under the jujube tree

Carpe Diem Special #204 Shida Yaba’s “morning frost”

In this episode of haiku writing technique , our host Kristjaan explains about Karumi .
with reference to Shida Yaba (1662 – 1740)
Yaba was 79 when he died. He was born in Echizen, Fukui. His name was Shida Yaba and his nickname Yasuke or Hanjiro.
Yaba was first mentioned in 1687.His style was that of karumi (lightness.) He also used the name of Chobokusha or Choshi. He studied haiku first with Kikaku, later with Basho himself.

Remembering Basho , Yaba wrote

asajimo ya shi no sune omou yuki no kure

morning frost –
I think of the shins of my master
on a night with snow

© Yaba

Yaba wrote the following haiku when he heard the news of Basho’s death

chikara na ya hiza o kakaete fuyugomori
no strenght left –

I wrap my arms around my knees
in winter solitude

© Yaba

It’s known that Yaba and Basho had a very warm and close contact. There is a letter from Basho to Yaba, written during his trip “Oku no Hosomichi”, which was found in 1997.

Basho wrote :

. uguisu ya mochi ni fun suru en no saki .
Ah! the uguisu
Pooped on the rice-cakes
On the verandah.

© Basho (Tr. Peipei-Qiu)

Bashô’s verse breaks drastically with the convention and discovers poetry in the natural and the low. The master’s new poetic ideal in this poem had a deep impact on his disciples, as Yaba wrote:

“I am utterly impressed by the exceptionally wonderful combination of the warbler and the rice cake. I don’t think one can find any other verse like this. The effect cannot be achieved without the words “excreting on a rice cake.” The juxtaposition is so magically marvellous that it can only be compared to the masterpiece of the Natural. There may be more combinations like the warbler and rice cake later, but we will never see a line like “excreting on a rice cake.” In these words lies the soul of the poem.” (source : Basho-and-the-Dao – Peipei-Qiu )

From my point of view , writing a haiku is an easy task if one tries , but writing it in the above technique is almost an impossible thing . I didn’t sleep almost the whole night trying to write ,but in vain . Then an idea struck me .

Some days back on a sunny morning , under a jujube tree beside my house I saw a pair of wild pigeons . One was badly hurt with a broken wing caked with blood . Its mate never moved back from near the dying one , though it picked jujube fruits lying here and there . I stood dumbfounded not knowing what to do .After a while , I picked up the almost dead pigeon under the shade of a nearby canna foliage . its mate followed me as if I was the saviour .

I turned back to my daily chores . But the scene kept flashing on my mind the whole day . I was moody and somewhat felt so lonely that day .

It must be a moment of ” karumi ” .

Following the path of the master ,Basho here is my humble approach of this technique .

unbearable lightness
a wild pigeon picks jujube
near its dying mate .



2 thoughts on “under the jujube tree

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