Sunday, October 26, 2008


An excellent book on haiku is The Essential Haiku, edited by Robert Hass.

In this book are thoughts on haiku attributed to Basho. Reading these thoughts helps me to understand why I am coming to love haiku more and more.

1. Basho says, "the basis of art is change in the universe." A haiku is a snapshot in time.

2. Basho says, "Make the universe your companion, always bearing in mind the true nature of things." The search for the true nature of things seems to me the only pleasurable way to live.

3. Basho says, "One should know that a haiku is made by combining things." I take this to mean that the poet combines something experienced through the senses with the emotion and experience of the poet. This is the aspect of art that intrigues me most.

4. Basho says, "One must first of all concentrate one's thoughts on the object. Once one's mind achieves a state of concentration and the space between oneself and the object has disappeared, the essential nature of the object can be perceived." I have never seen a better explanation of the artist becoming part of the world in order to describe the world.

5. Basho says, "Then express it immediately. If one ponders it, it will vanish from the mind." This is what I keep telling my students. The intellect kills art.

6. Basho says that being an artist is not really a pleasurable activity. He says of poetry that it is "a fireplace in summer or a fan in winter." To really follow your art, you will have to make sacrifices in terms of comfort.

He says, "Since ancient times, those with a feeling for poetry did not mind carrying knapsacks on their backs or putting straw sandals on their feet or wearing simple hats that barely protected them from the elements. They took delight in disciplining their minds through hardship and thereby attaining a knowledge of the true nature of things."

He says, "One needs to work to achieve enlightenment and then return to the common world."

7. Basho says, "The bones of haiku are plainness and oddness." This is what I strive for in my own work--oddness, not something that is elegant or even pretty.

8. Basho says, "Haiku exists only while it's on the writing desk. Once it's taken off, it should be regarded as a mere scrap of paper." I would say that this means that the true value in the haiku is the moment when you are writing it. After that, you should be looking for the next haiku moment, not looking at your work and stroking your ego!

No comments:



About Me

My photo
Northwest Ohio, United States
"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken


Search This Blog

Epistle, by Archibald MacLeish

What I'm Listening To

My Music

Great Artists
This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from theresarrt7. Make your own badge here.

Fave Painting: Eden

Fave Painting:  Eden

Fave Painting: The Three Ages of Man and Death

Fave Painting:  The Three Ages of Man and Death
by Albrecht Dürer

From the First Chapter

The Secret of Hurricanes : That article in the Waterville Scout said it was Shake- spearean, all that fatalism that guides the Kennedys' lives. The likelihood of untimely death. Recently, another one died in his prime, John-John in an airplane. Not long before that, Bobby's boy. While playing football at high speeds on snow skis. Those Kennedys take some crazy chances. I prefer my own easy ways. Which isn't to say my life hasn't been Shake-spearean. By the time I was sixteen, my life was like the darkened stage at the end of Hamlet or Macbeth. All littered with corpses and treachery.

My Original Artwork: Triptych

My Original Artwork:  Triptych



Little Deer

Little Deer



Looking Forward, Looking Back

Looking Forward, Looking Back

Blog Archive