Last Glow of the Dying Season

solitary quince
among semi-bare branches
too few leaves to hide
the only source of sunshine
floodlights the dying season

Kim M. Russell, 19th November 2020






My response to dVerse Poets Pub Meeting the Bar: Jisei (Japanese Death Poems)

Frank is our host today for Meeting the Bar, inviting us to revisit the Jisei (Japanese Death Poem), a genre that developed in the literary traditions of East Asian cultures, which offers a reflection on death (in general and concerning the imminent death of the author).

Jisei were often written in waka (tanka) or haiku, but death poems are not restricted to those forms. What is essential is the expression of both imminent death and the significance of life in the face of it. In this sense, Jisei is the poetry of both memorial and celebration.

Frank has shared examples by Basho, Haikuin and Hôjô Ujimasa to inspire our own Jisei. We can write haikai (haiku, senryu, tanka, kyoka, Gogyohka) or haikai-esque poems that reflect on imminent death—and the significance of life in light of it. If we go for the haikai-esque, we should keep them brief, and use the aesthetics of haikai (simplicity, heartfulness, and pathos).

56 thoughts on “Last Glow of the Dying Season

  1. Beautifully done, Kim. The solitary quince…..and then the sunlight streaking through tree branches floodlighting the dying season. I can imagine the sun, making those last leaves almost translucent as they hang on until the final harsh wind blows them to the ground.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love your description of how the sun ‘floodlights the dying season’ – we need all the sunlight we can get at this time of year. The image of ‘solitary quince’ is so appropriate to the jisei form and it’s meaning.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. So much said, implied, and presented. Bare branches are getting the poet’s salute out here on the trail. Winter skulking about with frigid breath and death-like fingers.

    Liked by 2 people

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