Carpe Diem – looking at Basho’s karumi – “under the trees” – May 27, 2015

Pencil Oil Sketch

Pencil Oil Sketch

clouds and cold wind
near Murano’s main canal
hot cappuccino

along the docks
gondolas and motorboats
ancient and modern

© G.s.k. ‘15


Today’s episode on Carpe Diem Haiku Kai is dedicated to the haiku style invented and promoted by Basho known as karumi.  He began using this style in his later life, trying to reach a certain lightness which the word karumi alludes to.  He travelled far and wide to promote this style and lost some of his followers who didn’t feel comfortable writing in the style:

“One of Basho’s major objectives was to find new and apt associations that made the reader rethink reality and the connectedness within. Association is very important in Basho’s work, he used it very often.

….it seems Basho was trying to write poetry that was less emotional. Basho seems to have believed that it is the verb that carries the emotional baggage of a poem. The poems he considered to exemplify the concept of karumi best are the ones with few or no verbs.
In our times this technique of writing haiku without a verb produces what is pejoratively called “grocery list”-haiku.”


The following are examples of karumi used by Basho:

ki no moto ni shiru mo namasu mo sakura kana

under the trees
soup and pickles
cherry blossoms

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

wakaba shite om me no shizuku nuguwa baya

young leaves
I would like to wipe away
tears in your eyes

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

was it a bush warbler
poop on the rice cake
on the veranda’s edge

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

glass noodles
few slices of fish
plum blossoms

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

a bush is the little garden
of a detached room

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

And here is an example of the style illustrated by Chèvrefeuille’s inspired haiku:

slowly a snail seeks
his path between Cherry blossoms
reaches for the sky

© Chèvrefeuille

14 thoughts on “Carpe Diem – looking at Basho’s karumi – “under the trees” – May 27, 2015

  1. Your haiku transport me to Europe. Oh how I would love an Italian cappuccino right now. Your photo processing is very effective too.


  2. Ah but you are toying with me! The Venetian haiku theme is one that fits like no other. I have read 5 ‘Venetian haiku’ from you now that I remember distinctly, and truly I can say each one was an experience. By that I mean I truly savoured each one. I think it i a gorgeous, unique theme that really works together. The first haiku is stunning. I mean it is just so good, and the second enjoyable. Really I think you have created a unique concept here.


    • Oh my dear Hamish … I didn’t at all want to toy with you!

      This Venetian theme keeps coming back as I look back and remember my recent trip to the Venetian islands … I didn’t actually make it to Venice itself unfortunately. I’m so happy you are enjoying this series and probably there will be more as I process my photos. I’m not aware of creating a concept … really!

      I’m trying to gather in a bit of wool … I’ve written so much in the past couple of years but it’s all in a state of chaos! You might not believe this but i think my readers know more about my work at this point than I do. Very often I just don’t reread what I’ve written once it’s published!

      I think perhaps I can finally produce a couple of haiku books … do you think a haiku book with a Venetian theme could be interesting?


in shadows light - walking under weeping pines - spring rain

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.