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


From deep beneath
my hometown soil
a gong is struck


Sweat collects
in my belly button


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


Chewing on eggplant
washed clean by rain


Spring snowfall
She is truly
a beautiful woman


No one came by today, either,
little firefly


to the center
of the moonlight


A pleasant road
leads to a pleasant building,
a crematorium


drizzling rain —
I’m not dead yet


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)

3 thoughts on “Still Not Dead: Taneda Santōka (種田山頭火)

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