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.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Carpe Diem Weekend-Meditation #7 Tan Renga Challenge "the last colorful leaves"

!! Open for your submissions Sunday November 19th at 7:00 PM (CET) !!!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new weekend-meditation here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, the place to be if you like to write and share Japanese poetry.

This weekend I love to challenge you with Tan Renga, that nice tanka-like poem created by two poets. The goal is to write the second stanza towards a given haiku, to create a Tan Renga. This weekend however I have one with a twist for you too.

For the first Tan Renga I will give you the first stanza (the haiku), a haiku by Matsuo Basho:

deep silence
the shrill of cicadas
seeps into rocks

© Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694)

But for the second Tan Renga I will give you the second stanza of two lines, to this Tan Renga you have to create the first stanza, the haiku. Here is the 2nd stanza for the second Tan Renga:

soft winter breeze cherishes
the last colorful leaves   

© Chèvrefeuille

So let me give you a brief explanation for this weekend-meditation. The goal is to complete two Tan Renga. One by completing the first stanza with a second stanza and the other Tan Renga you have to complete by putting the first stanza of three (3) lines towards it.

To conclude this episode I have an announcement to make:

Today starts the My Haiku Pond Academy Contest Troiku, I will be the Judge of this contest. You can find this CONTEST HERE.

This weekend-meditation is open for your submissions next Sunday November 19th at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until November 26th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode around 7:00 PM (CET) next Sunday. For now ... have fun!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Carpe Diem #1307 The Vessel

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's a little bit sad day today. I failed an exam I had today, but well it's not something to worry about. I will make it again on another day. Now I only have my thoughts at this episode. What can I tell you about this quatrain? It's the sequel of the verse of yesterday. These two verses are connected and I will try to explain that with a little help of bob forrest, who wrote a verse to verse explanation of "The Rubaiyat". It's that explanation I used this month already in all the episodes. Before I had heard about "The Rubaiyat", I really hadn't a clue what a quatrain was or who Omar Khayyam was so I just needed a suitable source of information. It took me some time to find the verse to verse explanation, but I am glad that I found it. "The Rubaiyat" is a wonderful compilation of quatrains with a whole lot of hidden layers, without the verse to verse explanation I couldn't make this month.

Omar Khayyam
Let me give you the quatrain for your inspiration:

I think the Vessel, that with fugitive
Articulation answered, once did live,
And merry-make; and the cold Lip I kiss'd
How many Kisses might it take - and give !

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


“The Vessel” here is the earthen bowl of the previous verse. The lip of the bowl becomes the lip of someone once living, and thus once capable of giving kisses.

The idea that, on death, we return to earth or clay from which can be made a Vessel/ Cup/Bowl is but one idea. Another idea is that our clay may become that of simple building bricks. Thus, for example, Hafiz wrote that “this ruined world is resolved, when we are dead, to make only bricks of our clay!” (from Ode VI in the translation by Cowell).

It's a joy to read again a "note" to an other Persian poet, Hafiz, in this explanation. Hafiz is one of my favorite Persian poets and I even think he is also the most loved Persian poet all around the globe. In the poems by Hafiz we found also several hidden layers.

Hafiz quote
In Christian tradition the phrase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”, is common use in the tradition of a funeral, but it isn’t a phrase in the Holy Scripture it is based on Genesis 3:19, Genesis 18:27, Job 30:19, and Ecclesiastes 3:20. Those passages say that we begin and end as dust.

So is there also a reference to Christian belief in this quatrain by Omar Khayyam? Maybe it is, maybe it is not. I don’t know. However I like the idea that we can find references to Christian belief in a Persian compilation of verses.

smoke rises
from the pyre
to Heaven

© Chèvrefeuille (experimental haiku)

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 23rd at noon (CET). I will publish our new "weekend-meditation" later on. For now ... have fun!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Carpe Diem #1306 The Secret Well of Life

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our Haiku Kai were we are exploring the beauty of Omar Khayyam's "The Rubaiyat" as translated by FitzGerald. "The Rubaiyat" is a compilation of 100 quatrains, but as I told you earlier this month, "The Rubaiyat" is just a small part of Khayyam's quatrains, he created around 2000 quatrains.

