A Poem by Taneda Santoka

when there are mountains I look at the mountains
when it rains I listen to the rain
spring summer autumn winter
and tomorrow will be fine
and last night was fine, too

山あれば山を観る
雨の日は雨を聴
春夏秋冬
あしたもよろし
ゆふべもよろし

NOTE: Original found here– http://terebess.hu/english/haiku/taneda.html

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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)

Sleeping with Crickets: Taneda Santōka (種田山頭火)

月夜、あるだけの米をとぐ

A moonlit night,
washing all the rice

病めば梅ぼしのあかさ

sick,
red like
pickled plum

笠も漏りだしたか

Is my straw hat
leaking, too?

酔ふてこほろぎと寝てゐたよ

drunk,
I slept
with the crickets

飲みたい水が音をたててゐた

So thirsty,
the sound of water
rises up around me

鴉とんでゆく水をわたらう

A crow flies
over the water

うどん供へて母よ、わたしもいただきまする

Offering up udon
Mother,
I’ll have some, too

おちついて死ねそうな草萌ゆる

Don’t worry
The dead-seeming grass
will spring to life

NOTES:

Taneda Santōka (1882-1940) was an early free-form haiku poet, a contemporary of Ogiwara Seisensui and Ozaki Hōsai. He became a monk after a failed suicide attempt and spent much of his time walking across Japan, making the pilgrimage to the eighty-eight temples or following in the footsteps of Basho. He published several books of poetry before passing away in his sleep at the age of fifty-seven.

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

Walking: Free-Form Haiku by Taneda Santōka (種田山頭火)

木の葉散る歩きつめる

Tree leaves fall
Walking just to walk

まつすぐな道でさみしい

The road ahead
is lonesome

あるけばかつこういそげばかつこう

walking,
downhill
running,
downhill

この道しかない春の雪ふる

This is the only road
Snowfall in spring

笠にとんぼをとまらせてあるく

A dragonfly
on my straw hat,
I walk on

ほうたるこいこいふるさとにきた

Firefly, come, come
We’ve made it to my hometown

雨ふるふるふるさとははだしであるく

rain falls and falls
walking barefoot
through my hometown

ビルとビルとのすきまから見えて山の青さよ

In the cracks between the buildings
I can see the blue of the mountains

ほととぎすあすはあの山こえて行かう

Cuckoo,
tomorrow let’s climb
over that mountain

ふくろふはふくろふでわたしはわたしでねむれない

The owl, being an owl,
and I, being me,
can’t sleep

どうしようもないわたしが歩いてゐる

Nothing else I can do
I’ll just keep on walking

NOTES:

Taneda Santōka (1882-1940) was an early free-form haiku poet. Unlike traditional haiku, free-form haiku (新傾向, shinkeikou) does not require seventeen sounds or seasonal words (季語, kigo).

I have translated a few of Santōka’s poems in previous posts, so please look for them. There will be more to come.

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

A Cup Full of Free-form Haiku

春の日暮れへ行方不明になった機関車

–飯島翆壺洞

A locomotive
mysteriously vanished
into the spring sunset

–Iijima 翆壺洞

鶺鴒の胸の白さと春の白雲と

–青木此君楼

And the white of the wagtail’s breast
And the white clouds of spring

–Aoki Shikunrou

月が昇れりわがまへの花ひらくべし

–種田山頭火

The moon rises
A flower blooming
Before my eyes

–Taneda Santoka

雀のあたたかさ握るはなしてやる

–尾崎放哉

Grab hold
of the sparrow’s warmth
then let it go

–Ozaki Hosai

木を挽けば鳩の声木を挽けば

–和田光利

If you cut down the trees
The singing of the doves
If you cut down the trees

–Wada Akitoshi

赤い郵便車とまつたポストと冬の雲

–秋山秋紅蓼

A red mail truck
stopped at the postbox
Winter clouds

–Akiyama Shuukouryou (Shūkōryō)

雪が好き想像妊娠かも知れぬ

–三樹雄

I love the snow
Maybe this is a false pregnancy

–Mikio

Three Free-form Haiku

こだま
「おーい」と淋しい人
「おーい」と淋しい山

— 荻原井泉水

Echo

“He~ey” said the lonely human
“He~ey” said the lonely mountain

— Ogiwara Seisensui

せきをしてもひとり

— 尾崎放哉

I even cough
alone

— Ozaki Hosai

もりもりもりあがる雲へ歩む

— 種田山頭火

rising high high higher
walking toward the clouds

— Taneda Santoka

Four Free-form Haiku by Taneda Santoka

つかれた脚へとんぼとまった

A dragonfly landed
at my weary feet

雨だれの音も年とった

Even the sound
of the rain
has grown old

何を求める風の中ゆく

Whatever you wish for
blows away in the wind

窓あけて窓いっぱいの春

Open the window
and the window
is filled with Spring

— 種田山頭火 (Taneda Santoka)