Friday, November 17, 2017

Carpe Diem Weekend-Meditation #7 Tan Renga Challenge "the last colorful leaves"

!! Open for your submissions Sunday November 19th at 7:00 PM (CET) !!!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new weekend-meditation here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, the place to be if you like to write and share Japanese poetry.

This weekend I love to challenge you with Tan Renga, that nice tanka-like poem created by two poets. The goal is to write the second stanza towards a given haiku, to create a Tan Renga. This weekend however I have one with a twist for you too.

For the first Tan Renga I will give you the first stanza (the haiku), a haiku by Matsuo Basho:

deep silence
the shrill of cicadas
seeps into rocks

© Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694)

But for the second Tan Renga I will give you the second stanza of two lines, to this Tan Renga you have to create the first stanza, the haiku. Here is the 2nd stanza for the second Tan Renga:

soft winter breeze cherishes
the last colorful leaves   

© Chèvrefeuille

So let me give you a brief explanation for this weekend-meditation. The goal is to complete two Tan Renga. One by completing the first stanza with a second stanza and the other Tan Renga you have to complete by putting the first stanza of three (3) lines towards it.

To conclude this episode I have an announcement to make:

Today starts the My Haiku Pond Academy Contest Troiku, I will be the Judge of this contest. You can find this CONTEST HERE.

This weekend-meditation is open for your submissions next Sunday November 19th at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until November 26th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode around 7:00 PM (CET) next Sunday. For now ... have fun!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Carpe Diem #1307 The Vessel

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's a little bit sad day today. I failed an exam I had today, but well it's not something to worry about. I will make it again on another day. Now I only have my thoughts at this episode. What can I tell you about this quatrain? It's the sequel of the verse of yesterday. These two verses are connected and I will try to explain that with a little help of bob forrest, who wrote a verse to verse explanation of "The Rubaiyat". It's that explanation I used this month already in all the episodes. Before I had heard about "The Rubaiyat", I really hadn't a clue what a quatrain was or who Omar Khayyam was so I just needed a suitable source of information. It took me some time to find the verse to verse explanation, but I am glad that I found it. "The Rubaiyat" is a wonderful compilation of quatrains with a whole lot of hidden layers, without the verse to verse explanation I couldn't make this month.

Omar Khayyam
Let me give you the quatrain for your inspiration:

I think the Vessel, that with fugitive
Articulation answered, once did live,
And merry-make; and the cold Lip I kiss'd
How many Kisses might it take - and give !

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


“The Vessel” here is the earthen bowl of the previous verse. The lip of the bowl becomes the lip of someone once living, and thus once capable of giving kisses.

The idea that, on death, we return to earth or clay from which can be made a Vessel/ Cup/Bowl is but one idea. Another idea is that our clay may become that of simple building bricks. Thus, for example, Hafiz wrote that “this ruined world is resolved, when we are dead, to make only bricks of our clay!” (from Ode VI in the translation by Cowell).

It's a joy to read again a "note" to an other Persian poet, Hafiz, in this explanation. Hafiz is one of my favorite Persian poets and I even think he is also the most loved Persian poet all around the globe. In the poems by Hafiz we found also several hidden layers.

Hafiz quote
In Christian tradition the phrase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”, is common use in the tradition of a funeral, but it isn’t a phrase in the Holy Scripture it is based on Genesis 3:19, Genesis 18:27, Job 30:19, and Ecclesiastes 3:20. Those passages say that we begin and end as dust.

So is there also a reference to Christian belief in this quatrain by Omar Khayyam? Maybe it is, maybe it is not. I don’t know. However I like the idea that we can find references to Christian belief in a Persian compilation of verses.

smoke rises
from the pyre
to Heaven

© Chèvrefeuille (experimental haiku)

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 23rd at noon (CET). I will publish our new "weekend-meditation" later on. For now ... have fun!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Carpe Diem #1306 The Secret Well of Life

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our Haiku Kai were we are exploring the beauty of Omar Khayyam's "The Rubaiyat" as translated by FitzGerald. "The Rubaiyat" is a compilation of 100 quatrains, but as I told you earlier this month, "The Rubaiyat" is just a small part of Khayyam's quatrains, he created around 2000 quatrains.

