More Free-Form Haiku by Ozaki Hōsai (尾崎放哉)


If you climb the mountain
you can see
everyone in the lonely village


On the train
only people
heading to work


The woman
in the newspaper on the wall
is always crying


I gather my thoughts
and sharpen my pencil


From behind the spring mountain
smoke came rising up


in the moonlight


I have no container
I will take it in my hands


Ozaki Hōsai (1885-1926) was an early free-form haiku poet. His only book of poems, 大空 (The Great Big Sky), was published posthumously. Thanks to Miyoshino Mori for correcting a mistranslation above. All poems taken from the Gendai Haiku Association Database.


6 thoughts on “More Free-Form Haiku by Ozaki Hōsai (尾崎放哉)

  1. Closing haiku is completely amazing. Love the train haiku too. Hosai has captured the essence of modern life with that one–no need to say more. Great picture of the poet.

    • Thank you for coming by. I love reading Hosai’s haiku. His vocabulary is surprisingly simple, but he’s able to put the words together in exciting ways. I think the great thing about free-form haiku is that it allows poets to write in a more natural voice. They are free to go over or under seventeen sounds as each poem requires, so they can write in a way that is very readable. And Hosai proves it doesn’t always take seventeen sounds to say a lot.

  2. Pingback: Pencils and Glass: More Free-Form Haiku by Ozaki Hōsai (尾崎放哉) | Entry No. 1 | word pond

  3. 心をまとめる鉛筆とがらす
    The heart is put together
    with pencils and glass

    This haiku actually means:

    I collect my (scattered) thoughts
    I sharpen the pencil

    “togarasu” (とがらす) is an alternative form of
    “togaraseru” (とがらせる, to sharpen)
    “garasu” means glass only when written in katakana.

    • Thank you so much for this correction. It’s a much better poem, the way he intended it. I will make the necessary changes. If you catch any other mistranslations, please let me know.

      • It’s confusing because the particle o (を) is omitted in the second sentence,
        though not omitted in the first one.

        I would interpret the difference like this:

        The author meditates the motif of his next haiku.
        Then a good one comes into his mind.
        Now he is a bit excited and hasty (so the sentence is more colloquial),
        and prepares to write down the haiku.

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