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REPRINT: Buson's Hokku Poems in Four Seasons


Acknowledgement: Translations here are based on Yuki Sawa and Edith M. Shiffert's Haiku Master Buson, Heian International, 1978. Some amendments were made by Hiroo Saga. He expresses deep gratitude to Yuki Sawa and Edith Shiffert.


Spring

The year's first poem done, with smug self confidence--a haikai poet.

Longer has become the daytime; a pheasant is fluttering down onto the bridge.

Yearning for the Bygones

Lengthening days, accumulating, and recalling the days of distant past.

Slowly passing days, with an echo heard here in a corner of Kyoto.

The white elbow of a priest, dozing, in the dusk of spring.

Into a nobleman, a fox has changed himself--early evening of spring.

The light on a candle stand is transferred to another candle--spring twilight.

A short nap, then awakening--this spring day has darkened.

Who is it for, this pillow on the floor, in the twilight of spring?

The big gateway's heavy doors, standing in the dusk of spring.

Hazy moonlight--someone is standing among the pear trees.

Blossoms on the pear tree, lighten by the moonlight, and there a woman is reading a letter.

Springtime rain--almost dark, and yet today still lingers.

Springtime rain--a little shell on a small beach, enough to moisten it.

Springtime rain is falling, as a child's rag ball is soaking wet on the house roof.

Summer

Within the quiteness of a lull in visitors' absence, appears the peony flower!

Peony having scattered, two or three petals lie on one another.

The rain of May--facing toward the big river, houses, just two of them.

At a Place Called Kaya in Tanba

A summer river being crossed, how pleasing, with sandals in my hands!

The mountain stonecutter's chisel; being cooled in the clear water.

Grasses wet in the rain, just after the festival cart passed by.

To my eyes how delightful the fan of my beloved is, in complete white.

A flying cuckoo, over the Heian capital, goes diagonally across the city.

Evening breeze--water is slapping against the legs of a blue heron.

An old well--jumping at a mosquito, the fish's sound is dark.

Young bamboo trees--at Hashimoto, the courtesan, is she still there or not?

After having been fallen, its image still stands--the peony flower.

Stepping on the Eastern Slope

Wild roses in bloom--so like a pathway in, or toward, my home village.

With sorrow while coming upon the hill --flowering wild roses.

Summer night ending so soon, with on the river shallows still remains the moon in a sliver.

 

Autumn

It penetrates into me; stepping on the comb of my gone wife, in the bedroom.

More than last year, I now feel solitude; this autumn twilight.

This being alone may even be a kind of happy--in the autumn dusk.

Moon in the sky's top, clearly passes through this poor town street.

This feeling of sadness--a fishing string being blown by the autumn wind.

 

Winter

Let myself go to bed; New Year's Day is only a matter for tomorrow.

Camphor tree roots are quietly getting wet, in the winter rainy air.

A handsaw is sounding, as if from a poor one, at midnight in this winter.

Old man's love affair; in trying to forget it, a winter rainfall.

In an old pond, a straw sandal is sinking--it is sleeting.

 

Elegy to the Old Man Hokuju

You left in the morning, at evening my heart is in a
thousand pieces.
Why is it so far away?

Thinking of you, I go up on the hill and wander.
Around the hill, why is it such a sadness?

Dandelions yellow and shepherds-purse blooming white--
not anyone to look at them.

I hear a pheasant, calling and calling fervently.
Once a friend was there across the river, living.

Ghostly smoke rises and fades away with a west wind
strong in fields of small bamboo grasses and reedy fields.
Nowhere to leave for.

Once a friend was there across the river, living, but today
not even a bird sings a song.

You left in the morning, at evening my heart is in a
thousand pieces.
Why is it so far away?

In my grass hut by the Amida image I light no candle,
offer no flowers, and only sit here alone.
This evening, how invaluable it is.

Priest Buson
with a thousand bowings


Reprinted with permission from Hiroo Saga's Buson website


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