A Hundred Gourds 3:2 March 2014

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Withering Winds

Journeying so far in the rain, my hat has split apart at the seams. Nightly my paper coat does battle with the elements.

Having grown familiar with poverty, I try a little self-pity. But there was once an eccentric fellow - a crazy waka Master - who travelled these parts stirring up the countryside. And it occurs to me to simply take my turn:


crazy verse,
caught in the withering winds
alas how I must look
like Chikusai —


who's that - a spray
of sasanqua on his hat?

Yasui たそやとばしるかさの山茶花

at dawn
the Water Keeper
opening up the liquor store  

Kakei 有明の主水に酒屋つくらせて

a red pack-horse tosses dew from her mane

Jugo か しらの露をふるふあかむま

Korean grass
it's slender blades
stripped of any scent

Tokoku 朝鮮の細りすすきのにほひなき

as daylight dwindles
fields of rice are mown

Shohei 日のちりちりに野に米を苅

this little retreat,
here may the heron
find a place to rest

Yasui わがいほは鷺にやどかすあたりに

willing the hair to re-grow
such is my lot

Basho 髮はやすまをしのぶ身のほど

all the illusion
and heartache she says
squeezing dry her breasts

Jugo いつはりのつらしと乳をしぼりすて

desolate tears
shed at a timeless stupa

Kakei きえぬそとばにすごすごとなく

in the cold of dawn
a shadowed figure
starts to build a fire

Basho 影法のあかつきさむく火を燒て

sheer penury
has made the owner homeless

Tokoku あるじはひんにたえし虚家

the koman willow
in the paddy field
soon to drop its leaves

Kakei 田中なるこまんが柳落るころ

tugging a boat through the mist
is he lame?

Yasui 霧にふね引人はちんばか

with a sideways glance
to weigh the dainty moon

Tokoku たそがれを横にながむる月ほそし

retired from court,
now for noisy neighbours

Jugo となりさかしき町に下り居る

number two nun
asked if the blossom
at the guards has peaked

Yasui 二の尼に近衛の花のさかりきく

butterflies in weeds
she blows through her nose

Basho 蝶はむぐらにとばかり鼻かむ

a conveyance,
the gap in its screen
allows the glimpse of a face

Jugo のり物に簾透顔おぼろなる

now - a voice -
fire that bitter arrow!

Kakei いまぞ恨の矢をはなつ声

the outlaw’s
commemorative pine
broken by the wind

Basho ぬす人の記念の松の吹おれて

for a time Sogi’s name
went with a river

Tokoku しばし宗祇の名を付し水

removing my hat
to get a good soak,
cold northern drizzle

Kakei 笠ぬぎて無理にもぬるゝ北時雨

a single endive
pushing through the dieback

Yasui 冬がれわけてひとり唐苣

shattered shards
of white on white, are these
remains not human?

Tokoku しらじらと砕けしは人の骨か何

cuttlefish bones,
a northman's divination

Jugo 烏賊はゑびすの国のうらかた

the riddle of this
sadness unresolved,
mountain cuckoo

Yasui あはれさの謎にもとけし郭公

an urn of limpid water
in one night!

Basho 秋水一斗もりつくす夜ぞ

Japan's Li Po,
his temple quarters,
gazing at the moon

Jugo 日東の李白が坊に月を見て

tucked in the lutist's hood
a rose of sharon

Kakei 巾に木槿をはさむ琵琶打

for a long dead ox,
grass by evening light

Basho うしの跡とぶらふ草の夕ぐれに

a small basket of shad
borne on her head

Tokoku 箕に鮗の魚をいたゞき

my prayers
to the morning star
that I might be with child

Kakei わがいのりあけがたの星孕むべく

little sister's eyebrows
officially today!

Yasui けふはいもとのまゆかきにゆき

silken gauze,
the bathing water
strained of Shiga blossom

Tokoku 綾ひとへ居湯に志賀の花漉て

a walkway trailed
in deep wisteria shade

Jugo 廊下は藤のかげつたふ也

Translation by John E. Carley, with his daughter Edith Carley

    November, 2013 Rossendale, Lancashire, England

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