In the last week of October I attended a wonderful haiku workshop/conference across the border in the beautiful state of Washington in the small community of Seabeck. Since it was close to Halloween there was a Halloween theme throughout the weekend. One of my favourite parts of the weekend was escaping into nature by exploring the grounds and weaving my way up a path in search for the local cemetery that I was curious about. Visiting a cemetery especially in the fall and on top of it at Halloween has a an energy and feeling that is eerie and mysterious………
Being faced our own mortality is also a part of the cycle of life and its ending. I’m the ultimate optimist and I certainly don’t want this to turn into a depressing blog!
What I learned about haiku that weekend is that the traditional Japanese haiku poets would often write death poems all the way up to the last moments of their life. What is known in Japan as “jisei”, these haiku are considered to be “a farewell to life poem” that are sometimes dark and lonely but some of them are filled with hope and lightness. The three below are written by the haiku masters.
sick on my journey
only my dreams will wander
these desolate moors
Basho – translated by Tom Lowenstein
winter rain on moss
soundlessly recalls those
happy bygone days
Buson – translated by Sam Hamill
timing his death
Issa – translated by David G. Lanoue
These three haiku are examples of the range of emotions that haiku can stir up. You can feel the bleak sadness of Basho with the circumstances around his health. He became sick with a stomach illness and died peacefully, surrounded by his students. Although he did not compose a formal death poem on his deathbed, the one above is the last poem recorded during his final illness and is accepted as his farewell poem.
As we transition from fall into winter it’s a time for moving into a quieter energy to prepare for the winter months. The transformation of nature brings change and a letting go. With the leaves changing colours and eventually “falling” off, it is a letting go towards their own form of death knowing that a re-birth will naturally occur in the spring. I love fall and wish it would last longer, here in Vancouver it seems like a short time and it sometimes feels like winter in November. Technically it is still fall in December, the Winter Solstice is when we officially are in the thick of winter. This is the time to get warm, cozy and savour all moments from sweet to sad and everything in-between.
- Are you looking for more time to go within?
- What are you ready to let go of?
- Are you curious to explore your creative side that is healing?
When you take the FREE 5 day mini introductory course you see how haiku can have a healing effect on you. Get inspired and heal from whatever is holding you back in life. Haiku can bring peaceful moments to you by slowing down and being in the moment.