Masaoka Shiki ~ Selected Haiku

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Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) was a Meiji era writer and poet. During his early life, the old forms of poetry, such as Haiku and Haikai, were waning due to incongruity with the Meiji period and there were no great living masters to help keep the traditions alive. It was Shiki, through his writings and enthusiasm, who was responsible for rekindling the public’s interest.

In the coolness
of the empty sixth-month sky…
the cuckoo’s cry.

the tree cut,
dawn breaks early
at my little window

scatter layer
by layer, eight-layered
cherry blossoms!

at the full moon’s
rising, the silver-plumed
reeds tremble

entangled with
the scattering cherry blossoms—
the wings of birds!

wheat sowing—
the mulberry trees
lift bunched branches

in the coolness
gods and Buddhas
dwell as neighbors

I turn my back
on Buddha and face
the cool moon

fanning out its tail
in the spring breeze,
see—a peacock!

 

rice reaping—
no smoke rising from
the cremation ground today
old garden—she empties
a hot-water bottle
under the moon
spring rain:
browsing under an umbrella
at the picture-book store
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