eastern Culture by R. H. Blyth, published by Hokuseido in Japan. No year of copyright.

The following text is from the book. Bold passages are intended for emphasis and are not part of the original text.

The interesting thing about Sengai’s picture of Tokusan and Ryuytan (below)

photo-aug-15-8-52-09-am.jpg

is the lack of beauty in the faces of the two people, and in the picture as a whole. Even if they had actually been a handsome couple, it would have been necessary to show them thus, because the picture is insisting on their deadly earnestness, on their souls, not on their appearance.  Continue reading

Haiga and Haiku. Part 2.

The images and text are from Haiku, Volume 1, Eastern Culture by R. H. Blyth, published by Hokuseido in Japan. No year of copyright.

The following text is from the book. Bold passages are intended for emphasis and are not part of the original text.

The picture of Eno’s enlightenment (seen below)

photo-aug-15-8-53-01-am-e1534680919849.jpg

is a very strange one, in that it lacks the violence and grimness of Zenga, Zen paintings. Continue reading

Haiga and Haiku. Part 1.

The images and text are from Haiku, Volume 1, Eastern Culture by R. H. Blyth, published by Hokuseido in Japan. No year of copyright.

All text within quotation marks are from the book. Bold passages are intended for emphasis and are not part of the original text.

The cover of the book:

photo-aug-15-8-43-39-am-e1534337539796.jpg

“Haiga are small sketches, either in indian-ink, black-and-white or in simple colours, that endeavour to express in pictures what haiku do in words. . . .

Continue reading

A realization of nonduality

If, in any painting or photograph, a person is depicted as very small within a wide space of nature, there is a possibility that the viewer will recognize that small form as one’s self and that this self is not separate from the vast space. That is to say, such a picture may inspire the realization that one is the vast space itself. When it is recognized that the vast space contains the form and that one is both the vast space and the form — at the same time — this is a realization of nonduality.

1731-2

 

 

too alone to feel alone

1685-2

I feel that in the company of something true, a sadness could arise for all the time and energy spent — not only by one’s self, but by the multitudes — pursuing something false. Yet because it arises in the company of truth, it is sweetened by compassion, the seeing of which evokes another level of tears, and other qualities of sadness as well. In Zen, the term loneliness is used more often than sadness; they seem equivalent to some degree. You can look up sadness and Zen or loneliness and Zen and find different kinds of writings. Some of the writings refer to personal psychological sadness. However, I’m talking sadness that involves existence. I have not considered all the possible shades of sadness, so please offer your own in a comment.

Festival of the Rushes

1397rushes-5.jpg

the drawing contest
comes to a close
i’m tired of it
although my fame has spread across the land
i know myself as a pebble
whose curve will never be followed
by the artist’s hand
saying goodbye
i climb into my boat
and row through a clump of rushes
to my small house
on the other side of the lake

[This poem carries the influences of the Chinese poet Tu Fu and the Japanese poet Basho, blended, one reflecting the other like green leaves reflecting darkly in still water.]

the stalking cobra

2192

I was looking at a world map. The “free” countries were coloured green. The “partly free” countries orange. And the “not free” countries red.

Mapping my brain I see a pattern as splotchy and colourful as the map. I am both the good guys and the bad guys.

All the while death – I myself – awaits like a stalking cobra.