Friday, November 24, 2017

Carpe Diem Weekend-Meditation #8 Free Styling

!! Open for your submissions next Sunday November 26th at 7:00 PM (CET) !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new weekend-meditation here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. This weekend I have something new for you. This weekend-meditation has a twist in it. I will give you only a few themes to work with and you may choose your own Japanese poetry form that's why I titled it "free styling".

Here are the themes you can choose from:

first snow; autumn leaves; sunrays; 
new day rising; Santoka Taneda; 
haibun; troiku

Well ... I think you have enough choices and I hope you will find inspiration to create your Japanese poetry ... go for it ... feel free ... go free styling ... let go of the classic rules ... feel free to choose.

This "free-styling" weekend-meditation is open for your submissions next Sunday November 26th at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until December 3rd at noon (CET). Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wandering Spirit Challenge Special "the pale moon" by Dolores Fegan

Kon'nichiwa Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Several weeks ago I, Yozakura, the Wandering Spirit, asked you to help me to create the daisan of a renga I started creating together with my sensei Basho. This "challenge" was initiated by your host here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, Chèvrefeuille. Together with him I read and re-read all of your wonderful ideas about the daisan. There were several beauties, but the one created by Dolores Fegan was the most beautiful we thought.

As promised when I challenged you, the winner would be featured in a "Wandering Spirit Challenge Special" that Special you are going to find hereafter. Thank you all for your support and creativity. Thank you Dolores for your daisan.




Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Some time ago Yozakura, the Wandering Spirit, asked you to help him and as you all know it was Dolores Fegan's daisan he has chosen to use in the renga he started with Basho.
I think you all know Dolores (Ada's Poetry Alcove) from her wonderful poetry. She is a long time participant (family member) of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. She also was the winner of our "prayers" kukai back in 2016. She was featured in September 2016 and she created a wonderful CDHK E-book titled "First Magnolia Bloom" (click on the title to read it).

Dolores is an awesome haiku poetess, but she also writes wonderful haibun and other poems. The daisan she created shows her skill as a haiku poet and her daisan fits the renga that Yozakura started to create with Basho. I will first give you her daisan and than I will give you the first three (including the daisan) of the renga by Yozakura.

the pale moon hangs
still fresh against the sky
trailing morning glories  

© Dolores Fegan

Morning Glories (woodblock print by Keisai Eisen) (image found on Pinterest)

I think this daisan is really a beauty and I think Basho would like it too. Here are the three first stanza of the renga:

at dawn
birds sing their songs
dewdrops shimmer                        (Yozakura)

cherry blossoms bloom again
shelter for young sparrows            (Basho) 

the pale moon hangs
still fresh against the sky
trailing morning glories                 (Yozakura with the help of Dolores)

The daisan by Dolores fits really great as you all can read. It will not be easy for Yozakura and Basho to go on with this renga they started, but ... well you all know how both poets are great ...

Autumn Leaves (image found on Pinterest)

Okay ... there are wonderful other haiku by Dolores and here is a brief overview:

autumn evening
like whispered prayers
leaves float away

amber petals
set ablaze by evening sun
lighting the garden

summer moonlight
steals my sleep again
I stroll down the lane

winter hunter
stalking the night sky
bow aimed high

my father
points out the night sky
my hand in his

© Dolores Fegan

You can find several more beautiful poems by Dolores in her above mentioned CDHK E-book "First Magnolia Bloom".

I hope you enjoyed this "Wandering Spirit Challenge Special". 

Carpe Diem #1312 The Grape

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This month we are reading "The Rubaiyat" by Omar Khayyam. One of the themes is "wine", the joy of life. And in today's quatrain this theme returns in a very rare way, but also in a wonderful way. In this quatrain Omar Khayyam "becomes completely one with wine" in a certain kind of way.

I am not a drinker of wine, I am more of beer and bourbon, not to much and certainly not every day. Of course I like a cold beer so now and than, after a busy day at work for example, but only if it is the last day of work before a few spare days. I never drink as I have to work.

hot summer night
drinking a cold beer with my love 

ah her sweet perfume

© Chèvrefeuille

Okay ... back to "The Rubaiyat", sorry for leaving the path for a little while. I think the following quatrain is one of the most beautiful quatrains of "The Rubaiyat", in my opinion of course.

Ah, with the Grape my fading Life provide,
And wash my Body whence the life has died,
And in a Winding Sheet of Vine Leaf wrapt,
So bury me by some sweet Gardenside.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)

In a way this verse is somewhat morbide, but it also describes a wonderful funeral. Khayyam says literaly that he wants a funeral in the way of how his life has been.

