Monday, November 20, 2017

Carpe Diem #1309 Earth's First Clay

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Well ... I don't really know if this quatrain for today will inspire you. At least it didn't inspire me, just because of it's difficulties hidden it. This quatrain tells us about the first man, Adam, created from the Earth's first clay, but with this creation he also created the last man ...

Let me give you the quatrain for today:

With Earth's first Clay They did the Last Man's knead,
And then of the Last Harvest sowed the Seed:
Yea, the first Morning of Creation wrote
What the Last Dawn of Reckoning shall read.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)

modern art: The Creation of Adam

Background: (source: bob forrest web)

This verse can be taken as a pessimistic suspicion that everything is predestined: with the Earth’s first Clay, from which God created (moulded, as a sculpture) the first man, Adam, God also created (“knead” = shape, as in shaping the dough for a loaf of bread) the clay for the Last Man. The second line likens God’s creation of Man to planting a crop: the Harvest at the End of the World is predetermined by the Seed which God planted at the Beginning. The last two lines neatly contrast WRITE at the Creation, with READ at the End (Last Dawn of Reckoning.)

There are similarities in the creation of Adam in several religions, here it's used as in Islam, but also as used in Christianity.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 27th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on. For now ... have fun!

Carpe Diem #1308 A Game of Chess

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I hope you all have had a wonderful inspirational weekend. I had a busy weekend at work, so I hadn't time to publish this regular episode on time. We are going on with our exploration of "The Rubaiyat"  by Omar Khayyam. As I was preparing this episode that I have titled "A Game of Chess" a haiga I created a while ago came in mind. I love to share that haiga here with you, maybe you can remember it.

Haiga "A Game of Chess" (© Chèvrefeuille, 2015)
What has this to do with the inspirational quatrain for today? Well ... in this quatrain Omar Khayyam describes life as a game of chess. Let me give you today's quatrain and than we start "talking" about it.

'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


Life is here likened to a game of Chess or Checkers, the black and white squares of the Chess-board being likened to Nights and Days. Destiny is the player who captures (slays) pieces in the course of the game, removing them from the board and putting them back in the storage box (Closet.) It is Destiny too, who finishes the game – “mates” in Line 3 is “Check Mate” – the term for the end of a Game of Chess. The overall idea is that Destiny kills us all off, one by one.

The related image of Death playing Chess with Mortals to decide where and when they will die is probably best known to most people through Ingmar Bergman’s film “The Seventh Seal” of 1957. What is less well known is that Bergman got the idea for this image from a wall-painting in the medieval church of Täby in Stockholm, dating from the latter half of the 14th century!

Death playing Chess (Medieval church Täby in Stockholm)

The idea that human life is a game of the gods is ancient. Thus, as Canter notes in his article “Fortuna in Latin Poetry”, the goddess Fortuna “delights in mockery and in making man the victim of her sport." Thus, Virgil, in The Aeneid talks of Fortuna mocking mankind by knocking them down then picking them up again, as fancy takes; Horace, in his Odes, talks of Fortuna pursuing her wanton sport by deliberately switching her favours from one person to another; and Juvenal in his Satires talks of Fortuna raising men from the gutter to high office just to amuse herself.

The Roman tragedian Pacuvius, who lived in the 2nd century BC, wrote of the goddess Fortuna as follows:

Dame Fortune, some philosophers maintain,
Is witless, sightless, brutish; they declare
That on a rolling ball of stone she stands;
For whither that same stone a hazard tilts,
Thither, they say, falls Fortune; and they state
That she is witless for that she is cruel,
Untrustworthy, unstaid; and, they repeat
Sightless she is because she nothing sees
Whereto she’ll steer herself: and brutish too
Because she cannot tell between the man
That’s worthy and unworthy. But there are
Other philosophers who against all this
Deny that there is any goddess Fortune,
Saying it is Chance Medley rules the world.
That this is more like unto truth and fact
Practice doth teach us by the experience;
Orestes thus, who one time was a king,
Was one time made a beggar.

(The translation is by E.H.Warmington)

In modern times, Bertrand Russell opened his essay “A Free Man’s Worship”, first published in 1903, with an account of God’s creation of Man, as given by the devil Mephistopheles to Dr. Faustus:

“The endless praises of the choirs of angels had begun to grow wearisome; for after all, did he not deserve their praise? Had he not given them endless joy? Would it not be more amusing to obtain undeserved praise, to be worshipped by beings whom he tortured? He smiled inwardly, and resolved the great drama should be performed.”

Death Playing Chess by Israhel von Meckenem

Omar Khayyam was very lyrical about death and it seems to me that he accepted the idea of "death belonging to life", as we also saw in the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche, (The theme of our first CDHK Theme-week).

game of life and death
like nature

© Chèvrefeuille

I hope you liked this episode and that it will inspire you. This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 27th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Delayed post

Dear Haijin, visitors and travellers,

Our new regular post is delayed. I hope to publish it later this evening or else tomorrow.