Today's episode I have titled "The Secret Well of Life". In my opinion "the secret well of life" is similar with the "Elixer of Life" as was the goal for the Alchemists. They not only were searching for the "Stone" to create gold, but also for the "Elixer of Life". If this is true for this quatrain we will see.

As I was preparing this month I read "The Rubaiyat" and there were several quatrains in which Khayyam uses "earthen bowls" or "pots". In this quatrain that's also a theme.

Earthen Pots (this is one of the first logos I used by the way)
Let me give you the quatrain for today and after that the background (source: bob forrest):

Then to this earthen Bowl did I adjourn
My Lip the secret Well of Life to learn:
And Lip to Lip it murmured - "While you live
Drink ! - for once dead you never shall return.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


This is the first of many references to earthen bowls or pots, which for Omar Khayyam are both drinking vessels and symbolic of people (via Adam being made from clay or earth; hence earth to earth, ashes to ashes etc.) In some cases, he pictures the Clay from which an Earthen Vessel is made as being that formed from the body of some long-dead person which has turned back into earth again. Here, in drinking from the bowl, the poet’s lip presses on the lip of the bowl. Here again we have Omar’s philosophy, repeated throughout the poem, but here expressed by the earthen wine bowl, “Drink! – for once dead you never shall return!”

The following lines by Hafiz involve not only the image of the cup of mortal clay touching the lips of the living, but also other Omarian images of the transience of Kings and of flowers growing from the dust of the dead or from their spilt blood. The translation is from Gertrude Bell's Poems from the Divan of Hafiz (1897), poem 26:

...Time's revolving sphere
Over a thousand lives like thine has rolled.
That cup within thy fingers, dost not hear
The voices of dead kings speak through the clay?
Kobad, Bahman, Djemshid, their dust is here.
'Gently upon me set thy lips!' they say.

What man can tell where Kaus and Kai have gone?
Who knows where even now the restless wind
Scatters the dust of Djem's imperial throne?
And where the tulip, following close behind
The feet of Spring, her scarlet chalice rears,
There Ferhad for the love of Sherin pined,
Dyeing the desert red with his tears.

© Hafiz

(The forbidden love between the lowly Ferhad and the princess Sherin is an old Persian love story. Ferhad killed himself in the desert when he was tricked into believing that Sherin was dead. Hearing of Ferhad's death, Sherin also killed herself, and subsequently the two were buried together.)

Ferhad and Shirin (a Persian lovestory)

The Persian love-story about Ferhad and Shirin is similar with that tragedy created by Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet. It's a forbidden love, because Shirin is a princess and Ferhad is just a low-ranked man. As Ferhad dies, Shirin takes her own life, because she cannot live with Ferhad.

The title of this episode is extracted from the quatrain used and it can also refer to that strong love as mentioned in the story of Ferhad and Shirin. Isn't love the secret well of life?

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 22nd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on. For now ... have fun!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Carpe Diem #1305 No Key

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our Haiku Kai. This month it's all about "The Rubaiyat" by the Persian poet and scholar Omar Khayyam. In this 'book' we read quatrains, say about 100 of them, but Khayyam wrote more than 2000 quatrains, however this month we will only look at "The Rubaiyat". The translations I use are by FitzGerald, who published the first English edition of "The Rubaiyat" in the 19th century. FitzGerald gave this selection the title "The Rubaiyat" which means "quatrains".

The Rubaiyat, one of the more recent prints
Todays quatrain (no. 32) is the sequel to the verse of yesterday. Today's episode I have titled "No Key", because it refers to the essence of this verse.

Maybe you can remember that we read "Aleph" by Paulo Coelho while on the Trans Siberian Railroad. In "Aleph" Paulo is on a quest to find his former life. He dreams sometimes of a place with several doors. Those doors cannot open cmpletely, or even not opened at all. There is No Key. "No Key" is something we see and hear regular in spirituality. "No Key" to open the door, the path and more.
In this 32th quatrain that's the essence of the verse ... not all can be opened ...

Here is the quatrain to work with today:

There was a Door to which I found no Key:
There was a Veil past which I could not see:
Some little Talk awhile of ME and THEE
There seemed – and then no more of THEE and ME.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)

closed door

The Door and Veil are metaphorical barriers which prevent us from seeing the answer to the riddle of human Death and Fate. The idea seems to be that while the mysterious voices behind these barriers talk about us, we live; but once they stop talking, we must die. It is interesting that in Islam, “…death is believed to be a door to the realm of the afterlife, which according to Islamic tradition starts with the grave.” It is interesting, too, that “the Veil” is a term commonly used by Spiritualists to describe the supposed barrier that exists between the spirit world and the land of the living.

