Buson was born in the Taniguchi family in Settsu Province, and later changed to the surname of Yosa, for the town in Tango Province. He advocated a return to the style of Bashō. He left many haiku and paintings. His vision sweeps over vast realms of space and time. The material here was again inspired by Nakano Koji, translated by Julia Winters Carpenter, in the book, Words to Live By, 2018.
Haiku of Space
Buson’s poetic imagination evokes the expansiveness of space. After a boat trip down the Yodo River in the freezing night, Buson wrote the following, highlighting the moon and the frost and himself in a small boat.
shūchū ni ware
tsuki o ryosu
Frost for a hundred leagues —
alone in my boat
I rule the moon.
The peony, too, appears in a poem of a hundred leagues of space.
For a hundred leagues square
holding rainclouds at bay —
As Mr. Nakano states: “The peony has the power to hold rainclouds at bay for a hundred leages in all directions.” This haiku requires us to translate the word, yosenu. Dictionary meanings for the verb 寄(よせる) are many. They vary from “to bring near” to “to push away.” Here, Nakano takes the latter meaning. Again, Buson uses the imagery of a hundred leagues of space and a small peony flower.
Another simple, yet dramatic, scene is this haiku tagged “Spring scenery”.
na no hana ya
tsuki wa higashi ni
hi wa nishi ni
the moon in the east,
the sun in the west.
Haiku of Time
Nakano aptly calls these haiku “Layers of Time.” He points out that, in addition to his view of space, Buson expresses an ability to see the passage of time. Let us consider some of the seasonal poems.
osoki hi no
Lazy spring days
piling up — so far away,
In the lazy days of spring, the past seems far away. And yet —
kyō mata kurete
yuku haru ya
today is also ending —
so goes the spring.
kosu ureshisa yo
te ni zōri
The joy of wading
across a summer stream
sandals in hand.
Buson thus wrote of the pleasure of wading in a cool stream in the hot summer of Tamba.
kyonen yori mata sabishii zo aki no kure
mata sabishii zo
aki no kure
than last year —
the end of autumn.
This haiku evokes memory of Bashō’s kono michi ya / yuku hito nashi ni / aki no kure.
こがらしや岩に裂行水の聲Cold wintry wind —
kogarashi ya iwa ni sake yuku mizu no koe
Breaking over rocks
The voice of water.
—– Takafumi Saito and William R. Nelson,
trans., 1020 Haiku in Translation (2006)
956, 249; from Upaya.org.
hatsuyuki no soko wo tatakeba take no tsuki
Ed. Note: This is such a magnificent haiku that we leave it to you to interpret for yourself. Hatsuyuki means first snow; soko is bottom; tataku is to beat; take is bamboo; tsuki is moon.
Buson’s range of haiku includes this exciting scene.
To Toba Palace
race five or six horsemen —
These horsemen are riding furiously through the storm to the villa of the retired emperor Shirakawa near Kyoto. This historical scenario would have taken place during Shirakawa’s lifetime, 1053-1129, six hundred years earlier.
Buson left many paints from simple sketches to grand vistas in the Chinese style. Here is a painting commemorating Basho’s journey to Michinoku.