Dissident Editions
Home - - - Reviews - - - Feedback - - - About - - - Blog

Dissident Editions Logo

zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku

zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku

WEEDS, FALLING RAIN

a selection of Zen Haikai by

Taneda Santoka
 
POETRY

santoka's shadow

poems of the month

fish

vagabondage

measuring my face

ostracism

old clothes

modern iranian poems

my hero

face at the bottom of the world

perhaps (maybe)

the diogenes sequence

where to store furs

i am and am not:
      fragments of rumi

destiny and destination

the zen of no-enlightenment

the iraqi monologues

already backwards

a light in ruins

separate amputations

the sexy jihad

awaiting the barbarians

the smell of possibilities

ultimate leaves

rejoice in the dog

post-millennium maggot

dispatches from the war against the world

albanian poems

french poems in honour of jean genet

the hells
going on

the joy of suicide

book disease

foreground
trouble

the transcendental hotel

cinema of the blind

lament of the earth mother

uranian poems

haikai by okami

haikai on the edge

black hole of your heart

jung's motel

leda and the swan

confession from belgrade

gloss on rilke's ninth duino elegy

jewels and shit: poems by rimbaud

villon's dialogue with his heart

vasko popa:
a shepherd of
wolves ?

the rubaiyát of omar khayyám

genrikh sapgir:
an ironic mystic

the love of pierre de ronsard

imagepoem

 

TRANSLATIONS



BETWEEN POETRY AND PROSE

good riddance to mankind

the maxims of michel de montaigne

400
revolutionary maxims

helen's tower

extortion through e-bay

schopenhauer for muthafuckas

after a first cataract operation

single track in the snow

never a pygmy

against money

did franco die ?

'original sin' followed by
crippled consciousness

a gay man's guide to soft-willy sex

the holosensual alternative

tiger wine

the death of poetry

the absinthe drinker

with mrs dalloway in ukraine

love  and  hell

running on emptiness

a holocaust near you

nice men and
  suicide of an alien

anti-fairy tales

the most terrible event in history

the rich man and the leper

disgusting

art, truth and bafflement

 

SHORT STORIES

godpieces

the three bears

three albanian tales

odorous underwear

a little creation story

 

ESSAYS & MEMOIRS

helen's tower

extortion through e-bay

schopenhauer for muthafuckas

after a first cataract operation

single track in the snow

never a pygmy

against money

did franco die ?

'original sin' followed by
crippled consciousness

a gay man's guide to soft-willy sex

the holosensual alternative

tiger wine

the death of poetry

the absinthe drinker

with mrs dalloway in ukraine

love  and  hell

running on emptiness

a holocaust near you

a note on the cathars

happiness

londons of the mind
& dealing death to the caspian

genocide

a muezzin from the tower of darkness

kegan and kagan

being or television

satan in the groin

womb of half-fogged mirrors

tourism and terrorism

diogenes: the dog from sinope

shoplifting

this sorry scheme of things

a holy dog and a dog-headed saint

fools for nothingness

death of a bestseller

vacuum of desire: a homo-erotic correspondence

a note on beards

translation and the oulipo

the visit

 

PHOTOGRAPHS

prelude

 

Nuadú, God of War

field guide to megalithic ireland

houses for the dead

french megaliths

a small town in france


 

'western values'

 

 


 

 

 

new versions by Okami

zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku

Santoka, Taneda lived from 1882 until 1940, and his life hinged around the moment that he was rescued from the path of an oncoming train in a suicide attempt, and brought to a nearby Zen temple. He duly became a Zen monk and devoted his life to moneyless pilgrimage ("walking Zen") throughout Japan, existing in complete poverty and often in some squalor. Apart from a towel and the clothes he stood up in, virtually all he possessed was just one bowl: the traditional begging-bowl in which he received alms of food or perhaps money, and from which he ate and drank. Such a bowl would have been the most intimate friend and companion. Committed to Impermanence and Solitude, as his haiku indicate, he had a continuing, deep relationship with sakè, the rice wine of Japan.

It is noteworthy that the near-totalitarian régime of pre-war Japan tolerated a man who in the West would now be pumped with mind-numbing and body-deforming drugs at the very least. His haikai were greatly appreciated by the many lovers of poetry. Sent to grateful friends and acquaintances on postcards, they were never worked on or edited. He believed that they should spring freshly from the awareness of the moment.