Chèvrefeuille, your host.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Carpe Diem Weekend-Meditation #7 Tan Renga Challenge "the last colorful leaves"

!! Open for your submissions Sunday November 19th at 7:00 PM (CET) !!!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new weekend-meditation here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, the place to be if you like to write and share Japanese poetry.

This weekend I love to challenge you with Tan Renga, that nice tanka-like poem created by two poets. The goal is to write the second stanza towards a given haiku, to create a Tan Renga. This weekend however I have one with a twist for you too.

For the first Tan Renga I will give you the first stanza (the haiku), a haiku by Matsuo Basho:

deep silence
the shrill of cicadas
seeps into rocks

© Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694)

But for the second Tan Renga I will give you the second stanza of two lines, to this Tan Renga you have to create the first stanza, the haiku. Here is the 2nd stanza for the second Tan Renga:

soft winter breeze cherishes
the last colorful leaves   

© Chèvrefeuille

So let me give you a brief explanation for this weekend-meditation. The goal is to complete two Tan Renga. One by completing the first stanza with a second stanza and the other Tan Renga you have to complete by putting the first stanza of three (3) lines towards it.

To conclude this episode I have an announcement to make:

Today starts the My Haiku Pond Academy Contest Troiku, I will be the Judge of this contest. You can find this CONTEST HERE.

This weekend-meditation is open for your submissions next Sunday November 19th at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until November 26th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode around 7:00 PM (CET) next Sunday. For now ... have fun!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Carpe Diem #1307 The Vessel

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's a little bit sad day today. I failed an exam I had today, but well it's not something to worry about. I will make it again on another day. Now I only have my thoughts at this episode. What can I tell you about this quatrain? It's the sequel of the verse of yesterday. These two verses are connected and I will try to explain that with a little help of bob forrest, who wrote a verse to verse explanation of "The Rubaiyat". It's that explanation I used this month already in all the episodes. Before I had heard about "The Rubaiyat", I really hadn't a clue what a quatrain was or who Omar Khayyam was so I just needed a suitable source of information. It took me some time to find the verse to verse explanation, but I am glad that I found it. "The Rubaiyat" is a wonderful compilation of quatrains with a whole lot of hidden layers, without the verse to verse explanation I couldn't make this month.

Omar Khayyam
Let me give you the quatrain for your inspiration:

I think the Vessel, that with fugitive
Articulation answered, once did live,
And merry-make; and the cold Lip I kiss'd
How many Kisses might it take - and give !

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


“The Vessel” here is the earthen bowl of the previous verse. The lip of the bowl becomes the lip of someone once living, and thus once capable of giving kisses.

The idea that, on death, we return to earth or clay from which can be made a Vessel/ Cup/Bowl is but one idea. Another idea is that our clay may become that of simple building bricks. Thus, for example, Hafiz wrote that “this ruined world is resolved, when we are dead, to make only bricks of our clay!” (from Ode VI in the translation by Cowell).

It's a joy to read again a "note" to an other Persian poet, Hafiz, in this explanation. Hafiz is one of my favorite Persian poets and I even think he is also the most loved Persian poet all around the globe. In the poems by Hafiz we found also several hidden layers.

Hafiz quote
In Christian tradition the phrase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”, is common use in the tradition of a funeral, but it isn’t a phrase in the Holy Scripture it is based on Genesis 3:19, Genesis 18:27, Job 30:19, and Ecclesiastes 3:20. Those passages say that we begin and end as dust.

So is there also a reference to Christian belief in this quatrain by Omar Khayyam? Maybe it is, maybe it is not. I don’t know. However I like the idea that we can find references to Christian belief in a Persian compilation of verses.

smoke rises
from the pyre
to Heaven

© Chèvrefeuille (experimental haiku)

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 23rd at noon (CET). I will publish our new "weekend-meditation" later on. For now ... have fun!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Carpe Diem #1306 The Secret Well of Life

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our Haiku Kai were we are exploring the beauty of Omar Khayyam's "The Rubaiyat" as translated by FitzGerald. "The Rubaiyat" is a compilation of 100 quatrains, but as I told you earlier this month, "The Rubaiyat" is just a small part of Khayyam's quatrains, he created around 2000 quatrains.

Today's episode I have titled "The Secret Well of Life". In my opinion "the secret well of life" is similar with the "Elixer of Life" as was the goal for the Alchemists. They not only were searching for the "Stone" to create gold, but also for the "Elixer of Life". If this is true for this quatrain we will see.

As I was preparing this month I read "The Rubaiyat" and there were several quatrains in which Khayyam uses "earthen bowls" or "pots". In this quatrain that's also a theme.

