After My New Haiku Hero(ine): Chiyo-ni

winter-garlicblackberry bush
the truth is it has more vigour
than me

compost turning
all the little critters
burrow back down

winter —
shrivelled vines but still
bitter red tomatoes

kitchen garden in a garlic head — winter

late night
the old wood stove
whines

winter night
space is completely filled
with magpies’ song

These were inspired by Chiyo-ni. Here are some of her haiku

squatting
the frog observes
the clouds

loneliness
lies within the listener—
a cuckoo’s call

again the women
come to the fields
with unkempt hair

morning glory –
the truth is
the flower hates people

moonflowers —
the beauty
of hidden things

How good are they! She was a Japanese poet of the Edo period and is widely regarded as one of the greatest female haiku poets.

to quote  Kuheli’s at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai: ‘She showed a childhood gift for poetry and had already gained fame for her haiku while she was still a teenager. Her early haiku were influenced by Basho and his students, though … she developed her own unique style. … Her verses were mostly dealing with nature.  In later period of her life, around 1755 Chiyo-ni became a Buddhist nun.’

and from: CHIYO-NI: WOMAN HAIKU MASTER
ed. and trans, with notes by Patricia Donegan & Yoshie Isibashi
Tuttle Publishing, 1998:

‘Basho’s style of haiku was formulated by others over the years. His well known fundamentals usually include: sabi (detached loneliness), wabi (poverty of spirit), hosomi (slenderness, sparseness), shiori (tenderness), sokkyo (spontaneity), makoto (sincerity), fuga (elegance), karumi (simplicity), kyakkan byosha (objectivity), and shiZen to hitotsu ni naru (oneness with nature).’

‘Yet, the most important thing about Chiyo-ni’s haiku, which epitomizes her being true to Basho’s style, is how she actually lived the Way of Haikai, or fuga no michi (the way of refinement in one’s own life and art). With the emphasis on poetry as a way of life, poetry could be a source of awakening.’

‘Chiyo-ni was a master at making connections, by being open and carefully observing the ordinary things around her, especially in nature. Her observation was simple and clear, yet at the same time unique, with its feminine imagery that was delicate and sensual. The most important thing to her was honoring the sacredness of everyday life.’

So much to soak up. I’m inspired.

19 thoughts on “After My New Haiku Hero(ine): Chiyo-ni

  1. I love all of these haiku. They immediately bring pictures and sounds to my mind. Yours add home and garden and hearth to the haiku mix in a lovely way.
    Alice

  2. “kitchen garden in a garlic head — winter”

    While I enjoyed all of your pieces, individuals connected to tell a whole story the garlic one stands out, well because I really enjoy garlic. And it reminds me of the saying that one can see the universe in one’s belly button – because of the connection to life from the womb.

    morning glory –
    the truth is
    the flower hates people

    And this is one that I chuckled at from the haiku Mistress. Not everything on earth has to like humans.

    Thank you for the added information. I have copy and pasted links and information so I can come back to it all at my leisure. You are amazing!

    1. She is amazing. and she was big on connections so if you are reminded of your holy belly button, I may have honoured her!
      The info is great isn’t it? When I read it I just had to share. It seems so much the point of haiku to me.
      I love the morning glory poem too. Here it can be SUCH a weed taking over whole buildings and tracts of land. But what a colour!

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