They are nothing like the pretty pastiches, the smug pseudo-Zen observations, that pass for haiku in the West. Santoka's haiku are spiky, raw, Stoical. Some (printed here in italics) even criticise the militaristic government of the nineteen-thirties for its annexation of Manchuria and invasion of China prior to the Second World War.

 

 

Unpleasant days:
days I don't walk, days without booze,
haikuless days.

Sakè for flesh, haiku for soul:
sakè is the haiku of the flesh
haiku is the sakè of the soul.

Walking on and on -
my only course.

So this is what
he calls his "tea grove" -
one miserable bush!

No water but that
trickling from
the farmer in the dry rice-field.

The thistles -
fresh and sparkling
after morning rain.

At the mountain-foot
many graves resting
in the warm sunlight.

This road straight -
and empty of company.

Going deeper
and still deeper
into green mountains.

The sunshine freshly
reflecting from
my freshly-shaven head.

Begging: I accept
the burning sun.

One pot is enough;
I wash the rice.

Shining brightly in the sunshine:
my little bowl of rice.

Within life and death
snow ceaselessly falls.

I have no home;
autumn gets bleaker.

Worn and torn daily
and falling in shreds:
my cloak for travelling.

The giant camphor-tree:
the dog and I
completely soaked.

Nice road
leading to a nice building:
a crematorium.

Rain in my eyes:
I can't read the signpost.

The sky at sunset -
a little alcohol would taste so good.

The long night:
made even longer
by a barking dog.

The louse I've caught
is warmer than I am!

Nonchalantly pissing
off the road
soaking the young weeds.


Painting by Anthony Weir

zen santoka haikai haiku
Winter rain clouds -
soldiers off to China
to be blown to bits.


Marching together
on the ground their feet
will never pound again.


Leaving hands and feet
behind in China:
Japanese soldiers come home.


Will the municipality
stage a banner day
for those brought back as bones ?
zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku

Metamorphoto by Anthony Weir

zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku

Baggage I can't throw off
so heavy front and back.

In the calm stillness
after the rainstorm:
flies.

Slowly but surely
I adopt the vices
of my dead father.

Sweat:
collecting
in my navel.

Today's lunch:
just water.

Breaking the dead branches
thinking of nothing.

Today again
no letters.
Only butterflies.

At last!
The mail's arrived.
Soon ripe fruit will fall.

The leaves fall.
From now on
water will taste better and better.

A little woozy,
leaves fall one by one.

My begging-bowl
accepts the falling leaves.

Hailstones also
drop into my begging-bowl.

If I sell my rags
and buy some alcohol -
will there still be loneliness ?

Twilight - the sound
of a sad letter
dropping into a postbox.

Goallessly
I walk amongst tombstones.

Slowly, slowly
falling apart:
my final autumn.

I've become a real beggar now:
one towel.

The few flies that remain
find me familiar.

Pissing blood -
how long will I be able
to carry on ?

Coughing, coughing -
and nobody to slap my back.

No money, no possessions,
no teeth -
all alone.

My heart's exhausted -
the mountains, the sea
are too beautiful.

Mountains I'll never see again
fade in the distance.

When I die:
weeds,
falling rain.

Some life remains:
I scratch my belly....


zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku


zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku

A COLLECTION OF HAIKU BY SANTOKA
TRANSLATED AND INTRODUCED BY JOHN STEVENS
UNDER THE TITLE MOUNTAIN TASTING
IS PUBLISHED BY WEATHERHILL, NEW YORK AND TOKYO.

 

 

Here is a famous poem by a contemporary of Santoka,

Kaneko Mitsuharo (1895-1975)
(translated by Anthony Weir)


OPPOSITION

When I was young
I resisted school,
and now
I resist employment.

What I most hate
are property and hygiene.
There's nothing so inhuman
as law-abiding cleanliness.

Naturally, I contradict The Spirit of our Nation.
Duty and Social Function make me vomit.
I'm against all governments everywhere
and wave my smelly cock
at the cosy cartels of
Accepted Writers.

When I'm asked what my Purpose In Life is,
I answer: To oppose.
When I'm Easterly
I go Westward.

I do up my coat and shoes the wrong way round.
I wear my trousers back to front,
and likewise ride a horse.

What everyone else hates I like.
My greatest hate of all is
consensus, unanimity, received opinion.

So I believe that to oppose
is the only splendid thing in life.
To oppose is REALLY to live.
To oppose is to connect deeply
with the spirit within.

 

 

Santoka's Shadow >

zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku

 

 

zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku



zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku zen santoka haikai haiku

 
<previous page
top of page
next>