Mercury Day poetry: A few gems from Basho

One minor change in the daily routine since returning from India is trying to limit the garbage that goes in my brain (knowing that it means there will just be garbage coming out). So rather than go anywhere near a computer as I drink my pre-practice coffee, I’m just sitting quietly. Maybe meditating. Well, maybe trying to get to the point that I’m getting close to meditating.

We’ll see when that comes.

But it has reminded me of the generosity of stillness. I don’t get a lot of that normally. And it also reminded me that I used to enjoy a version of that stillness in simple haikus. So here are a few by Basho. These are all as translated by former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, who is well worth looking up when you have a chance.

A monk sips morning tea,
it’s quiet,
the chrysanthemum’s flowering.

Autumn moonlight–
a worm digs silently
into the chestnut.

Awake at night–
the sound of the water jar
cracking in the cold.

old pond…..
a frog leaps in
water’s sound

And maybe the best:

A caterpillar,
this deep in fall–
still not a butterfly.

Posted by Steve

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Mercury day poetry: Haiku by Issa

I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a yoga teacher read any haiku after a class, which as I think on it, is kind of surprising.

The simplicity, the union (yoga) of the images, the frequent focus on the natural world and the inner one all seem appropriate to those quiet moments in Shavasana.

Well, here’s a little in the way of changing that.

These are a set of haiku by Issa, as chosen and translated by former U.S. Poet Laurete Robert Hass:

    Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house
    casually.
***
    New Year’s Day—
everything is in blossom!
    I feel about average.
***
    The snow is melting
and the village is flooded
    with children.
***
    Goes out,
comes back—
    the love life of a cat.
***
    Mosquito at my ear—
does he think
    I’m deaf?
***
    Under the evening moon
the snail
    is stripped to the waist.
***
    Even with insects—
some can sing,
   some can’t.
***
    All the time I pray to Buddha
I keep on
   killing mosquitoes.
***
    Napped half the day;
no one
    punished me!
***
Posted by Steve