Haiku of Masaoka Shiki


Masaoka Shiki is one of my favorite haiku poets.

Masaoka Shiki or Tsunenori (1867-1902) was a master haiku and tanka poet born in Matsuyama, Japan. His father served the Matsuyama domain in the lower rank of samurai. When he was twenty-two, he began coughing up blood and adopted the pen name “Shiki”, the name of a bird that,according to legend, coughs blood as it sings. He reformed haiku through the introduction of a new style of haiku based on “Shasei” or sketches from life.

furusato wa itoko no ooshi momo no hana

my hometown
many cousins —
peach blossoms

nakiyamete tobutoki semi no miyuru nari

the singing stopped
a flying cicada
I saw it!

gojo arite nochi no otoko ya hatsunobori

It’s a boy
after five daughters
carp streamers

furusato ya oya sukoyakani sushi no aji

my hometown
parents are well
taste of sushi

nowaki no yo fumi yomu kokoro sadamarazu

on a stormy night
while reading a book
wavering mind

samukeredo sake mo ari yu mo aru tokoro

it is cold, but
we have sake
and the hot spring

kuroki madeni murasaki fukashi budo kana

almost black
deepening purple
ripe grapes

Haiku translation courtesy of Kimiyo Tanaka

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