Earthen Pots (this is one of the first logos I used by the way)
Let me give you the quatrain for today and after that the background (source: bob forrest):

Then to this earthen Bowl did I adjourn
My Lip the secret Well of Life to learn:
And Lip to Lip it murmured - "While you live
Drink ! - for once dead you never shall return.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


This is the first of many references to earthen bowls or pots, which for Omar Khayyam are both drinking vessels and symbolic of people (via Adam being made from clay or earth; hence earth to earth, ashes to ashes etc.) In some cases, he pictures the Clay from which an Earthen Vessel is made as being that formed from the body of some long-dead person which has turned back into earth again. Here, in drinking from the bowl, the poet’s lip presses on the lip of the bowl. Here again we have Omar’s philosophy, repeated throughout the poem, but here expressed by the earthen wine bowl, “Drink! – for once dead you never shall return!”

The following lines by Hafiz involve not only the image of the cup of mortal clay touching the lips of the living, but also other Omarian images of the transience of Kings and of flowers growing from the dust of the dead or from their spilt blood. The translation is from Gertrude Bell's Poems from the Divan of Hafiz (1897), poem 26:

...Time's revolving sphere
Over a thousand lives like thine has rolled.
That cup within thy fingers, dost not hear
The voices of dead kings speak through the clay?
Kobad, Bahman, Djemshid, their dust is here.
'Gently upon me set thy lips!' they say.

What man can tell where Kaus and Kai have gone?
Who knows where even now the restless wind
Scatters the dust of Djem's imperial throne?
And where the tulip, following close behind
The feet of Spring, her scarlet chalice rears,
There Ferhad for the love of Sherin pined,
Dyeing the desert red with his tears.

© Hafiz

(The forbidden love between the lowly Ferhad and the princess Sherin is an old Persian love story. Ferhad killed himself in the desert when he was tricked into believing that Sherin was dead. Hearing of Ferhad's death, Sherin also killed herself, and subsequently the two were buried together.)

Ferhad and Shirin (a Persian lovestory)

The Persian love-story about Ferhad and Shirin is similar with that tragedy created by Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet. It's a forbidden love, because Shirin is a princess and Ferhad is just a low-ranked man. As Ferhad dies, Shirin takes her own life, because she cannot live with Ferhad.

The title of this episode is extracted from the quatrain used and it can also refer to that strong love as mentioned in the story of Ferhad and Shirin. Isn't love the secret well of life?

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 22nd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on. For now ... have fun!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Carpe Diem #1305 No Key

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our Haiku Kai. This month it's all about "The Rubaiyat" by the Persian poet and scholar Omar Khayyam. In this 'book' we read quatrains, say about 100 of them, but Khayyam wrote more than 2000 quatrains, however this month we will only look at "The Rubaiyat". The translations I use are by FitzGerald, who published the first English edition of "The Rubaiyat" in the 19th century. FitzGerald gave this selection the title "The Rubaiyat" which means "quatrains".

The Rubaiyat, one of the more recent prints
Todays quatrain (no. 32) is the sequel to the verse of yesterday. Today's episode I have titled "No Key", because it refers to the essence of this verse.

Maybe you can remember that we read "Aleph" by Paulo Coelho while on the Trans Siberian Railroad. In "Aleph" Paulo is on a quest to find his former life. He dreams sometimes of a place with several doors. Those doors cannot open cmpletely, or even not opened at all. There is No Key. "No Key" is something we see and hear regular in spirituality. "No Key" to open the door, the path and more.
In this 32th quatrain that's the essence of the verse ... not all can be opened ...

Here is the quatrain to work with today:

There was a Door to which I found no Key:
There was a Veil past which I could not see:
Some little Talk awhile of ME and THEE
There seemed – and then no more of THEE and ME.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)

closed door

The Door and Veil are metaphorical barriers which prevent us from seeing the answer to the riddle of human Death and Fate. The idea seems to be that while the mysterious voices behind these barriers talk about us, we live; but once they stop talking, we must die. It is interesting that in Islam, “…death is believed to be a door to the realm of the afterlife, which according to Islamic tradition starts with the grave.” It is interesting, too, that “the Veil” is a term commonly used by Spiritualists to describe the supposed barrier that exists between the spirit world and the land of the living.

As I look at this background (source: Bob Forrest) then something is coming to my attention. Omar Khayyam, was not only a poet and scholar, but also a philosopher. In this quatrain he shows us who he looks at the spirit world. As a mystery, something that we can not catch. Another thing which caught my attention is that in the Qu'ran, as it seems, there is also an idea about the afterlife. It is seen as a realm, but that realm we only can reach through opening the door to the grave. That's also the idea about afterlife in Christian tradition. As I was reading this quatrain I thought immediately that Khayyam had questions about the afterlife, he shows that through the use of "the veil" in this verse. "The Veil" between life and death. Can it be that he questioned the afterlife, if that was really the end? Or was he thinking that there had to be something else ... reincarnation for example.

