Haiku Homage, “Imitation,” and Link: Basia Miller responds to Autumn

Imitation, as a poetic technique, is considered a good thing–a kind of homage to the greats. Robert Lowell used the word for his translations.
Here is a fascinating sequence of haiku homages. Basia Miller started with a traditional haiku, and then wrote her own. The technique was to have some kind of connection to the first. The traditional haiku were inspiration, starting point, or poetic ground.
I find her work so fresh, sometimes startling, always vivid. She’s included the “link: she found between the old and new. Read and enjoy–and maybe try this!

Imitations of Haiku in Blyth, Autumn-Winter, vol. 4
 
Ten imitations, homages, or resemblances of type; a tiny 
something from the natural or human world in each one.
The link can be small—a feeling, a word, a location. Signal 
the season. At least one line short per haiku – <5, <7, <5.
 
I
 
Going out of the house,
Ten paces, —
And the vast autumn sea.
 
                                    Shiki   (p. 1014)
        Contrasts, near and far perspectives
                                    A warm and a cold
 
Leaving the house                                  
While the computer is on–                 
Brighter autumn sun.   
 
II
 
The dragon-fly,
It tried in vain to settle
On a blade of grass.
                       
                                    Basho (p. 1062)
                                    The physics doesn’t work
 
Tiny black spider                                    
In my stone washbasin                         
The sides are too steep.                        
 
III
Birds of passage
For also me now, my old home
Is but a lodging for the night
 
                                    Kyorai (p. 1058)
                                    An everyday sight takes on
greater significance
 
Bird feeder empty
My table’s clean—
Night closes in on us.
 
 
IV
 
The yellow chrysanthemums
Lose their colour
In the light of the hand-lantern.
 
                                    Buson (p. 1088)
                                    Surprising effect observed      
 
Even mourning-doves
Lose their voices
When the leaves tremble.
 
 
V
 
What a huge one, how splendid it was
The chestnut
I couldn’t get at!
 
                                    Issa (p. 1116)
                                    Unseizable nut/view
 
Bare tree branches
Weave dark shadows in the sun
–I can’t stop the wind!
 
 
 
 
VI
 
Insects are crying:
The moon comes out
The garden is yet darker.
 
                                    Shiki (p. 1077)
                                    Unexpected connection of different
         perceptions
 
Cricket chirps near me.                        
After the rain                                            
A shaft of moonlight.                              
 
 
VII
 
Wisps of my hair
Quiver together with the plumes
Of the pampas grass
 
                                    Issa (p. 1096)
         Humans are part of nature
 
Cutting purple sage
To heap up in the garden–
Hands smell of sweet straw.
 
Snowball bush
Why are your leaves crimson?
My hair has turned gray.
 
 
VIII
 
The beginning of autumn
Decided
By the red dragon-fly.
                       
                                    Shirao (p. 1060)
                                    Erroneous attribution
 
Fullness of autumn                                
Drawn here by the crimson leaves  
Of the snowball bush.                            
 
 
IX
 
On the bamboo
That marks the place of a dead man,
A dragon-fly
 
                                    Kito (p. 1062)
        Random coordination
 
Over the old grave
Of a cat
A last white flower
 
 
X
 
The mountain grows darker,
Taking the scarlet
From the autumn leaves.
 
                                    Buson (p. 1063)
 
The low autumn sun
On the oak’s pale yellow leaves
Turns them copper.
 
 

2 thoughts on “Haiku Homage, “Imitation,” and Link: Basia Miller responds to Autumn

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