Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chitra Pournami : Haiku of Issa


Summer night -

even the stars

are whispering to each other


I wish she were here

to listen to my grouses

and enjoy this moon


My grumbling wife,

if only she were here -

This moon tonight


The moon and the flowers,

years passing by,

walking around, wasting time


Bright moon,

welcome to my hut -

such as it is


Great moon

woven in plum scent,

all mine


The world of dew -

A world of dew it is indeed,

And yet, and yet ..


~ Issa


Nobuyuki Kobayashi Issa (1763 - 1828) is the last of the three greatest masters of Haiku, the other two being Matsuo Basho (1644 - 1694) and Yosa Buson (1716 - 1783). The personal life of Issa was interspersed with more tragedies than anyone could possibly endure. The Shinshu sect of Buddhism was more liberal during the time of Issa than that of his predecessor Basho. The beauty of Issa, when compared to his legendary predecessors is that, he started using local dialects and the language of daily conversation, which is a turning point in the history of Japanese literature. Issa had a natural warmth for humanity and was innately compassionate towards every living being. Issa is the pen name which means a cup of tea..


The solitude of night

Full moon shining -

Issa talks to me



  1. The solitude of night,
    Full moon shining -
    Issa talks to me.

    Good attempt that,
    Another rising Sun-
    In line of Issa.

    The beauty of moon,
    With blue spread all over-
    Solace to the solitary tree.

    Chaita Poornima,
    Symbolising unfulfilled love-
    trying to attain fullness.

    Don't take umbrage
    It's a free world
    And a free spirit.

  2. Haiku is associated with Zen.
    But they say there are non-Zen Haiku as well.
    Am not clear about it.

    The Haiku of Issa which u've selected(including u'r beautiful homage to him) are meditative.

    Silence between the words is more important than words themselves.
    That'z da enigma of Haiku.

  3. Can chris or pankaj or sathyu decipher the meaning ofthis Hailku with or without meditation:
    leaves fall,
    leaves lie on leaves,
    rain beats the rain.
    what is the sound of 1 hand clapping?

  4. Haiku apart I have not understood what do you mean by 'with or without meditation'. Still I would make a vague attempt.

    As regards the sound of one hand clapping, I would draw from the scriptures, as I have, whatsoever, no intuitive knowledge. Upnishads say - OM iti etad, aksharam idam sarvam, bhutam bhavat bhavishayat iti, tadapi Omkar eva. So OM is the primal sound. All pervasive. All three divisions of time are contained in it. And it is Advait. That is one. I.e. it does not require help of the second to bring something into existence. In Bible also it is said that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God".The Bible does not name it as OM but it is obvious. So I would suggest that the sound of one hand clap would be OM.

    As regards- leaves fall, leaves lie on leaves,
    rain beats the rain - I would not like to hazard a guess. This appears too complicated. I would leave it to Sathya/Chris.

  5. I just came upon this blog I think the haiku beginning leaves fall is trying to portray a windy rainy day when leaves fall on leaves as the wind seems to blow the rain in different directions and the rain drops seem to beat on the rain drops

  6. Pleasure and amazement one is getting from haiku or any other poem is purely based on our personal encounters with animate or inanimate objects..i dont agree with our anonymous friend asking the meaning of haiku..
    Its purely subjective... OR ELSE we will ask sathya to conduct an workshop on how to derive a meaning for an haiku...hope connoisseur of INDIAN cinema MR CHRIS agree with me..

  7. Yes,it may be a matter of subjective perception.One can look at pictures of marie hider like the vase and wonder whether it is a vase or two faces.But at the same time, the ultimate truth is one and haiku or zen sayings are meant to give that sartori, a deep insight into the truth in a flash.The flash of truth may dawn at the time of meditation or as an insight at any other time also, say, walking when consciously the issue has been dropped but the unconscious is still delving on the issue.But I would reallly like to know the experience of others with whatever subjective element there may be(subjectivity in my opinion would only be of expression not of meaning and that variance is the color of life).

  8. Pankaj has given yet another interesting interpretation : da sound of one hand clapping is 'OM'.
    It can be 'Aum' or 'Ohm Mani Pame Hum' or 'Amen' or 'Amin'!
    Da sound can be anything depending upon one's proclivities.
    But i feel da complexitiy of dat Zen question lies in da hidden 'how' part than da explicit 'what' part of one hand clapping.