As I look at this background (source: Bob Forrest) then something is coming to my attention. Omar Khayyam, was not only a poet and scholar, but also a philosopher. In this quatrain he shows us who he looks at the spirit world. As a mystery, something that we can not catch. Another thing which caught my attention is that in the Qu'ran, as it seems, there is also an idea about the afterlife. It is seen as a realm, but that realm we only can reach through opening the door to the grave. That's also the idea about afterlife in Christian tradition. As I was reading this quatrain I thought immediately that Khayyam had questions about the afterlife, he shows that through the use of "the veil" in this verse. "The Veil" between life and death. Can it be that he questioned the afterlife, if that was really the end? Or was he thinking that there had to be something else ... reincarnation for example.

The Veil? The ethereal 4th dimension? Afterlife? Reincarnation?
behind the veil
mystery awaits
new life?

© Chèvrefeuille (experimental haiku)

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 21st at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Carpe Diem #1304 The Seventh Gate

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As I was preparing this month, by reading the entire "Rubaiyat" there were several quatrains I didn't understand. Those quatrains sounded magical and mysterious. Today's quatrain is such a quatrain which I couldn't understand at first, but after reading the background on this verse it became very clear what the meaning was of this quatrain. This quatrain gives you in words a visual of the Universe as was thought about in the time of Khayyam.
Nowadays we know that the sun is the center of our Universe, but in the time of Khayyam everyone thought that the Earth was the center of the Universe. Omar Khayyam as an astronomer however had already ideas about our Universe ... in his idea the sun was the center of the Universe, so he was far ahead of his time.

The Universe
Let me give you the verse for today ... it's again a nice one, but the choice of words sounds magical and mysterious in my opinion.

Up from Earth's Centre through the seventh Gate
I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate,
And many Knots unravel'd by the Road;
But not the Knot of Human Death and Fate.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


Above I already gave a kind of explanation of this quatrain. I think this background (source: Bob Forrest web) will give you all a better explanation of this quatrain.

At the time of Omar Khayyam, the Earth was generally believed to be at the centre of the universe, and surrounded by seven spheres associated with the then known seven planets. In order of distance from the Earth, the spheres were those of: (1) The Moon, (2) Mercury, (3) Venus, (4) the Sun, (5) Mars, (6) Jupiter, (7) Saturn. The sense of this verse is that the Poet ascended to the outermost sphere of the universe so that he could view the whole “from the outside”, and though this journey made many things clear to him, he could still not see the answer to the riddle of human Death and Fate.

The Ancient Idea Of The Universe, The Flower Of Life

It is sometimes said that Omar Khayyam, as an astronomer, was ahead of his time, and advocated a Sun-centred model of the Universe rather than the more ‘obvious’ Earth-centred one, but this verse does seem to be Earth-centred. Of course, this is FitzGerald’s translation, and is a poetic reference rather than an astronomical one. Nevertheless, more literal translations of the Persian also seem to be Earth-centred. Thus Edward Heron-Allen gives, “From the Nadir of the earthly globe, up to the Zenith of Saturn”; and Edward Henry Whinfield, “down from Saturn’s wreath, unto this lowly sphere of Earth beneath.” 

at sunrise
birds praising their Creator
without questions

© Chèvrefeuille

Let me give you a brief explanation of this haiku. We humans are always searching for answers, we have thousand questions, we want to know everything, but birds never question their existence and praise their Creator every day again. Isn't that awesome ... !?

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 20th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Carpe Diem #1303 Seed of Wisdom

!! Sorry for being this late with publishing !!!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our wonderful daily meme here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, the place to be if you like to write and share Japanese poetry. A warmhearted family of lovers of Japanese poetry.
We are busy with the exploration of Omar Khayyam's "The Rubaiyat" and until today I think it is a joy to read your responses on all these beautiful quatrains.

