“On the departure of Rotsu for Michinoku (the Northern part of Honshu)”.
kusa makara makoto no hanami shite mo koyo
a grass pillow
is the best to use when coming
to view cherry blossoms
© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)
Today’s Carpe Diem Haiku Kai episode is all about Basho’s rather irresponsible disciple, Rotsu. It seems this man broke a valuable tea container while being a hosted in someone’s home and instead of owning up to his error, he tried to blame another of Basho’s disciples! Basho was very angry at the time and took quite a while in order to forgive Rotsu, but finally did, leaving a note in his will saying so before he died.
There seems to be a saying similar perhaps in Japanese and Dutch: ‘who burns his buttocks has to sit on his blisters’ (which in this case would make a grass pillow a heaven send) and means you have to live with your mistakes. In English we also have a saying – “As you make your bed you must also lay in it!” but there’s another proverb that is often used, “Life isn’t a bed of roses” meaning that not everything goes as we wish which brings to mind the following haibun …
When I was a young woman, I decided to get married. My mother wasn’t happy with the idea and in order to bring home her discontent she used the proverb “you make your own bed” to bring her point home that I had to face the consequences of my choice as well as “life isn’t a bed of roses” to emphasize even more the difficulty that I was bringing on myself.
I always remembered what she’d said. Of course, she was right and I might have avoided much grief if I’d listened to her, but then, I wouldn’t have travelled as extensively as I did nor be sitting here writing haiku in Italy! When the marriage broke up years later, I remembered what she’d said and didn’t run back home but stuck it out here in Italy and eventually married my present husband.
a bed of roses
blossoms perfume the sweet spring
though the thorns grow sharp
© G.s.k. 15