Today's episode I have titled "The Secret Well of Life". In my opinion "the secret well of life" is similar with the "Elixer of Life" as was the goal for the Alchemists. They not only were searching for the "Stone" to create gold, but also for the "Elixer of Life". If this is true for this quatrain we will see.

As I was preparing this month I read "The Rubaiyat" and there were several quatrains in which Khayyam uses "earthen bowls" or "pots". In this quatrain that's also a theme.

Earthen Pots (this is one of the first logos I used by the way)
Let me give you the quatrain for today and after that the background (source: bob forrest):

Then to this earthen Bowl did I adjourn
My Lip the secret Well of Life to learn:
And Lip to Lip it murmured - "While you live
Drink ! - for once dead you never shall return.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


This is the first of many references to earthen bowls or pots, which for Omar Khayyam are both drinking vessels and symbolic of people (via Adam being made from clay or earth; hence earth to earth, ashes to ashes etc.) In some cases, he pictures the Clay from which an Earthen Vessel is made as being that formed from the body of some long-dead person which has turned back into earth again. Here, in drinking from the bowl, the poet’s lip presses on the lip of the bowl. Here again we have Omar’s philosophy, repeated throughout the poem, but here expressed by the earthen wine bowl, “Drink! – for once dead you never shall return!”

The following lines by Hafiz involve not only the image of the cup of mortal clay touching the lips of the living, but also other Omarian images of the transience of Kings and of flowers growing from the dust of the dead or from their spilt blood. The translation is from Gertrude Bell's Poems from the Divan of Hafiz (1897), poem 26:

...Time's revolving sphere
Over a thousand lives like thine has rolled.
That cup within thy fingers, dost not hear
The voices of dead kings speak through the clay?
Kobad, Bahman, Djemshid, their dust is here.
'Gently upon me set thy lips!' they say.

What man can tell where Kaus and Kai have gone?
Who knows where even now the restless wind
Scatters the dust of Djem's imperial throne?
And where the tulip, following close behind
The feet of Spring, her scarlet chalice rears,
There Ferhad for the love of Sherin pined,
Dyeing the desert red with his tears.

© Hafiz

(The forbidden love between the lowly Ferhad and the princess Sherin is an old Persian love story. Ferhad killed himself in the desert when he was tricked into believing that Sherin was dead. Hearing of Ferhad's death, Sherin also killed herself, and subsequently the two were buried together.)

Ferhad and Shirin (a Persian lovestory)

The Persian love-story about Ferhad and Shirin is similar with that tragedy created by Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet. It's a forbidden love, because Shirin is a princess and Ferhad is just a low-ranked man. As Ferhad dies, Shirin takes her own life, because she cannot live with Ferhad.

The title of this episode is extracted from the quatrain used and it can also refer to that strong love as mentioned in the story of Ferhad and Shirin. Isn't love the secret well of life?

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 22nd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on. For now ... have fun!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Carpe Diem #1305 No Key

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our Haiku Kai. This month it's all about "The Rubaiyat" by the Persian poet and scholar Omar Khayyam. In this 'book' we read quatrains, say about 100 of them, but Khayyam wrote more than 2000 quatrains, however this month we will only look at "The Rubaiyat". The translations I use are by FitzGerald, who published the first English edition of "The Rubaiyat" in the 19th century. FitzGerald gave this selection the title "The Rubaiyat" which means "quatrains".

The Rubaiyat, one of the more recent prints
Todays quatrain (no. 32) is the sequel to the verse of yesterday. Today's episode I have titled "No Key", because it refers to the essence of this verse.

Maybe you can remember that we read "Aleph" by Paulo Coelho while on the Trans Siberian Railroad. In "Aleph" Paulo is on a quest to find his former life. He dreams sometimes of a place with several doors. Those doors cannot open cmpletely, or even not opened at all. There is No Key. "No Key" is something we see and hear regular in spirituality. "No Key" to open the door, the path and more.
In this 32th quatrain that's the essence of the verse ... not all can be opened ...