The Veil? The ethereal 4th dimension? Afterlife? Reincarnation?
behind the veil
mystery awaits
new life?

© Chèvrefeuille (experimental haiku)

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 21st at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Carpe Diem #1304 The Seventh Gate

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As I was preparing this month, by reading the entire "Rubaiyat" there were several quatrains I didn't understand. Those quatrains sounded magical and mysterious. Today's quatrain is such a quatrain which I couldn't understand at first, but after reading the background on this verse it became very clear what the meaning was of this quatrain. This quatrain gives you in words a visual of the Universe as was thought about in the time of Khayyam.
Nowadays we know that the sun is the center of our Universe, but in the time of Khayyam everyone thought that the Earth was the center of the Universe. Omar Khayyam as an astronomer however had already ideas about our Universe ... in his idea the sun was the center of the Universe, so he was far ahead of his time.

The Universe
Let me give you the verse for today ... it's again a nice one, but the choice of words sounds magical and mysterious in my opinion.

Up from Earth's Centre through the seventh Gate
I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate,
And many Knots unravel'd by the Road;
But not the Knot of Human Death and Fate.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


Above I already gave a kind of explanation of this quatrain. I think this background (source: Bob Forrest web) will give you all a better explanation of this quatrain.

At the time of Omar Khayyam, the Earth was generally believed to be at the centre of the universe, and surrounded by seven spheres associated with the then known seven planets. In order of distance from the Earth, the spheres were those of: (1) The Moon, (2) Mercury, (3) Venus, (4) the Sun, (5) Mars, (6) Jupiter, (7) Saturn. The sense of this verse is that the Poet ascended to the outermost sphere of the universe so that he could view the whole “from the outside”, and though this journey made many things clear to him, he could still not see the answer to the riddle of human Death and Fate.

The Ancient Idea Of The Universe, The Flower Of Life

It is sometimes said that Omar Khayyam, as an astronomer, was ahead of his time, and advocated a Sun-centred model of the Universe rather than the more ‘obvious’ Earth-centred one, but this verse does seem to be Earth-centred. Of course, this is FitzGerald’s translation, and is a poetic reference rather than an astronomical one. Nevertheless, more literal translations of the Persian also seem to be Earth-centred. Thus Edward Heron-Allen gives, “From the Nadir of the earthly globe, up to the Zenith of Saturn”; and Edward Henry Whinfield, “down from Saturn’s wreath, unto this lowly sphere of Earth beneath.” 

at sunrise
birds praising their Creator
without questions

© Chèvrefeuille

Let me give you a brief explanation of this haiku. We humans are always searching for answers, we have thousand questions, we want to know everything, but birds never question their existence and praise their Creator every day again. Isn't that awesome ... !?

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 20th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Carpe Diem #1303 Seed of Wisdom

!! Sorry for being this late with publishing !!!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our wonderful daily meme here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, the place to be if you like to write and share Japanese poetry. A warmhearted family of lovers of Japanese poetry.
We are busy with the exploration of Omar Khayyam's "The Rubaiyat" and until today I think it is a joy to read your responses on all these beautiful quatrains.

Our episode's title "seed of wisdom" is extracted from the 28th quatrain from "The Rubaiyat" and I love to tell you a little bit more about the "seed of wisdom". On several occasions I was adressed as "sensei" or "master", but in my opinion that's to much honor. I am only a guy who loves to share a little bit of his knowledge about haiku, tanka and other Japanese poetry forms. Of course there was once a seed planted, I think in my case, that was somewhere in the late eighties as I discovered haiku. I was immediately caught by this wonderful tiny poem from the Far East. I studied several books about this poetry form and as I started CDHK in 2012 I was a connaisseur of haiku and later on I also became addicted to Tanka and studied that form too. And than ... there is of course my own philosophy in which "unconditional love for all and everything" is the most important idea. That "seed of wisdom" was planted back in the time I was a teenager, in that time I ran into the occult and was caught by it. It made me sick and it took a while to become free again, but in that time I found the reason of my life here on earth, I found the wisdom I needed ... I even gave word to it in one of the novels I have written ... the "seed of wisdom" has bloomed and still blossoms further ...

Seed Of Wisdom
Here is the quatrain to work with. I will of  course give you also a little bit background on this quatrain.

With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow;
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd--
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


The development of the Poet’s philosophical studies are likened to a crop – seed, growth, harvest – and yet the end result is the realisation of the utter transience of earthly life, and the pointlessness of philosophising: “I came like Water, and like Wind I go”. Compare the reference to the Wind in John 3.8 (“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth…”); also the epitaph on the tomb of the poet John Keats in Rome: “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.”

