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HAIKU SCHOOL (which is not a senryu poem) ESSAY



Perhaps you would be surprised by these translations (not by me) of famous old haikus in Japan:

Shiki: “Ten years of study, sickness, penury; One threadbare blanket brings it home to me.”

the courtesan Tama: “Please take me on your back, O paper kite, and from this Hell of Pleasure rise in flight.”

Etsujin: “I have concealed for one more year today From aged parents that my hair is grey.”

Below is a quote from a chapter called “The Traditional Background of Haiku” in the book, “A Chime of Windbells A Year of Japanese Haiku in English Verse” by Harold Stewart, Charles E. Tuttle Co: Publishers, Rutland Vermont and Tokyo Japan of which I own a 1969 First Edition (Library of Congress Catalog # 69-12084, Std # 8048 0092-8).

“By Tradition in its vertical sense is meant the divinely inspired or revealed myth and ritual, doctrine and method, which are handed down from the transcendent sphere above to the mundane below. Although initiated by a personage possessed of the avataric or the prophetic function, and embodied in the sacred scriptures which he transmits, Tradition from above to below is instantaneous and in the present, always here and now. On the other hand tradition in the horizontal and historical sense comprises the whole social ethos of customs and institutions, manners and morals, time honoured and often superstitious which have been handed down from the past, are still conserved by the people in their way of life, and will be passed on by them to the future. These two aspects cannot of course be separated and indeed cross at right angles at every moment; for the symbols of folklore and legend enshrine and preserve for posterity high metaphysical truths, while the transmission of spiritualinfluence from Master to disciple is both vertical and horizontal.”

It is a misconception to limit haikus to ecological nature. I lived in Japan in the 1970's. Some of the spirituality there happens to coincidentally often refer to nature.

Writings favored by some American academics, such as those by Jack Kerouac, should not have the last word on the preferred "school" of haiku that should be imposed on poetry.

Do not force the term Senryu onto some of the actual haikus.
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Submitted on May 08, 2015

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