Here is the quatrain to work with today:

There was a Door to which I found no Key:
There was a Veil past which I could not see:
Some little Talk awhile of ME and THEE
There seemed – and then no more of THEE and ME.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)

closed door

The Door and Veil are metaphorical barriers which prevent us from seeing the answer to the riddle of human Death and Fate. The idea seems to be that while the mysterious voices behind these barriers talk about us, we live; but once they stop talking, we must die. It is interesting that in Islam, “…death is believed to be a door to the realm of the afterlife, which according to Islamic tradition starts with the grave.” It is interesting, too, that “the Veil” is a term commonly used by Spiritualists to describe the supposed barrier that exists between the spirit world and the land of the living.

As I look at this background (source: Bob Forrest) then something is coming to my attention. Omar Khayyam, was not only a poet and scholar, but also a philosopher. In this quatrain he shows us who he looks at the spirit world. As a mystery, something that we can not catch. Another thing which caught my attention is that in the Qu'ran, as it seems, there is also an idea about the afterlife. It is seen as a realm, but that realm we only can reach through opening the door to the grave. That's also the idea about afterlife in Christian tradition. As I was reading this quatrain I thought immediately that Khayyam had questions about the afterlife, he shows that through the use of "the veil" in this verse. "The Veil" between life and death. Can it be that he questioned the afterlife, if that was really the end? Or was he thinking that there had to be something else ... reincarnation for example.

The Veil? The ethereal 4th dimension? Afterlife? Reincarnation?
behind the veil
mystery awaits
new life?

© Chèvrefeuille (experimental haiku)

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 21st at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Carpe Diem #1304 The Seventh Gate

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As I was preparing this month, by reading the entire "Rubaiyat" there were several quatrains I didn't understand. Those quatrains sounded magical and mysterious. Today's quatrain is such a quatrain which I couldn't understand at first, but after reading the background on this verse it became very clear what the meaning was of this quatrain. This quatrain gives you in words a visual of the Universe as was thought about in the time of Khayyam.
Nowadays we know that the sun is the center of our Universe, but in the time of Khayyam everyone thought that the Earth was the center of the Universe. Omar Khayyam as an astronomer however had already ideas about our Universe ... in his idea the sun was the center of the Universe, so he was far ahead of his time.

The Universe
Let me give you the verse for today ... it's again a nice one, but the choice of words sounds magical and mysterious in my opinion.

Up from Earth's Centre through the seventh Gate
I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate,
And many Knots unravel'd by the Road;
But not the Knot of Human Death and Fate.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


Above I already gave a kind of explanation of this quatrain. I think this background (source: Bob Forrest web) will give you all a better explanation of this quatrain.

At the time of Omar Khayyam, the Earth was generally believed to be at the centre of the universe, and surrounded by seven spheres associated with the then known seven planets. In order of distance from the Earth, the spheres were those of: (1) The Moon, (2) Mercury, (3) Venus, (4) the Sun, (5) Mars, (6) Jupiter, (7) Saturn. The sense of this verse is that the Poet ascended to the outermost sphere of the universe so that he could view the whole “from the outside”, and though this journey made many things clear to him, he could still not see the answer to the riddle of human Death and Fate.

The Ancient Idea Of The Universe, The Flower Of Life

It is sometimes said that Omar Khayyam, as an astronomer, was ahead of his time, and advocated a Sun-centred model of the Universe rather than the more ‘obvious’ Earth-centred one, but this verse does seem to be Earth-centred. Of course, this is FitzGerald’s translation, and is a poetic reference rather than an astronomical one. Nevertheless, more literal translations of the Persian also seem to be Earth-centred. Thus Edward Heron-Allen gives, “From the Nadir of the earthly globe, up to the Zenith of Saturn”; and Edward Henry Whinfield, “down from Saturn’s wreath, unto this lowly sphere of Earth beneath.” 

at sunrise
birds praising their Creator
without questions

© Chèvrefeuille

Let me give you a brief explanation of this haiku. We humans are always searching for answers, we have thousand questions, we want to know everything, but birds never question their existence and praise their Creator every day again. Isn't that awesome ... !?