Drinking Wine in the Garden (Persian art)
Let me give you the background on this quatrain I have praised.

Background: (Source: Bob Forrest)

The meaning is: let me drink Wine while I live, and when I die, wash my body in Wine, give me a Vine Leaf for my shroud, and bury me in a nice Garden somewhere.

Edward Scott Waring, in his book A Tour to Sheeraz, by the Route of Kazroon and Feerozabad (1807), of which FitzGerald had a copy, relates the following:

“Many of the great people keep sets of Georgian boys, who are instructed to sing, to play on various instruments, and perform feats of activity. The Persian songs are very sweet and pathetic; and the music which accompanied their voices I thought to be very good. Their songs are in praise of wine and beauty, mixed with frequent complaints of the cruelty of their mistresses. The following is a specimen of their songs:

Hasten hither, O cup bearer! ere I die;
See that my shroud be made of the leafy vine.
Wash me in rosy wine,*
And scatter my ashes at the door of the tavern.
I am faithful, I am still constant;
Turn not away from me, for I am a suppliant.

The Arabic songs are sung in parts, and much quicker than the Persian time. There are two men at Sheeraz who are considered to be very superior players on an instrument very like a violin; I heard them, and admired them much, but could form no judgment on their performance. These men, and the dancers, drink wine in enormous quantities, and that too publicly.” 

Waring’s footnote (*) reads: “It is the custom in all Mussulman countries to wash the body before it is buried.”

A Tour To Sheeraz by Edward Scott Waring (cover)
FitzGerald used several sources himself to create his translation of "The Rubaiyat" by Omar Khayyam. Of course that's okay, but as we have seen / read, sometimes his translation is very different of other translations. Maybe that has to do with the difficulty of translating Persian to English. 

last breath
autumn leaves the low lands
first Robin spotted

© Chèvrefeuille

We are running towards the end of this wonderful CDHK month. There is just one week to go, so I am busy with the preparations of December 2017. That month will be an awesome month full of quotes taken from the novels by Paulo Coelho, one of my favorite authors (as you already know), in which he shares a lot of his knowledge and insights. His novels all have a certain kind of spirituality and philosophy in it, of course in every novel you can sense his presence. December will be really an awesome month I think. Of course I will bring the weekend=meditations too and our traditional "Seven Days Before Christmas" feature. More to come soon!

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 30th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new weekend-meditation later on.

PS. I have our new exclusive CDHK E-book in tribute of Jane Reichhold almost ready. I hope to make it available for downloading next week. So you have to be patient ...

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Carpe Diem #1311 Moving Finger

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our Haiku Kai were we are exploring Omar Khayyam's "The Rubaiyat" an anthology of quatrains he wrote during his life time. It's incredible that these beauties became known 100 years after his death. Until than no one knew about this artistic background of this great scholar.

Here at CDHK we are gathered all through that same art ... we are all poets, writers, photographers, painters, sculptors and haijin. In the quatrain for today it's all about "writing" and I will try to explain the background of this quatrain together with Bob Forrest, a connoisseur of Omar Khayyam. He wrote a verse to verse essay about "The Rubaiyat", a great source of knowledge which I have used this month. Next to his ideas I also have my own ideas about the meaning of the quatrains.

Let me give you the verse for today:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)

This is my idea about this quatrain's meaning: In this quatrain Omar praises the beauty of writing, but also the "dark side" of writing, because what is written can not be changed and can be explained in several ways. Isn't that what we are seeking for with our haiku? Writing it and hoping it will be great and don't needs revisions?

Goose feather pen

As you know I write my haiku mostly "impromptu", but I also have revised several haiku that I created, not because of tears that washed out the lines, but because I tried to make them better, maybe more complex, maybe to challenge myself to make the haiku more pure, more transparent, more satisfying. Recently I started to create haiku, the experimental way, to paint with a minimum of words. Sometimes I succeeded in that goal, but it isn't easy to "experiment" with haiku.

Let me go back to the idea of revision, as you maybe can remember Basho revised several of his haiku. There are several haiku by Basho known with the same scene in several versions. Maybe you can remember our CDHK month in which we followed in his footsteps ... We walked his "Narrow Road" with joy and the beauty of his haiku. "Narrow Road" however took Basho five years of revision before he was satisfied with it. So ... revising your haiku, tanka or other poem isn't a bad thing. It shows you as the poet who loves to create his / her poems. The poet cherishes the scene he / she loves to share, the poet becomes one with it. Finally the poem is ready ... your poem will whisper that to your heart.