Our episode's title "seed of wisdom" is extracted from the 28th quatrain from "The Rubaiyat" and I love to tell you a little bit more about the "seed of wisdom". On several occasions I was adressed as "sensei" or "master", but in my opinion that's to much honor. I am only a guy who loves to share a little bit of his knowledge about haiku, tanka and other Japanese poetry forms. Of course there was once a seed planted, I think in my case, that was somewhere in the late eighties as I discovered haiku. I was immediately caught by this wonderful tiny poem from the Far East. I studied several books about this poetry form and as I started CDHK in 2012 I was a connaisseur of haiku and later on I also became addicted to Tanka and studied that form too. And than ... there is of course my own philosophy in which "unconditional love for all and everything" is the most important idea. That "seed of wisdom" was planted back in the time I was a teenager, in that time I ran into the occult and was caught by it. It made me sick and it took a while to become free again, but in that time I found the reason of my life here on earth, I found the wisdom I needed ... I even gave word to it in one of the novels I have written ... the "seed of wisdom" has bloomed and still blossoms further ...

Seed Of Wisdom
Here is the quatrain to work with. I will of  course give you also a little bit background on this quatrain.

With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow;
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd--
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


The development of the Poet’s philosophical studies are likened to a crop – seed, growth, harvest – and yet the end result is the realisation of the utter transience of earthly life, and the pointlessness of philosophising: “I came like Water, and like Wind I go”. Compare the reference to the Wind in John 3.8 (“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth…”); also the epitaph on the tomb of the poet John Keats in Rome: “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.”

Much less well known than the epitaph of Keats is the following verse by John Masefield, typewritten on a piece of paper addressed to his "Heirs, Administrators and Assigns", and found only after his death in 1967. Curiously, it asks that Water and Wind be allowed to disperse his ashes after cremation:

Let no religious rite be done or read
In any place for me when I am dead,
But burn my body into ash, and scatter
The ash in secret into running water,
Or on the windy down, and let none see;
And then thank God that there's an end of me.

Westminster Abbey London England

He didn't get his wish, of course - as Poet Laureate he was doomed to have his ashes interred in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, amidst traditional pomp and ceremony. Also ignored were his wishes regarding publication of his life and letters, as expressed in a short poem entitled "Sweet Friends", which poem became the last in the edition of the Collected Poems of John Masefield, first published by Heinemann in 1923:

Print not my life nor letters; put them by:
When I am dead let memory of me die.
Blessed be those who in their mercy heed
This heartfelt prayer of mine to Adam's Seed;
Blessed be they, but may a curse pursue
All who reject this living prayer, and do.

I like to explore the background of these quatrains by Omar Khayyam, but of course I have my sources to share this background with you all.

sunflowers bloom
seed of wisdom spread out
a new day rises

© Chèvrefeuille

Sorry for being late. This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 19th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on. I am on the nightshift so I hope to be on time tomorrow.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Wandering Spirit Challenge #1 daisan

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

A few weeks ago I asked your help with writing the daisan (third verse) for a renga which I, Yozakura, am writing together with my sensei Basho. He asked me to create the third verse with the moon as kigo. I had difficulties with creating that verse and so asked your help.

Together with Chèvrefeuille, your host, I have chosen for the daisan written by Dolores Fegan. We thought that verse fits the best. Let me give you the three first verses, including the daisan, here:

at dawn
birds sing their songs
dewdrops shimmer

cherry blossoms bloom again
shelter for young sparrows

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

I think this daisan gives Basho the possibility to create the next stanza. Thank you all for your help and Dolores ... congratulations. Chèvrefeuille will create a special Wandering Spirit episode in which your work will be highlighted.

Katajike nai, thank you

Carpe Diem Extra November 11th 2017 - judging "departure" kukai starts today

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It has taken some time, but today the judging is open for the "departure" kukai. You can find the submitted haiku for this "departure" kukai above in the menu or by clicking HERE.

There were 7 contestants who have written / submitted 18 haiku. It's not a long list this time. I don't feel the urge to create a new kukai at the moment, but that's more because of the low range of submissions this time.

The judging is open until November 25th at 10:00 PM (CET)


Chèvrefeuille, your host

Friday, November 10, 2017

Carpe Diem weekend-meditation #6 Kamishibai challenge "sunflower"

!!! Open for your submissions Sunday November 12th at 7:00 PM (CET) !!!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new weekend-meditation here at our Haiku Kai. This week's weekend-meditation I have a nice challenge for you ... a haibun ... Maybe you are a long-time participant of CDHK and than you will remember that we had a special feature titled "Kamishibai". That special feature was about haibun (prose and haiku). Let me tell you a little bit more about "Kamishibai" first.

