National Poetry Month: National Haiku Poetry Day

Far Beyond the Field

April is National Poetry Month, and yesterday, April 17, was National Haiku Poetry Day. In honor of the occasion, our selection today is taken from Far Beyond the Field: Haiku by Japanese Women, an innovative anthology of haiku by female poets, edited by Makoto Ueda. Ueda selected poems from twenty poets living between the 1600s and the 2000s. We have selected a few haiku from five of the poets featured in Far Beyond the Field for today’s post.

Den Sutejo
1633 – 1698

the princess pine
clad in thin snow–
you’re a light dresser!

pine mushrooms
live a thousand years
in one autumn

is there
a shortcut through the clouds,
summer moon?

not a single leaf–
even the moon does not lodge
in this willow tree

Kawai Chigetsu
1634 – 1718

pointing their fingers
and standing on tiptoe
children admire the moon

spring snow
revives the greenery
then goes

they wait for spring–
stuck under the ice
trash and rubbish

a bush warbler–
my hands in the kitchen sink
rest for a while

Enomoto Seifu
1732 – 1815

at daybreak
speaking to the blossoms
a woman all alone

no more water–
decaying in the ivy
a bamboo drain

an aged butterfly
letting its soul play
with a chrysanthemum

unchanging dolls’ faces–
I’ve had no choice, except
to grow old

Mitsuhashi Takajo
1899 – 1972

winter has begun–
trees alive and dead

their lives last
only while aflame–
a woman and a pepper pod

a woman stands
all alone, ready to wade
across the Milky Way

among thousands
of singing insects, one
singing out of tune

Mayuzumi Madoka
b. 1965

whispering among themselves–
hazy spring night

choosing a swimsuit–
when did his eyes
replace mine?

like a dead
body, I try to stay afloat
in the pool

impelled to dream
of soaring in the sky–
goldfish at night

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