Much less well known than the epitaph of Keats is the following verse by John Masefield, typewritten on a piece of paper addressed to his "Heirs, Administrators and Assigns", and found only after his death in 1967. Curiously, it asks that Water and Wind be allowed to disperse his ashes after cremation:

Let no religious rite be done or read
In any place for me when I am dead,
But burn my body into ash, and scatter
The ash in secret into running water,
Or on the windy down, and let none see;
And then thank God that there's an end of me.

Westminster Abbey London England

He didn't get his wish, of course - as Poet Laureate he was doomed to have his ashes interred in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, amidst traditional pomp and ceremony. Also ignored were his wishes regarding publication of his life and letters, as expressed in a short poem entitled "Sweet Friends", which poem became the last in the edition of the Collected Poems of John Masefield, first published by Heinemann in 1923:

Print not my life nor letters; put them by:
When I am dead let memory of me die.
Blessed be those who in their mercy heed
This heartfelt prayer of mine to Adam's Seed;
Blessed be they, but may a curse pursue
All who reject this living prayer, and do.

I like to explore the background of these quatrains by Omar Khayyam, but of course I have my sources to share this background with you all.

sunflowers bloom
seed of wisdom spread out
a new day rises

© Chèvrefeuille

Sorry for being late. This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 19th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on. I am on the nightshift so I hope to be on time tomorrow.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Wandering Spirit Challenge #1 daisan

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

A few weeks ago I asked your help with writing the daisan (third verse) for a renga which I, Yozakura, am writing together with my sensei Basho. He asked me to create the third verse with the moon as kigo. I had difficulties with creating that verse and so asked your help.

Together with Chèvrefeuille, your host, I have chosen for the daisan written by Dolores Fegan. We thought that verse fits the best. Let me give you the three first verses, including the daisan, here:

at dawn
birds sing their songs
dewdrops shimmer

cherry blossoms bloom again
shelter for young sparrows

the pale moon hangs
still fresh against the sky
trailing morning glories
                 (Yozakura with the help of Dolores)

I think this daisan gives Basho the possibility to create the next stanza. Thank you all for your help and Dolores ... congratulations. Chèvrefeuille will create a special Wandering Spirit episode in which your work will be highlighted.

Katajike nai, thank you

Carpe Diem Extra November 11th 2017 - judging "departure" kukai starts today

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It has taken some time, but today the judging is open for the "departure" kukai. You can find the submitted haiku for this "departure" kukai above in the menu or by clicking HERE.

There were 7 contestants who have written / submitted 18 haiku. It's not a long list this time. I don't feel the urge to create a new kukai at the moment, but that's more because of the low range of submissions this time.

The judging is open until November 25th at 10:00 PM (CET)


Chèvrefeuille, your host

Friday, November 10, 2017

Carpe Diem weekend-meditation #6 Kamishibai challenge "sunflower"

!!! Open for your submissions Sunday November 12th at 7:00 PM (CET) !!!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new weekend-meditation here at our Haiku Kai. This week's weekend-meditation I have a nice challenge for you ... a haibun ... Maybe you are a long-time participant of CDHK and than you will remember that we had a special feature titled "Kamishibai". That special feature was about haibun (prose and haiku). Let me tell you a little bit more about "Kamishibai" first.

Kamishibai (紙芝居), literally "paper drama", is a form of storytelling that originated in Japanese Buddhist temples in the 12th century, where monks used emakimono (picture scrolls) to convey stories with moral lessons to a mostly illiterate audience.
Kamishibai endured as a storytelling method for centuries, but is perhaps best known for its revival in the 1920s through the 1950s. The gaito kamishibaiya, or kamishibai storyteller, rode from village to village on a bicycle equipped with a small stage. On arrival, the storyteller used two wooden clappers, called hyoshigi, to announce his arrival. Children who bought candy from the storyteller got the best seats in front of the stage. Once an audience assembled, the storyteller told several stories using a set of illustrated boards, inserted into the stage and withdrawn one by one as the story was told. The stories were often serials and new episodes were told on each visit to the village.

Kamishibai performer
It's similar with haibun, but there is a difference. In haibun the poet describes his / her "adventures", like e,g, Basho did in his "Oku No Hosomichi" (Small Road Into The Deep North) in words, the Kamishibai-performer tells stories.

I love to challenge you this weekend to create / write a haibun, but there are a few rules:

First I will give you a haiku which you have to use, of course you can include a few other haiku created by yourself, but the given haiku (or an interpretation or revision of that haiku) you have to use.
Second The classical rules, for haiku, are to be used. Those rules you can find above in the menu in CD Lecture 1
Third Your haibun may have a maximum of 250 words (including the haiku).

