The Narrow Road (5) – Haiku and Tanka – December 8, 2015

an artist’s touch
these bright rainbow laces
for her sneakers

 

pregnant
with sadness and horror
abandoned bunkers

silent echoes
the battles waged by men
now long gone
where now the bright ideals
of right and might and country

rows and rows
tombstones in white marble
where no one comes
Florence, Anzio, Cassino
allied war cemeteries

© G.s.k. ‘15

Carpe Diem #875 the journey continues: iris leaves; summer grass

Today’s episode on “The Narrow Road” had many facets and was very long (it would be well worth your while to click on the link above and visit the post)  but below are just a few extracts that stimulated memories from my world – the first haiku is about a young artist I once knew … she embroidered her sneakers and laced them in bright colours — the second extracts inspired the above set of haiku and tanka as they caused me to remember the blood bathes of the first and second World Wars ( estimated deaths by Encyclopaedia Britannica gives the following:

WW One: 8,529,000

WW Two (military) 19,402,000
WW Two (civilian) 17,391,000)

  … though in Europe eons passed when there was nothing but wars and skirmishes – for Lord, God or simply plunder – I think that it is a sort of miracle that Western Europe has known peace for nearly 70 years :

When the time came for us to say good-bye, this painter gave me his own drawings of Matsushima and Shiogama and two pairs of straw sandals with laces dyed in the deep blue of the iris. In this last appears most clearly perhaps the true artistic nature of this man.

Iris leaves
I tie them to my feet
as sandal cords

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Stopping briefly at the River Noda no Tamagawa and the so-called Rock in the Offing, I came to the pine woods called Sue no Matsuyama, where I found a temple called Masshozan and a great number of tombstones scattered among the trees. It was a depressing sight indeed, for young or old, loved or loving, we must all go to such a place at the end of our lives. ….

I left for Hiraizumi on the twelfth and arrived at there after wandering some twenty miles in two days.

It was here that the glory of three generations of the Fujiwara family passed away like a snatch of empty dream. The ruins of the main gate greeted my eyes a mile before I came upon Lord Hidehira’s mansion, which had been utterly reduced to rice-paddies. Mount Kinkei alone retained its original shape. As I climbed one of the foothills called Takadate, where Lord Yoshitsune met his death, I saw the River Kitakami running through the plains of Nambu in its full force, and its tributary, Koromogawa, winding along the site of the Izumigashiro castle and pouring into the big river directly below my eyes. The ruined house of Lord Yasuhira was located to the north of the barrier-gate of Koromogaseki, thus blocking the entrance from the Nambu area and forming a protection against barbarous intruders from the north. Indeed, many a feat of chivalrous valor was repeated here during the short span of the three generations, but both the actors and the deeds have long been dead and passed into oblivion. When a country is defeated, there remain only mountains and rivers, and on a ruined castle in spring only grasses thrive. I sat down on my hat and wept bitterly till I almost forgot time.

summer grass
the only remains of soldiers’
dreams

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

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30 thoughts on “The Narrow Road (5) – Haiku and Tanka – December 8, 2015

  1. A series poems in honor of those who fought for God and country … very strong. And your “renga” with Rheumatologe sounds already great. Thank you for sharing this beauty with us all at CDHK.

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