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 20th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Carpe Diem #1303 Seed of Wisdom

!! Sorry for being this late with publishing !!!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our wonderful daily meme here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, the place to be if you like to write and share Japanese poetry. A warmhearted family of lovers of Japanese poetry.
We are busy with the exploration of Omar Khayyam's "The Rubaiyat" and until today I think it is a joy to read your responses on all these beautiful quatrains.

Our episode's title "seed of wisdom" is extracted from the 28th quatrain from "The Rubaiyat" and I love to tell you a little bit more about the "seed of wisdom". On several occasions I was adressed as "sensei" or "master", but in my opinion that's to much honor. I am only a guy who loves to share a little bit of his knowledge about haiku, tanka and other Japanese poetry forms. Of course there was once a seed planted, I think in my case, that was somewhere in the late eighties as I discovered haiku. I was immediately caught by this wonderful tiny poem from the Far East. I studied several books about this poetry form and as I started CDHK in 2012 I was a connaisseur of haiku and later on I also became addicted to Tanka and studied that form too. And than ... there is of course my own philosophy in which "unconditional love for all and everything" is the most important idea. That "seed of wisdom" was planted back in the time I was a teenager, in that time I ran into the occult and was caught by it. It made me sick and it took a while to become free again, but in that time I found the reason of my life here on earth, I found the wisdom I needed ... I even gave word to it in one of the novels I have written ... the "seed of wisdom" has bloomed and still blossoms further ...

Seed Of Wisdom
Here is the quatrain to work with. I will of  course give you also a little bit background on this quatrain.

With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow;
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd--
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


The development of the Poet’s philosophical studies are likened to a crop – seed, growth, harvest – and yet the end result is the realisation of the utter transience of earthly life, and the pointlessness of philosophising: “I came like Water, and like Wind I go”. Compare the reference to the Wind in John 3.8 (“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth…”); also the epitaph on the tomb of the poet John Keats in Rome: “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.”

Much less well known than the epitaph of Keats is the following verse by John Masefield, typewritten on a piece of paper addressed to his "Heirs, Administrators and Assigns", and found only after his death in 1967. Curiously, it asks that Water and Wind be allowed to disperse his ashes after cremation:

Let no religious rite be done or read
In any place for me when I am dead,
But burn my body into ash, and scatter
The ash in secret into running water,
Or on the windy down, and let none see;
And then thank God that there's an end of me.

Westminster Abbey London England

He didn't get his wish, of course - as Poet Laureate he was doomed to have his ashes interred in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, amidst traditional pomp and ceremony. Also ignored were his wishes regarding publication of his life and letters, as expressed in a short poem entitled "Sweet Friends", which poem became the last in the edition of the Collected Poems of John Masefield, first published by Heinemann in 1923:

Print not my life nor letters; put them by:
When I am dead let memory of me die.
Blessed be those who in their mercy heed
This heartfelt prayer of mine to Adam's Seed;
Blessed be they, but may a curse pursue
All who reject this living prayer, and do.

I like to explore the background of these quatrains by Omar Khayyam, but of course I have my sources to share this background with you all.

sunflowers bloom
seed of wisdom spread out
a new day rises

© Chèvrefeuille

Sorry for being late. This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 19th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on. I am on the nightshift so I hope to be on time tomorrow.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Wandering Spirit Challenge #1 daisan

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

A few weeks ago I asked your help with writing the daisan (third verse) for a renga which I, Yozakura, am writing together with my sensei Basho. He asked me to create the third verse with the moon as kigo. I had difficulties with creating that verse and so asked your help.

Together with Chèvrefeuille, your host, I have chosen for the daisan written by Dolores Fegan. We thought that verse fits the best. Let me give you the three first verses, including the daisan, here:

at dawn
birds sing their songs
dewdrops shimmer

cherry blossoms bloom again
shelter for young sparrows

the pale moon hangs
still fresh against the sky
trailing morning glories
                 (Yozakura with the help of Dolores)

I think this daisan gives Basho the possibility to create the next stanza. Thank you all for your help and Dolores ... congratulations. Chèvrefeuille will create a special Wandering Spirit episode in which your work will be highlighted.

Katajike nai, thank you