"broken" sunflower

To give you a little bit more 'freedom' I have two haiku for you from which you can choose:

blooming sunflowers
reaching for the early light of the sun -
birds praise their Creator

© Chèvrefeuille

Or this one, also created by me:

broken sunflower
seeds spread all around his stem;
bringing joy next year

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... I hope you all have a wonderful weekend full of inspiration. Enjoy your weekend. This weekend-meditation is open for your submissions next Sunday November 12th at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until November 19th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, another nice quatrain written by Omar Khayyam, next Sunday around 7:00 PM (CET).

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Carpe Diem #1302 past regrets and future fears

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Another day has gone and here I am again, after a bad day of sleep, because I am on the nightshift, to create a new episode in our wonder Haiku Kai were we are a loving family of haiku poets. That love makes me proud. Five years ago I started CDHK and here we are still alive and kicking better than ever.

This month it's all about "The Rubaiyat" by Omar Khayyam, a 12th century Persian poet and scholar. It's his legacy we are using this month. Through his quatrains we get a glimpse of the time he lived in. And even today his work still renown and loved as we can see this month.

Omar Khayyam (image found on Pinterest)
Today I have another beautiful quatrain for you to work with. In this quatrain one of the themes of "The Rubaiyat" returns again, wine and drinking it. In one of the earlier episodes I shared already a few quatrains in which this theme is mentioned.

Let me give you the quatrain for today:

Ah! my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
TO-DAY of past Regrets and future Fears –
To-morrow? – Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n Thousand Years.

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


“The Cup that clears” = a glass of wine; the meaning is not unlike drinking to drown one’s sorrows over past regrets and future fears. The end of the verse seems to mean something like “tomorrow, the ‘me’ of today will just be another part of history”. According to some, in Omar Khayyam’s day, “yesterday’s 7000 years” was reckoned to be the number of years of human history that had elapsed since the creation of Adam and Eve, though FitzGerald, in his first edition, thought it signified 1000 years for each of the 7 planets.


Any reference to tomorrows and yesterdays almost inevitably recalls that famous speech from Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5) beginning:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.

As I read this quatrain I immediately became in touch with it. The scene described in  "the Cup that clears TO-DAY of past Regrets and future Fears" is recognizable. I think we all can relate to that scene. There was a time I drank to much to forget my sorrows, my problems ..., but there is always a way out. I "survived" that time through the (unconditional) love of my family and friends. There even came a day that I decided to never drink again. Of course a great goal to strive for, but a nice cold beer now and than I can really appreciate.

splash into wine

© Chèvrefeuille (experimental haiku)

A short episode maybe, but in it is a whole story to relate to, and I even think it's one of the quatrains that for sure can inspire you in a great way.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 16th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, a new weekend-meditation, later on. Have fun!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Carpe Diem #1301 River's Lip

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our Haiku Kai. This month it's all about "The Rubaiyat" by Omar Khayyam, a compilation of quatrains written by this renown Persian poet and scholar.
Yesterday I shared "The Rose" with you, a beautiful quatrain, but I also promised you a quatrain that makes "The Rose" complete. Yesterday's quatrain was verse 18 of "The Rubaiyat" and today's verse is quatrain 19. This quatrain concludes these two days.

Let me share the 19th verse of "The Rubaiyat" with you first:

And this delightful Herb whose tender Green
Fledges the River's Lip on which we lean –
Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)

leaves of green
At first I had some difficulties to understand this quatrain, but than I read that "River's Lip" means the "bank" of the river. I like that phrase, but will it help me to create haiku or tanka inspired on this quatrain?


This quatrain continues the theme of yesterday's verse – in effect it says that in sitting on a River Bank, just think that the Herb on which you sit might mark the spot where some unknown person died.
It is interesting that Walt Whitman, in the opening poem of Leaves of Grass (1855), imagines being asked by a child, “What is the grass ?”, and gives as one possible answer that it is “the beautiful uncut hair of graves.” He goes on:

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and from offspring taken soon out of their mothers' laps,
And here you are the mothers' laps.

The last two lines presumably signify that the bodies of dead infants, snatched by death from their mothers’ laps, themselves become ‘mothers’ in the sense that they generate new-born life in the grass that grows upon their graves.

Cover of Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass"

The joint theme of verses 18 and 19 is echoed in the following lines from Shelley’s Queen Mab:

There’s not one atom of yon earth
But once was living man;
Nor the minutest drop of rain,
That hangeth in its thinnest cloud,
But flowed in human veins.

Voltaire, in his article “Resurrection”, in his Philosophical Dictionary, uses this as an argument against resurrection: for how can the resurrected dead get their bodies back if those bodies have become incorporated into the bodies of those living at the time of the Resurrection?

This background sounds very religious, as are the two quatrains, and again I sense a kind of conflict in Omar Khayyam's mind. Is he a Muslim or a Christian? But on the other hand it could also be a reference to other religions like Hinduism or Buddhism ... the idea of reincarnation? 

on river's lip
hyacinths, grasses and other herbs
kisses of life

© Chèvrefeuille

What a joy it is to dive into the depths of "The Rubaiyat" by Omar Khayyam. I hope you will be inspired.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 15th at noon (CET). I will publish our new episode, an other nice quatrain, later on. Have fun!

