Presentation for dVerse Poets: Japanese Death Poems

Today I’m presenting Japanese Death Poems at dVerse Poets for Meeting the Bar, please join us:  http://dversepoets.com/2015/09/24/jisei-japanese-death-poems/

Matsuo Basho

Matsuo Basho

 

Basho's death poem

Wikipedia:  Matsuo Bashō, 1644-1694, was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. During his lifetime, Bashō was recognized for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga form; today, after centuries of commentary, he is recognized as the greatest master of haiku.

 

Clouds silhouetted
against setting sun’s waning
winter’s sleep is near
*
Singing temple bell
encircles the valley’s pond
resting place awaits
*
No need for despair
this shell has aged and withered
morning breaks again
celebrate my renewal
freedom is mine, farewell all!
*
Howling, sickly wolf
moonless path ends abruptly
heart heavy, cries die
*
I had a nice drive
the journey was full and wide
the outing complete
*
Cherry blossoms drift
on the breeze scattering far
and near, I gather
memories to take with me,
hands grasp only emptiness
*
Wide awake I’ve been
for what seems like just a blink
slumber beckons now
*
Long, drawn-out journey
sharp mind in a withered shell
window framed my world
slowly now, life is ebbing
my path worn down by my dreams
*
Coming and going
are inconsequential and
meaningless yet we
celebrate the one and mourn
the other, pure balderdash!
*
Mountain’s pinnacle
will soon be summitted, the
loon’s call through the mist
guides me to the unseen peak,
only a few more paces

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51 Comments

  1. My favorite is the third…no need for despair! Hope to feel that way at the end of life. Also enjoyed the idea of a nice drive…life is indeed a journey…and, ha, we all end up in the same destination eventually.

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  2. I love the bouquet of tanka and haiku ~ I would like to think of death as a another journey completed and certainly as mountain’s pinnacle to be climbed guided by the loon’s call ~

    I really enjoyed this prompt Gayle ~ Thanks for being our guest blogger at D’verse ~

    Liked by 1 person

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    • I like to think of death that way too, Grace. I’m so glad you approached me to guest host and that you enjoyed the prompt. I am honored and appreciate all that you do for dVerse.

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  3. Glenn Buttkus

     /  September 24, 2015

    A wonderful group of ten, five haiku & five tanka; perfect illustrations for your prompt. I’d never heard of this form, but found it fascinating. I did one each kanshi, tanka, & haiku. I wish now I ad been braver & doubled the amount; but it is good for me to sometimes be held down to shorter works–I tend to go long. I like your lines /I gather memories/to take with me/hands grasp only emptiness/.

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    • Many thanks, Glenn. It does take some discipline to write these short forms. They’re more challenging than you might think, right? But you did an excellent job…really enjoyed your offerings. And you can always continue your practice of course.

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  4. A lovely grouping. I wish I had linked more myself. I may come back and link a couple more to add to this interesting prompt. I had a nice drive…..excellent senryu! It says it all as our lives should be. All these are so different and yet, all have the same acceptance, joy, common sense feelings. A true joy to read.

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  5. A wonderful collection.. so many good thoughts about death, it’s simple, yet so very complicated. I love to look upon it as a journey.

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    • Thanks so much, Bjorn. I like to look upon it as a continuation of one long journey and that we pass on effortlessly. A lot less fearful way of looking at it.

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  6. These are all wonderful, each with its own personality. My favorite is the third one, because it seems to hold such hope. I also like the penultimate one (partly for giving me a reason to use the word penultimate in a comment), but also because it includes the word balderdash, which I like a lot. Peace, Linda

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    • Thank you, Linda. I had to look up that word, I didn’t know what it meant! Ok, so now I know…it is a great word and I like “balderdash” too. 😉 Peace…

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      Reply
  7. So many wonderful poems, it was joy reading them all. My favorite must be:
    Cherry blossoms drift
    on the breeze scattering far
    and near, I gather
    memories to take with me,
    hands grasp only emptiness
    I see so many different things in so few words, that is th true beauty of it.

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  8. What a variety of forms and sentiments you present here – I really enjoyed reading them and will come back to them tomorrow morning with a fresh eye (its my bedtime over here). Thank you for the prompt – I’d read these poems before but never thought of attempting one myself!

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    • Thanks for that, Marina and have a good night’s sleep. See you tomorrow and I’m so glad you gave it a try…they’re fun, right?

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  9. There is a GREAT Joy
    Living Feeling
    Living.. i
    cannot
    imagine
    wanting
    to go..:)

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  10. Gayle, I just love these. That sharp mind in the withered body–I’ve witnessed this so often. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and skills with us at the bar. I would love to see you join the team!!!

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    • I know you must have seen a lot of that, Victoria. Death must surely be welcomed you would think. I am so intrigued by this form and so glad that you’re here to join in. Well, what would my role be if I joined up with such an impressive team? I’m a little taken aback! 🙂

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  11. Very lovely writing. And a beautiful philosophy.

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  12. Nice variety here..I think yours are especially hopeful and easing…great tradition we need to adopt to add beauty to the so often gloom.

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  13. I gather memories to take with me, hands grasp only emptiness… that’s beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

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  14. These are all marvelous!

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  15. Great prompt, Gayle. Enjoyed attempting death poems for the first time. Loved all of yours, especially the one where ‘hands grasp only emptiness’ – something we all tend to forget while accumulating all our possessions.

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  16. lovely – for me recently….

    Acceptance of death
    A strength to banish fear
    Embrace the robin’s song

    But I’m also reminded of the great Yogi Berra who at age 90 when asked by his wife where he wanted to be buried replied: “I don’t know, surprise me”

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    • It would be nice if we could adapt some of the ways of accepting the inevitable so our fear is lessened. One of my daughters was just telling me that she and her husband were reading some of his “isms.” That’s a good one! Thanks for coming by, Bill.

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  17. Thank you Gayle for the history of this type of poetry, although I knew it was Japanese, I did not know the origins… Loved this verse
    “Coming and going
    are inconsequential and
    meaningless yet we
    celebrate the one and mourn
    the other, pure balderdash” ,, 🙂

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend my friend.. 🙂 Love Sue

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  18. Anonymous

     /  September 25, 2015

    Gosh, you are just so good. Loved the “wide awake” one.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  19. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade)

     /  September 25, 2015

    Wow, how productive! You must have covered every possible response to death. I particularly love the humour of the ‘nice drive’.

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    Reply
  20. Beautiful writing. Autumn isalready sad enough, without adding thoughts of death. I prefer the idea of cherry blossom….

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  21. A wonderful collection here! The second last one gave me a chuckle with the “in your face” feel of that “balderdash” line. Thank you for a wonderful prompt too!!

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    Reply
  22. What a lovely Jisei written with wisdom and resignation. I like especially you’ve had a nice drive. A full ride journey. We sense fulfillment. Very nicely done.

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