Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Buson and Chinese Poetry II; Housebling

1. Buson and Chinese Poetry II

Still thinking about Buson and Chinese poetry. I'm reading a book now called Kanshi to haiku by YOSHIKAWA Hatsuki, which is no help at all for the paper I'm trying to write. (Its unhelpfulness is not because of any deficiencies in the book itself--it's a fine book.) But here's a Buson verse and the Chinese poem to which it alludes, for what it's worth:

spring rains
beneath the bridges
at Shijô and Gojô

shunsui ya Shijô Gojô no hashi no shita

Shijô and Gojô are streets in Kyoto. Some pictures of Kyoto's Kamogawa river and its bridges today are here.

The poem is by early Tang poet LIU Tingzhi (651-679). For the full text of the poem and information about the poet go here. It's in Japanese, but there's some nice pictures.

Beneath the bridge, spring waters flow,
Across the bridge, splendid youths pass.
Horses' neighing carries beyond the blue clouds.
People's shadows shimmer within the green waves.
Polished by the waves, jewels become as sand,
Wrapped in blue clouds, brocade turns into mist.
Charming willows are trees that wound the heart.
Charming peach and pear trees have blossoms that touch your soul.

(It goes on another 20 or so lines but maybe I'd best end the butchery here. At least it gives you an idea of how different Chinese poetry is from haiku. Corrections from anybody out there who is better informed about Tang poetry are welcome. )

Visit 300 Tang Poems for some great Tang poems: Chinese + nice English translations.

2. House Bling

This blog links you to pictures of houses in the UK that have been garishly decorated for the winter holidays.

The spirit of haiku is to rejoice in the changes of the seasons, including annual celebrations. While English speakers commonly associate haiku with restraint and Zen-like austerity, plenty of haiku was tasteless, too, back in the day. So I can't help but think that housebling is no less haiku than highly sensitive evocations of snow and shigure (intermittent rains).

The nights are even longer now. The bling reminds us.