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Call of the Page (Alan & Karen)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Basho's Summer Grasses



I found this hanging up on a wall in a Japanese cafe:

The summer grass -
'Tis all that's left
Of ancient warriors' dreams.

Inazo Nitobe

No mention of Basho as the author of the original Japanese poem on the poster, or that this is a translation.

When I Googled, I found that Inazo Nitobe, the famous Bushido author, did translate this, and the poster simply leaves off Basho's name as the original author.

Cache:
Daily Yomiuri, Early summer rain falls, temple of light shine

Japanese Reference Site:
Summer Grasses & Samurai Glossary

"Perhaps Bashō wanted to emphasize natural growth as a force of solace and renewal – seeing the summer grasses at Hiraizumi as a reason for hope as well as melancholy; hence “deep” would perhaps seem too dark and brooding a word."
A Dream of Ruined Walls by Paul Rouzer, University of Minnesota
http://simplyhaiku.com/SHv4n2/features/Rouzer.html


I personally visited the area which Basho wrote about in his Summer Grasses haiku, but alas there was no marker to the famous haiku & battle.

夏草や兵どもが夢の跡

Summer grasses,
All that remains
Of soldiers’ dreams

ON LOVE AND BARLEY, HAIKU OF BASHO Matsuo Basho - Author, Lucien Stryk - Translator

The romanised version (romaji):

Natsukusa ya
Tsuwamonodomo ga
Yume no ato

Transliteration:

natsu-gusa ya / tsuwamono-domo-ga / yume no ato

summer grasses (:!) / strong ones’ / dreams’ site 

(romanised version with literal English-language translation)


these summer grasses: 
the remains of warriors 
with their dreams

(English-language translation version by Alan Summers)

Basho http://www.uoregon.edu/~kohl/basho/life.html 



Another Summer grasses haiku, and powerful in its context of the dawning of the industrial age in Japan is:

summer grasses—
the wheels of the locomotive
come to a stop

YAMAGUCHI Seishi (1901 - 1994)
translated by Takashi Kodaira and Alfred H. Marks

The Essence of Modern Haiku - haiku by Yamaguchi Seishi

A Sample Page of The Essence of Modern Haiku including notes plus Japanese characters and romaji
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