Okay ... back to the background of this quatrain.

Background: (source: bob forrest web)

The meaning is perfectly clear, and powerful in its expression, but why “the Moving Finger” as opposed to the moving Pen? Perhaps the intention is to portray something like a finger tracing out letters in the (shifting) Sands of Time? Or compare the famous Biblical episode of Belshazzar’s Feast in Daniel 5.5, in which “the fingers of a man’s hand” trace out the words MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN (Daniel 5.25) on the wall. At any rate, a Pen does feature in the original Persian verses on which this verse is based. Heron Allen translated one original verse thus:

From the beginning was written what shall be;
Unhaltingly the Pen (writes) and is heedless of good and bad;
On the First Day He appointed everything that must be –
Our grief and our efforts are vain.

A.J.Arberry translated a similar original verse thus:

Nothing becomes different from what the Pen has once written,
and only a broken heart results from nursing grief;
though all your life through you swallow tears of blood
not one drop will be added to the existing score.

This verse is an excellent example of how FitzGerald takes ideas from Omar Khayyam, and then creates something new and powerful from them which at the same time preserves the essence of the original.

This quatrain, incidentally, became the subject of a sermon delivered by a Reverend E.F. Dinsmore, later published in the form of a booklet, The Moving Finger of Omar Khayyam (1909). Rev. Dinsmore approached the verse from a moralistic point of view, arguing that though one could not wash out the errors of the past, by leading a good Christian life one could minimise the errors of the future, and thus to some extent control the Moving Finger.

Dinsmore made a small booklet of his sermon and used the following illustration by Vedder for its cover.

The Moving Finger (by Rev. Dinsmore; cover)
Writing ... is the most beautiful kind of art (in my opinion). I love writing ...

flow like a river
pen moves

© Chèvrefeuille (experimental haiku)

Let your inspiration flow like the ink of a pen, like a finger writing in the sand ... be inspired.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 29th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on. For now ... have fun!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Carpe Diem #1310 Ball Game

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

In an earlier episode I told you about "life as a chess game", but as I was exploring the quatrains I ran into another verse in which life is compared with a game. That verse intrigued me so I just had to share it here with you. By the way there are several other ideas about life and death as a game. There are images of the Devil playing dice or being a street-magician ... all to give an image for life and death. Life and death can not be seen separated, because (as we know from the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying) death belongs to life, without death there is no life.

An image to show you the idea that death uses a game:

The Devil playing Cricket

Here is the quatrain for your inspiration today:

The Ball no Question makes of Ayes and Noes,
But Right or Left as strikes the Player goes;
And He that toss'd Thee down into the Field,
He knows about it all – HE knows – HE knows!

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


Life here is likened to a Ball Game, actually the equivalent of our modern game of Polo. Ayes are votes in favor of a proposal; Noes are votes against. The first line means that the Ball (Man) has no choice (no vote) in the Game (of Life), it just goes here and there according to the whim of the Player who hits it. The reference here is surely to Free Will and Destiny – we are given Life (the Ball), but how much Choice (Free Will) do we really have in it? We are seemingly just bounced from here to there. But though it makes little sense to us, God (He that tossed thee, the ball, down into the playing field) – he knows what it is all about, he knows, HE knows, for He is Omniscient – he just isn't telling US…. (Another interpretation is in terms of the Rules of the Game: the Ball doesn't know the rules, it just goes here and there according to which player hits it where; only He (God) who made up the game knows the Rules, he knows, HE knows….)

Life (and Death) viewed as a game has given rise to many interesting images, here is another image to show you that.

The Devil playing dice
life is but a game
nature rolls the dices

seasons change

© Chèvrefeuille

I think there is another wonderful game, a game I love by the way, that can be seen as the ongoing battle between good and bad or life and death ... I created a tanka about it:

cherry stone clam
delicious for it's taste -
playing Go
the sweet memories of clams
once tasted

© Chèvrefeuille (2013)

Well ... life is a game ... so enjoy it, because life is short ... as is a game with a limited time.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until November 28th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode later on.

PS. At "My Haiku Pond Academy" on Facebook you can find a new contest in which you are challenged to create Troiku. You can visit the CONTEST HERE.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Carpe Diem #1309 Earth's First Clay

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Well ... I don't really know if this quatrain for today will inspire you. At least it didn't inspire me, just because of it's difficulties hidden it. This quatrain tells us about the first man, Adam, created from the Earth's first clay, but with this creation he also created the last man ...