Carpe Diem Extra November 8th 2017 response grade

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I am aware that you all are busy with the things you have to do, but it makes me a little bit sad that the response grade on the posts of this "The Rubaiyat" by Omar Khayyam month is low. Of course I do understand that it isn't an easy theme to work with, just because of the difficulties to distill haiku or tanka inspired on the quatrains by Khayyam.
I love creating the posts, but it takes a lot of my time, as it will take from yours to respond, but it would be awesome to read more responses this month.

Of course you are all free to participate or not, but ... well we, you all and myself, are creating CDHK together.

I am looking forward to your responses, but more ... I look forward to your responses on the quatrains by Omar Khayyam.

Than ... I am busy with creating our new CDHK month December 2017. That month will become another wonderful month. That month I will challenge you to create haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form inspired on quotes from the novels by Paulo Coelho. The preparations are taking time too, but I love it.

Soon to come: In cooperation with the FB-page My Haiku Pond a contest to create Troiku. Last night I spoke with the administrator of My Haiku Pond, Michael Smeer, about this contest. I will be the judge, together with Michael. I will keep you posted when this contest will start. You are invited already to participate in that Troiku Contest. I am honored that Michael Smeer asked me to create this contest.



Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Carpe Diem #1300 The Rose

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Today is another day in a wonderful world in which poetry is the leading character. A few minutes ago I stood almost naked in the freezing cold of a late autumn night. We had our first period of frost here in The Netherlands and this morning it was awesome. The sunrise was awesome and blue sky steel like. It was a great morning. And now this same feeling I had as I stood outside my house in the backyard watching the dark blue starry night. It was almost magical, but also a little bit sad, because the amount of city-lights takes away that wonderful sight of a starry night. Sometimes, mostly in this time of year (inbetween two seasons) I climb on my bike and cycle into the surrounding areas of my hometown. Just to see the stars, it is such an awesome sight to see the stars and the Milky Way, without the pollution of city-light. I am in a bit of melancholical mood I think, but I need that sometimes. Just meditate and contemplate about the things that matter ... and to find a little bit peace of mind after a very busy day at work.

Starry Night in Winter (painting by Van Gogh)
This was just to give an idea of the mood I am in, nothing wrong with by the way, nothing wrong with me neither.

Today I have the first of two quatrains by Omar Khayyam from "The Rubaiyat" which (in my opinion) cannot be seen apart, but maybe you think otherwise. The title of this episode I have extracted from the quatrain I use today. It's a beauty I think. Of course I will give you some background too (with a little bit help of wikipedia and bob forrest).

Hyacinth (image found on Pinterest)

Here is the quatrain for today:

I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled;
That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in its Lap from some once lovely Head.

© Omar Kayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


A poetic notion that the redness of a Rose is derived from the blood of some slaughtered King (Caesar) who died on the spot where it grows; that every Hyacinth marks the spot where some Beauty died. FitzGerald gives an interesting note on this in his 3rd and 4th editions of "The Rubaiyat":

[...] “Apropos of Omar's Red Roses...I am reminded of an old English Superstition, that our Anemone Pulsatilla, or purple ‘Pasque Flower’ (which grows plentifully about the Fleam Dyke, near Cambridge), grows only where Danish Blood has been spilt.” [...]

In Christian lore, Albertus Magnus wrote of “the rose made red by the blood of Christ in his Passion."  Likewise, St Louis de Montfort, in his devotional book The Secret of the Rosary, talks of the Rose made Red “because the Precious Blood of Our Lord has fallen upon it” (and of its thorns, which prick us to give us “pangs of conscience…in order to cure the illness of sin and to save our souls”!)

Red Rose

Again, the association of the colour red with blood led to the red rose becoming a symbol of martyrdom, the white rose, in contrast becoming a symbol of purity.
Both blood and fire enter into two different folktales of how the robin got its red breast, as Christina Hole tells us:

“The robin and the wren are both connected with fire, and an old legend tells how the wren braved the dangers of Hell to bring fire to mankind. He returned in flames, and the robin wrapped himself around the burning bird and so scorched himself that his breast has remained red ever since. Another story says the robin got his crimson breast by trying to draw a thorn from the Crown of Thorns; a drop of Our Lord’s blood fell on him and dyed his breast feathers for ever.”

In this explanation I also find a kind of reference to Shiki (1867-1902). Shiki suffered from tuberculosis (TB) much of his life. In 1888 or 1889 he began coughing up blood and soon he adopted the pen-name Shiki from the Japanese hototogisu, which is a word usually translated as cuckoo. It is a Japanese conceit that this bird coughs blood as it sings, which explains why the name "Shiki" was adopted.

