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Haiku of Buson

Modernistic six lines: Most haiku poems make do with 3 lines, and the traditional, Japanese poetic form consists of 17 syllables arranged in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables each. For translations the old rules may nor may not be adhered to throughout.

Haiku derives from the Japanese verse form tanka, which is one thousand years old. Both tanka and haiku have been developed and changed during the centuries. They are terse and may be interpreted in different ways.

Yosa Buson


The Japanese painter Taniguchi (Yosi) Buson (1716-84) followed Basho in time and fame as a writer of haiku. He probably seems a little more sophisticated than Basho, and his haiku craft is equally exquisite. He was of a wealthy Japanese family, and came to pursue a career in the arts as a painter. Yet he won even more renown as an expert haiku poet, one that also experimented with the handed-over haiku form, eventually.

Buson's poetry is known as "ornate and sensuous, rich in visual detail". He strove to revive the tradition of Basho, his forerunner in the haiku art, but never reached the level of Zen-linked and humanistic understanding had by Basho. [3]
      Buson is known for saying, "Use the colloquial language to transcend colloquialism," and also that in a haiku "one must talk poetry."

Below are twenty-seven haiku by Buson.

Standing still at dusk

listen . . . In far


The song of froglings!

My two plum trees are

so gracious . . .

see, they flower

One now, one later

The laden wagon runs

bumbling and creaking

down the road . . .

Three peonies tremble

Lightning flash, crash . . .

waiting in the

bamboo grove

See three dew-drops fall

Afternoon shower . . .

walking and talking

in the street:

Umbrella and raincoat!

Sadness at twilight . . .

villain! I have

let my hand

Cut that peony

In dim dusk and scent

a witness

now half hidden . . .

Evenfall orchid

Voices of two bells

that speak from

twilight temples . . .

Ah! Cool dialogue

Deep in dark forest

a woodcutter's

dull axe talking . . .

And a woodcutter

Butterfly asleep

folded soft on

temple bell . . .

Then bronze gong rang!

See the morning breeze

ruffling his so

silky hair . . .

Cool caterpillar

A camellia

dropped down into

still waters

Of a deep dark well

In the holy dusk

nightingales begin

their psalm . . .

Good! The dinner-gong!

A short summer night . . .

but in this solemn


One peony bloomed

Pebbles shining clear,

and clear

six silent fishes . . .

Deep autumn water

A bright autumn moon . . .

in the shadow of

each grass

An insect chirping

White chrysanthemum . . .

before that

perfect flower

Scissors hesitate

At furue in rain

gray water and

grey sand . . .

Picture without lines

The old fisherman


intent . . .

Cold evening rain

Rainy-month, dripping

on and on

as I lie abed . . .

Ah, old man's memories!

Slanting lines of rain . . .

on the dusty


A mouse is trotting

Old weary willows . . .

I thought how long

the road would be

When you went away

From Japanese Verse, p. lx

Scampering over saucers -

The sound of a rat.

Cold. Cold.

Spring rain;

telling a tale as they go,

Straw cape, umbrella.

Spring rain:

In our sedan

Your soft whispers.

Sudden shower:

Grasping the grass-blades

A shoal of sparrows.


Whenever honeysuckle

Petals fall.


Haiku, Yosa Buson, Literature  

Beilenson, Peter, tr. Japanese Haiku. New York: Peter Pauper Press, 1955.

Bownas, Geoffrey and Thwaite, Anthony: Japanese Verse. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964.

Dørumsgaard, Arne,: Vinger i natten: Buson i norsk gjendiktning (1716-1783). (Wings in the Night: Buson Rendered intp Norwegian).Oslo: Dreyer, 1985.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, i.e. Britannica Online.

Haugen, Paal-Helge: Blad frċ ein austleg hage: hundre Haiku-dikt (Leaves from an Eastern Garden: A Hundred Haiku). Oslo: Det norske Samlaget, 1965.

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