Let me give you the quatrain for today:

With Earth's first Clay They did the Last Man's knead,
And then of the Last Harvest sowed the Seed:
Yea, the first Morning of Creation wrote
What the Last Dawn of Reckoning shall read.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)

modern art: The Creation of Adam

Background: (source: bob forrest web)

This verse can be taken as a pessimistic suspicion that everything is predestined: with the Earth’s first Clay, from which God created (moulded, as a sculpture) the first man, Adam, God also created (“knead” = shape, as in shaping the dough for a loaf of bread) the clay for the Last Man. The second line likens God’s creation of Man to planting a crop: the Harvest at the End of the World is predetermined by the Seed which God planted at the Beginning. The last two lines neatly contrast WRITE at the Creation, with READ at the End (Last Dawn of Reckoning.)

There are similarities in the creation of Adam in several religions, here it's used as in Islam, but also as used in Christianity.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 27th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on. For now ... have fun!

Carpe Diem #1308 A Game of Chess

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I hope you all have had a wonderful inspirational weekend. I had a busy weekend at work, so I hadn't time to publish this regular episode on time. We are going on with our exploration of "The Rubaiyat"  by Omar Khayyam. As I was preparing this episode that I have titled "A Game of Chess" a haiga I created a while ago came in mind. I love to share that haiga here with you, maybe you can remember it.

Haiga "A Game of Chess" (© Chèvrefeuille, 2015)
What has this to do with the inspirational quatrain for today? Well ... in this quatrain Omar Khayyam describes life as a game of chess. Let me give you today's quatrain and than we start "talking" about it.

'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


Life is here likened to a game of Chess or Checkers, the black and white squares of the Chess-board being likened to Nights and Days. Destiny is the player who captures (slays) pieces in the course of the game, removing them from the board and putting them back in the storage box (Closet.) It is Destiny too, who finishes the game – “mates” in Line 3 is “Check Mate” – the term for the end of a Game of Chess. The overall idea is that Destiny kills us all off, one by one.

The related image of Death playing Chess with Mortals to decide where and when they will die is probably best known to most people through Ingmar Bergman’s film “The Seventh Seal” of 1957. What is less well known is that Bergman got the idea for this image from a wall-painting in the medieval church of Täby in Stockholm, dating from the latter half of the 14th century!

Death playing Chess (Medieval church Täby in Stockholm)

The idea that human life is a game of the gods is ancient. Thus, as Canter notes in his article “Fortuna in Latin Poetry”, the goddess Fortuna “delights in mockery and in making man the victim of her sport." Thus, Virgil, in The Aeneid talks of Fortuna mocking mankind by knocking them down then picking them up again, as fancy takes; Horace, in his Odes, talks of Fortuna pursuing her wanton sport by deliberately switching her favours from one person to another; and Juvenal in his Satires talks of Fortuna raising men from the gutter to high office just to amuse herself.

The Roman tragedian Pacuvius, who lived in the 2nd century BC, wrote of the goddess Fortuna as follows:

Dame Fortune, some philosophers maintain,
Is witless, sightless, brutish; they declare
That on a rolling ball of stone she stands;
For whither that same stone a hazard tilts,
Thither, they say, falls Fortune; and they state
That she is witless for that she is cruel,
Untrustworthy, unstaid; and, they repeat
Sightless she is because she nothing sees
Whereto she’ll steer herself: and brutish too
Because she cannot tell between the man
That’s worthy and unworthy. But there are
Other philosophers who against all this
Deny that there is any goddess Fortune,
Saying it is Chance Medley rules the world.
That this is more like unto truth and fact
Practice doth teach us by the experience;
Orestes thus, who one time was a king,
Was one time made a beggar.

(The translation is by E.H.Warmington)

In modern times, Bertrand Russell opened his essay “A Free Man’s Worship”, first published in 1903, with an account of God’s creation of Man, as given by the devil Mephistopheles to Dr. Faustus:

“The endless praises of the choirs of angels had begun to grow wearisome; for after all, did he not deserve their praise? Had he not given them endless joy? Would it not be more amusing to obtain undeserved praise, to be worshipped by beings whom he tortured? He smiled inwardly, and resolved the great drama should be performed.”

Death Playing Chess by Israhel von Meckenem

Omar Khayyam was very lyrical about death and it seems to me that he accepted the idea of "death belonging to life", as we also saw in the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche, (The theme of our first CDHK Theme-week).

game of life and death
like nature

© Chèvrefeuille

I hope you liked this episode and that it will inspire you. This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 27th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on.