February 17th 2016

Tonight is my one hundredth haiku. I imagine my hundredth as the best so far, but my abilities aren’t equal to my ambitions. That got me thinking about a passage by R.H. Blythe, in A History of Haiku:
Saikaku, 1643-1693, had a position of importance in the haikai world of his time, but as a novelist he eclipsed himself. Once, when studying under Soin, he made one thousand six hundred verses in a day. hearing of this, another poet made two thousand eight hundred. Not to be outdone Saikaku made four thousand verses during the day-time only…. His style of haiku-writing was criticized not only by the Teimon School but also by the School of Basho as being wretched and dissolute. He wrote very few good hokku… [p. 86]
Four thousand! Supposing a 12 hour day, that’s one hokku/haiku every 10 seconds or so. But I take some comfort in only having written a hundred haiku in a hundred days. Perhaps not all of them are wretched and dissolute.
····the icy wind—the teakettle’s
Tonight I drank raspberry tea with a spoonful of honey and lemon rinds. I lay my favorite complete Shakespeare to my left. As I work on my longer blank verse poem I occasionally open Shakespeare for the beauty of the language. I also keep a collection of Basho, Issa and Buson close by. Last night I finished a book of haiku by western writers, a collection covering the last hundred years.
And then I ask myself why I write? As an Indian sage once remarked: The miracle is that despite knowing we must die, we nevertheless choose to live as if we didn’t.
103 February 17th 2016 | bottlecap

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