Bashō's haiku in Japanese and English by L.P. Lovee (1)

        

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Inspired by the book titled “575 The Haiku of Basho”, I will translate 300 HAIKUs of Bashō under the pen-name of L. P. Lovee.

  

In the introduction of the book, Mr. John White (Ex-professor of UCL) mentioned as follows:

“In all the translations that follow in this particular selection of Basho’s haiku, the 5-7-5 format is strictly adhered to, and whenever Basho does see fit to add or subtract a sound unit or two in a given line, the syllabic structure of the resulting English haiku meticulously follows the same pattern.”

  

Although I appreciate his efforts, I am afraid that such efforts are not always successful for representing Basho’s haiku. The reason is because all of Japanese words can be expressed with letters "kana" ("ひらかな” or "カタカナ") each of which has a vowel, whereas all of English words consist of letters having a vowel or a consonant. Moreover, among Japanese words, there are many homonyms, differences of which can be expresed with "kanji", that is, "漢字”. 

For example, you will find interesting aspects of such differences by reading "Farewell haiku of Ransetsu" (http://knt73.blog.enjoy.jp/blog/farewell-haiku-of-ransetsu.html)

or "Let's enjoy haiku" (http://knt73.blog.enjoy.jp/blog/2018/06/lets-enjoy-haiku.html). 

   

Thus, in most cases, the Japanese 5-7-5 norm is not equivalent to the English norm of 5-7-5 syllables. If you adhere to the 5-7-5 syllable, the English haiku tends to lack brevity and “kire” (i.e., pause or discontinuation), which are essential factors in Japanese haiku. A haiku having a "kire" allows its reader to have an instant imagination for what will follow the kire, or what is unsaid in the haiku. 

   

There are many English translations made by non-Japanese speakers, some of them are well done, but the language barriers prevent them from representing fascinating aspects of Bashō's haiku. In this site, I will attempt to break such language barriers as a native Japanese speaker. 

    

For the convenience of readers to evaluate, I will describe my translations of Bashō's haiku by putting the reference number of each corresponding haiku of "575 The Haiku of Bashō" as follows.

             

  1/300

・ほろほろと山吹ちるか瀧の音 

  horohoroto yamabukichiruka takinooto

   

  shall yellow rose petals

  flutter down?

  the thunder of water fall

 

(2/300)

・霧しぐれ富士を見ぬ日ぞ面白き 

  kirishigure fujiominuhizo omoshiroki  

  

  showery mists

  hiding Mt. Fuji today_

  amusing!

 

(3/300

 ・山路来て何やらゆかしすみれ草 

    yamajikite naniyarayukashi sumiregusa 

  

     coming through a mountain path,

     somehow graceful_

     violets

 

4/300

・永き日を囀りたらぬ雲雀かな 

 nagakihio saezuritaranu hibarikana

  

    the so-called long-day

   insufficient to fully sing_

    skylarks

  

(5/300)

・菜畠に花見顔なる雀哉 

  nabatakeni hanamigaonaru suzumekana

  

   a plot of rape field,

   with a look of flower viewing

   a sparrow

      

(6/300  

・岩躑躅染る泪やほととぎ朱 

  iwatsutsuji somuru namidaya hototogisu

   

   the rock azalea

   dyed with the tears of

   a cuckoo   

     

7/300

・春なれや名もなき山の朝がすみ 

   harunareya namonakiyamano asagasumi

  

    the spring, now_

    on the unnamed mountain

    morning mists

   

 8/300

・むめがかにのっと日の出る山路かな 

  mumegakani nottohinoderu yamajikana

 

   amid the scent of plum blossoms

   suddenly emerges the sun_

   this mountain path

  

(9/300)

・五月雨にかくれぬものや瀬田の橋

 samidareni kakurenumonoya setanohashi

    

   in the rain of rainy season

   what remains in sight_

   the Seta Bridge

    

(10/300)

・風吹けば尾ぼそうなるや犬桜

  kazefukeba obosounaruya inuzakura

   

   when the wind blows,

   their tails dwindle_

   dog-cherry trees

 

コメント

Click the following URL to see
"Bashō's haiku in Japanese and English by L. P. Lovee":

http://www.haiku-hia.com/about_haiku/basho300_en/archives/300-01_en.html#preface_en

(Satoshi Kinoshita)

See: “Bashō's haiku in Japanese and English by L.P. Lovee (11) ~ (20)”
http://www.haiku-hia.com/about_haiku/basho300_en/archives/300-02_en.html

If you understand the Japanese language,
please read the Japanese version of this site
so that you may appreciate Bashō’s haiku more deeply.

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