H  A  I  K  U     S  P  I  R  I  T
Cage of Fireflies


published by Swallow Press, 1993
Translated by LUCIEN STRYK


SHIKI (1867-1902)

White butterfly
darting among pinks -
whose spirit?

Indian summer:
dragonfly shadows seldom
brush the window.

Aged nightingale -
how sweet
the cuckoo's cry.

Wicker chair
in pinetree's shade,

on summer plain -
world's seat.

Summer sky
clear after rain -
ants on parade

Imagine -
the monk took off
before the moon shone.

Thing long forgotten -
pot where a flower blooms,
this spring day

FURA (1888-1954)

Crow perched
in winter grove -
How far I've come!

HOSHA (1885-1954)

First thing to catch my ear -
of my native village.

KYOSHI (1874-1959)

Spring gale -
high on the hill,
I clench my fists.

of mid-autumn -
my aching back!

How heavy
on my eyes,
the winter sun.

Giant pasania tree,
autumn's sky.

Lashing wind
the rocks.

Insects, village lights,
for each other.

by the falcon's eye -
man in the field.

Garden stones,
all day long,

Beaks of ducks,
spring mud.

Tossing the may-bug
into the dark -
how deep.

Autumn wind - in my heart,
how many mountains,
how many rivers.

Depth of winter -
every path
twice as long.

Exiting the Great Gate
of the harsh Zen temple,
flower of arrowroot.

Winter trees
lean high
into the heavens.

Swift boat
through spring leaves
tenting the river.

Sick man
squinting through mosquito netting,
into smudge.

Aging -
more haiku,
more turnip broth.

SOSEKI (1867-1916)

Late cicadas -
how much longing
in their song.

Red dragonfly,
seeking company,
lands on my shoulder.

Winter song -
hatchet felling bamboos
in the mountains.

Full atumn moon -
I too am quite well,
as you can see.

Which leaves
will be the first to go?
Only the wind knows.

HAKUSEN (20th century)

Night - over
sleeping children,
sound of the waves.

MEISETSU (1847-1926)

fresh purchased -
already the town's bell.

Traveling priest
vanishing in mist,
trailed by his bell.

All I ask of the world,
a hot water bottle -
I'm cold!

SUIHA (1872-1946)

Postman - how high
will he climb into
snow-drifts of mountains?

Violets -
rays of sunlight,

SEISENSUI (1884-?)

Evening grave -
on trodden earth.

Full moon
come to
its glorious end.

In the mountain sky
a line of smoke -
someone lives up there.

SANTOKA (1882-1940)

Laying down chopsticks -
I'm grateful.

perched on my shoulder,
out for a stroll.

SHIKUNRO (20th century)

Beggar passes -
shadow to sunlight,
sunlight to shadow.

SEISI (1869-1937)

The beggar
whisks the butterfly
before him.

TOYOJO (1878-?)

Brow to cliff,
he drinks
clear water.

FUSEI (1885-?)

Through petals
on the pond,
eye of the frog.

Cat dozing on the stove -
is there one thing
he doesn't know?

HEKIGODO (1873-1937)

All that God offers -
this path across
the parched moor.

KUSATAO (1901-?)

With autumn
both grown old,
my friend, the door-plate.

Horse, carting
winter sunlight
on his back.

TAKEO (1908-?)

Low spring tide -
evry thing
grained with sand.

HAKUU (1911-1936)

Cricket chirp -
my life is clear.

SHUOSHI (1892-?)

to a chrysanthemum -
how calm my life.

HAKYO (1913-1969)

Left by
the firefly,
grass bend low.

BOSHA (1900-1941)

A fit of coughing
the song of pines.

SHINKICHI (1901-1987)

Of all things living
I'd be a sweet potato,
fresh dug up.

SEKITO (20th century)

Autumn storm -
faces drawing close
in candle-light.

SOJO (1901-1956)

Flame passing
from stick to stick -
such quiet.

My wife - blurred
in my right eye,
clear in my left.

TAIZO (20th century)

Cloudy noon -
the garden peony,
how deeply white.

SEKITEI (1886-1951)

In two corners
of my temple garden
insects carry on.

IPPEKIRO (1887-1946)

Looking up -
how still
the tree I cut

In the stable,
meek, quiet, the horse
that killed the farmer.

AKUTAGAWA (1892-1927)

Frog, so green -
are you
fresh painted?

KASHO (20th century)

I live with Buddha,
but when cold
I long for mortals.

Into the cage of
fireflies, mostly dead,
I send a breath.

UTSUJI (1881-1920)

Socks drying
in frosty sun -

SEISHI (1901-?)

Moonlight -
in mid-air.

Deepening my grief,
of a branch.

Dewy night,
blazing stars -
I'll live forever.

Keeping snow at bay -
of the Zen Hall.

I stopped -
the stream
flowed off alone.

As long as I stand
on the cliff edge,
crabs stay put.

TATSUKO (20th century)

Winter light
touches the Great Buddha,
then the hills.

ARO (1879-1951)

Winter fly -
clinging to grass,
withering together.

ICHIRINSO (20th century)

A bit of sun -
world's full
of drying socks.

SANKI (1900-1962)

Come May, more and more
the dog
smells like dog.

RINKA (1904-?)

Butterflies gone,
how sharply blue
the sky

SHUSON (1905-?)

Over the mantis
I cup my hand -
a mantis.

Trees lost in haze -
a glint far off
becomes a heron.

TOTA (20th century)

Feels at home
here in the slums,
the butterfly.

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