Three Basho Haiku
My family has many ties to Japan. Two of my uncles spent many years there, one training in Zen Buddhism and another studying Chinese Philosophy, marrying my Aunt Yoko, and beginning their family in Toyohashi. Growing up, before the email age, we wrote letters back and forth and got so excited when we saw an envelope in the mail with an international stamp on it. When they came to visit, they taught us Japanese phrases, introduced us to their Japanese movies and TV shows, and my Aunt dressed us up in her kimonos and taught us how to make sushi, fold origami, and eat with chopsticks.
I was drawn to these three haiku by their emotional content and striking natural imagery. "harvest moon" conjures the image of a large, orange moon rising in the autumn sky. "first winter rain" gently likens the ending of the year with the waning of life, prompting the search for the comfort of companionship. "this fragrance" relates the experience of a particular scent awakening emotions and memories. Thanks to my Uncle Ken Harvey for helping me with the translations.
Three Basho Haiku is the winner of the 2021 Iowa Composers Forum/Iowa Choral Director's Association Composition Competition.
Texts by Basho, English translations by Lisa Neher with the assistance of Ken and Yoko Harvey
I. harvest moon
rising to my gate
the cresting tide
II. first winter rain
just for today
let's grow old together
first winter rain
III. this fragrance
i don't know
which tree's blossom it comes from