Wandering Crow – May Tan Renga

a wandering crow
its old nest has become
a plum tree                                                  © Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

sprouted from an old fruit stone
abandoned in the garden

its chicks are long flown
hungry yellow mouths are beaks
that feed their own

scattering coal dust feathers
in new nests in other trees

a wandering crow
observing from a plum tree
cocks its head

keeps a careful garden watch
with a glittering black eye

Kim M. Russell, 2017

crow and plum blossom

Crow and Plum Blossom (Woodblock Print) (image found on Pinterest)

My response to Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge Month 2017 #18 a wandering crow (Matsuo Basho)

Today we have a ‘hokku’ by Basho, which was the first verse of a real renga Basho attended. Chèvrefeuille tells us that Basho was very well known in his time as a Renga master and was invited to a lot of renga parties. The one that started with this ‘hokku’ was at the home of one of Basho’s elegant friends, Sakuei. In Basho’s time it was common to give haiku a title or a pre-script: ‘This was composed when seeing a screen of plum blossoms and a crow at the house of Sakuei. A renga party was held with this as the starting poem.’ This pre-script was not by Basho himself, it was added by Doho in his book Sho O Zen-den.

In this poem Basho compares himself to the crow painted on the screen. Instead of lodging in the simplicity of a crow’s nest, he sleeps among plum blossoms because he is staying with an elegant friend. Crows are not usually considered a migrating bird, but the idea of a wandering crow means a bird of passage or a priest on a journey. (Source: “Basho’s Complete Haiku” by Jane Reichhold)

 Chèvrefeuille has challenged us to create a Soliloquy No Renga (a solo-renga), a kind of renga he invented, in which the goal is to create a renga with at least six stanzas following the sequence: ‘hokku’, (in this case, the haiku by Basho); two lined stanza, three lined stanza, two lined stanza, three lined stanza, two lined stanza, and so on. The last stanza the ‘ageku’ (closing verse) makes the chain complete.

6 thoughts on “Wandering Crow – May Tan Renga

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