Kamishibai (紙芝居), literally "paper drama", is a form of storytelling that originated in Japanese Buddhist temples in the 12th century, where monks used emakimono (picture scrolls) to convey stories with moral lessons to a mostly illiterate audience.
Kamishibai endured as a storytelling method for centuries, but is perhaps best known for its revival in the 1920s through the 1950s. The gaito kamishibaiya, or kamishibai storyteller, rode from village to village on a bicycle equipped with a small stage. On arrival, the storyteller used two wooden clappers, called hyoshigi, to announce his arrival. Children who bought candy from the storyteller got the best seats in front of the stage. Once an audience assembled, the storyteller told several stories using a set of illustrated boards, inserted into the stage and withdrawn one by one as the story was told. The stories were often serials and new episodes were told on each visit to the village.

Kamishibai performer
It's similar with haibun, but there is a difference. In haibun the poet describes his / her "adventures", like e,g, Basho did in his "Oku No Hosomichi" (Small Road Into The Deep North) in words, the Kamishibai-performer tells stories.

I love to challenge you this weekend to create / write a haibun, but there are a few rules:

First I will give you a haiku which you have to use, of course you can include a few other haiku created by yourself, but the given haiku (or an interpretation or revision of that haiku) you have to use.
Second The classical rules, for haiku, are to be used. Those rules you can find above in the menu in CD Lecture 1
Third Your haibun may have a maximum of 250 words (including the haiku).

"broken" sunflower

To give you a little bit more 'freedom' I have two haiku for you from which you can choose:

blooming sunflowers
reaching for the early light of the sun -
birds praise their Creator

© Chèvrefeuille

Or this one, also created by me:

broken sunflower
seeds spread all around his stem;
bringing joy next year

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... I hope you all have a wonderful weekend full of inspiration. Enjoy your weekend. This weekend-meditation is open for your submissions next Sunday November 12th at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until November 19th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, another nice quatrain written by Omar Khayyam, next Sunday around 7:00 PM (CET).

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Carpe Diem #1302 past regrets and future fears

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Another day has gone and here I am again, after a bad day of sleep, because I am on the nightshift, to create a new episode in our wonder Haiku Kai were we are a loving family of haiku poets. That love makes me proud. Five years ago I started CDHK and here we are still alive and kicking better than ever.

This month it's all about "The Rubaiyat" by Omar Khayyam, a 12th century Persian poet and scholar. It's his legacy we are using this month. Through his quatrains we get a glimpse of the time he lived in. And even today his work still renown and loved as we can see this month.

Omar Khayyam (image found on Pinterest)
Today I have another beautiful quatrain for you to work with. In this quatrain one of the themes of "The Rubaiyat" returns again, wine and drinking it. In one of the earlier episodes I shared already a few quatrains in which this theme is mentioned.

Let me give you the quatrain for today:

Ah! my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
TO-DAY of past Regrets and future Fears –
To-morrow? – Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n Thousand Years.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


“The Cup that clears” = a glass of wine; the meaning is not unlike drinking to drown one’s sorrows over past regrets and future fears. The end of the verse seems to mean something like “tomorrow, the ‘me’ of today will just be another part of history”. According to some, in Omar Khayyam’s day, “yesterday’s 7000 years” was reckoned to be the number of years of human history that had elapsed since the creation of Adam and Eve, though FitzGerald, in his first edition, thought it signified 1000 years for each of the 7 planets.


Any reference to tomorrows and yesterdays almost inevitably recalls that famous speech from Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5) beginning:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.

As I read this quatrain I immediately became in touch with it. The scene described in  "the Cup that clears TO-DAY of past Regrets and future Fears" is recognizable. I think we all can relate to that scene. There was a time I drank to much to forget my sorrows, my problems ..., but there is always a way out. I "survived" that time through the (unconditional) love of my family and friends. There even came a day that I decided to never drink again. Of course a great goal to strive for, but a nice cold beer now and than I can really appreciate.

splash into wine

© Chèvrefeuille (experimental haiku)

A short episode maybe, but in it is a whole story to relate to, and I even think it's one of the quatrains that for sure can inspire you in a great way.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 16th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, a new weekend-meditation, later on. Have fun!