Friday, July 18, 2008

Gardenias in bloom

While we are on the topic of literature, I have been wanting to share this. 3 weeks ago, cloudnine, moichan and I attended a salon lecture on ‘The Charm of Japanese Prose and Poetry : an Overview of the Literary Culture’. Now, you’re probably wondering what does a foreigner like me know anything about Japanese literature, let alone poetry! Hahaha, believe it or not, the lecturer himself is also a gaijin (Japanese word for foreigner), British to be exact. Mark Buckton is the editor of a few cultural magazines on Noh, Kabuki, sumo and has studied both classic and modern Japanese literature.

I was taken through a journey on Japanese literary history and the distinct characteristics of each era, its prominent scholars and their representative works :

~ Ancient diary-form of pillow books
~ the Kamakura-Samurai era of Noh and novels
~ the Edo period cultural evolution of Kabuki and birth of Haiku poetry(俳句)
~ the Meiji period of literary explosion and foreign influx
~ the modern Showa period with Nobel prize novelist Yasunari Kawabata(川端康成) and the equally famous but controversial Yukio Mishima(三島由紀夫)

Hmmm why do I always do this? This post starts out as a tribute to a beautiful *Haiku poem written by moichan (* Haiku is a poetic style of 5-7-5 syllables formation. The themes mainly are on nature, feelings or experiences, its challenge is to project an imagery to convey a deeper message) and now you see, I am babbling away again!

Like cloudnine, moichan is a gentle and caring Japanese sister whom I feel very comfortable when around her. Every word that comes out from her is of kindness and wisdom. That day, she gave me a token of summer greetings – this cute fish-mobile card :

But the magic is on the envelope! She has attached her Haiku poem and a picture of pure gardenia, so exquisite!

Her poem is written as this .......

empty house
hundreds of gardinias are in bloom

Later, moichan wrote to me about her poem .......

"I wanted to express two emotions in it.
1) loneliness of the gardenias left behind and the shack deserted
2) wonder of the cycle of the seasons; when time comes, nature
does everything it is supposed to so, regardless of the change
of human surroundings.

To be honest, the Haiku poem needs a basic mental framework of Japanese to appreciate more. However, international Haiku in English is getting more popular and recognized globally. So I think it has something common or universal to share with."

Dear moichan, since you wrote this after our Yong Joon has left Japan. May I interpret the ‘empty house’ as Japan and the ‘gardenias’ as his loving family? We blossomed into fragrant flowers when the prince was here, but now we are left in solitude as if the ‘life and spirit’ of a house is gone?

Moichan has also chosen another poem on the envelope for my reading pleasure. This is probably the most famous Haiku around, composed by Matsuo Bashō, a pioneer and master of Japanese poetry .......

古池や 蛙飛込む 水の音
a frog jumps
into the old pond

You can almost picture the disturbance caused to the tranquil atmosphere, or maybe even hear the sound of water splashing?

But I really like Bashō’s Haiku for Mt. Fuji, I can imagine the magnificence and beauty of Fujisan in winter .......

ひと尾根は しぐるる雲か 不二の雪
over one ridge
do I see winter rain clouds?
snow for Mt. Fuji

I hope you enjoy reading these enchanting poems and feel the sensitivity of the imagery. Hehe, but as I told moichan, I like her Haiku the best because it ushers me into such a beautiful and sad mood longing for our Yonsama. Thanks for letting me to share your creation here, moichan!


Anonymous said...

Dear Jaime:
This is one of the best papers you have ever written. It is very spontaneous and sincere. Of course, after you have attended such a comprehensive lecture on Japanese Literature by a Western scholar (I envy you), we look forward to your eventually writing about the history of Japanese literature, era by era. That would be a good project, and you can mediate with Yonsama.
Thanks for the shared experience.
Sarang Hamnida,

Anonymous said...

Dear jaime,

Thank you for posting my poor Haiku
in your creative blog. Oh you are
so sharp to have interpreted it in that innovative way.Yes,I too,feel
Japan is a deserted house while we
might be compared to gardinias missing him a lot.I was amazed at your deep appreciation and rich imagination.
Honestly,Haiku is too short to covey what we want to express fully
and it's complete realm of imagery.
So It's sometimes vague and up to individual imagination.

It's been too hot to go out in the daytime.So we enjoy evening walk
chanting Chinese poems somtimes.

Have wonderful summer !


Anonymous said...

It's soooo beautiful moichan, Jaime's interpretation makes it more sentimental.
Thanks ladies for this beautiful posting and have a nice summer.
I am seeing you beautiful ladies, walking in a beautiful Japanese gardens chanting poems ..... what a tranquil moment!


Anonymous said...

Hi Jaime,

Your post makes me forget about this heat. I also enjoyed reading the previous one: Fairy-Literature,
thogh I'm not familiar with the novels with fairies. So when my hubby and I watched 'Never Land' on TV, the other day I was able to appreciate it even more. What a good timing.

Wow I didn't have a slight idea that moichan's haiku was associated with HRH, my poor imagination!! So are we gardenias, one of my favorite flowers? I really like this thought. My father made a lot of haiku, many of them were related to his family...I miss him.

Btw who is playing this beautiful music? Is it Hideki Togi?
I think I hear the sound of 'shou', Japanese traditinal musical instrument for court music.

cloud nine

jaime said...

Hi Josephine,

Thanks for your encouragement. Unlike moichan and cloudnine, I really know nothing about Japanese Literature, but I am defintely very interested. Yes, I think getting myself familiarized with Japanese history is a good start. So many things I want to learn, so little time :)

Thanks for your comment.

regards ... jaime

jaime said...

Dear moichan,

Thanks for your comments. I do not deserve the nice words but I am very grateful to have the chance to post your poem. I realy think your great work speaks for itself, the atmosphere and feelings it emits.

Please take care in this hot summer.

love ... jaime

jaime said...

Dear Yee,

Hehe, I think I will have to ask moichan to show us her Chinese poetry collection :) I don't remember too many Chinese poems anymore. Shall we go to some beautiful Japanese gardens when you are here? It might be covered in snow then.

love ... jaime

jaime said...

Yes dear cloudnine,

The music is by Hideki Togi, it's so beautiful right? I remember cc loves it very much. I have yet to explore his music, wonder when is his concert?

Jaa, does your husband like 'Neverland'? Is that the latest version you saw?

love ... jaime