Still Not Dead: Taneda Santōka (種田山頭火)

ふるさとの土の底から鉦たたき

From deep beneath
my hometown soil
a gong is struck

へそが汗ためてゐる

Sweat collects
in my belly button

咳がやまない背中をたたく手がない

Can’t stop coughing
No hand to tap me on the back

夕立が洗つていつた茄子をもぐ

Chewing on eggplant
washed clean by rain

春の雪ふる女はまことうつくしい

Spring snowfall
She is truly
a beautiful woman

けふもいちにち誰も来なかつたほうたる

No one came by today, either,
little firefly

月かげのまんなかをもどる

returning
to the center
of the moonlight

よい道がよい建物へ、焼場です

A pleasant road
leads to a pleasant building,
a crematorium

しぐるるや死なないでゐる

drizzling rain —
I’m not dead yet

NOTES:

Taneda Santōka (1882-1940) was an early free-form haiku poet, a contemporary of Ogiwara Seisensui and Ozaki Hōsai. His given name was Taneda Shōichi (種田正一), but like most (if not all) Japanese haiku poets (俳人, haijin) he gave himself a haiku pseudonym (俳号, haigou). Santōka (山頭火) means “fire on the mountain.”

I hope that you have enjoyed taking this little walk with me and Santōka. But now I think it’s time to let him walk the mountains alone, once again, with the insects.

All poems taken from the Gendai Haiku Association Database (現代俳句協会, Modern Haiku Association)

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