Awesome ...

How to catch this in a haiku or tanka? It was really an ordeal to come up with my response, but I have given it a try:

red roses
all that remains
after the storm
between the walls
and my heart

© Chèvrefeuille (experimental tanka)

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 14th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, the follow up of this quatrain, later on.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Carpe Diem #1299 Snow On The Desert

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a joy to create another episode of our wonderful Haiku Kai, the place to be if you like to write and share Japanese poetry. This month it's all about the beauty of quatrains created by Omar Khayyam, a 12th century poet and scholar from Persia (nowadays Iran). I remember that we had a whole month full of beautiful Persian poetry and it was really a joy to create that month. I hope (of course) that this month about another great Persian poet will be as succesful.

"The Rubaiyat" is a compilation of about 100 quatrains, but Khayyam wrote around 2000 of those quatrains, but this month we will look only at "The Rubaiyat". I will try to give you some background (with the use of several sources) on the quatrains we will read and I hope I can inspire you.

Snow On The Desert
Todays episode I have titled "Snow On The Desert", and as every title this month, it's extracted from the quatrain I use. "Snow On The Desert", seems extraordinary, because it will not occur very often I think, but as I sought for images to use I ran into several images with "snow on the desert", so it seems that this is more often the case than I thought.

Okay ... time for a new quatrain to work with ... and I hope I have made the right choice for your inspiration.

The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes – or it prospers; and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert's dusty Face
Lighting a little Hour or two – is gone

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)


The aims of Worldly Hope are fleeting, no matter whether that hope ends in failure (burnt to Ashes) or success (for even success is like Snow, it melts and is gone all too soon.) Everything is transient.

The insignificance of human “Worldly Hope” was famously captured by Keats in his poem “When I have fears that I may cease to be” (1818), in the closing lines:

....then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think,
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

Longfellow was one of few poets who had a slightly more optimistic approach. In “A Psalm of Life” (1838) he wrote:

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Omar Khayyam (image found on Pinterest)

There are two views of Fame. Fame in its posthumous aspect is seen by some as one of the few ways of living on in this world after physical death, the most famous example of this view being Petrarch’s poem “The Triumph of Fame over Death”. The Roman poet Martial was not so sure of such a view. Posthumous fame is all very well, he felt, but you have to be dead to get it! In the Christian tradition, of course, “all is vanity”, so the quest for posthumous fame becomes a sin. Not only that, but in the long term even posthumous fame must fade and die with time, and so in this sense Death must ultimately triumph over Fame,

Omar Khayyam was a famous mathematician in his time for his outstanding contributions in algebra, but he wasn't renown as a poet in his time. Almost 100 years after his dead his poetry became renown, so in a way his fame for his poems was posthumous fame as described above, in the background of this quatrain.

Fame ... isn't that something we all strive for? As I started writing haiku I couldn't have dreamed that my haiku would be renown around the globe and that I would have a daily haiku meme, or better said, a daily meme on Japanese poetry. Does that mean that I have found what I was striving for? I don't know. Of course I am proud and happy that my haiku became famous, but fame? I am just a humble guy and I love to be your host and I love that my haiku became famous, but that will never change me as a person.

new life sprouts

Being famous is awesome, but it all will fade away some day and that's maybe my (new / other) goal to strive for ...

conquest of death
as snow melts away in the early spring
new life sprouts

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 13th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, another beautiful quatrain by Khayyam, later on. For now ... have fun!

(Source: wikipedia; bob forrest web)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Carpe Diem #1298 Fire of Spring

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I hope you have had a wonderful weekend, I had for sure a great weekend. I am looking forward to your responses on our weekend-meditation, but even more I am looking forward to your responses on this new (regular) episode. This month we are exploring "The Rubaiyat" by Omar Khayyam, a 'gathering' of quatrains. This month I try to create posts based on my own insights, but also based on several sources. Why? Well ... I am not that familiar with the work of Khayyam, so I just need to use other sources.

Today I skip again a few of the quatrains and I love to share with you quatrain 7. This episode I have titled "Fire of Spring", the title is extracted from this 7th quatrain. I was immediately caught by those words in this quatrain. What does it mean "Fire of Spring"? Well I have given it a thought and I think I can explain why these words are used.

Fire of Spring by Kyokophotos (Image found on DeviantArt)

"Fire of Spring" means in my opinion the return of life after winter. Nature rises like a phoenix from its ashes. Flowers bloom, trees start to get leaves again and blossoms. It's a "fire work" of colors as spring brings new life. But ... on the other hand I also can explain this as a reference to the resurrection of the Lord. Isn't that what spring is? The Son of God arose from the dead giving humanity a new life, He was the source of our rebirth. So maybe this is also what "Fire of Spring" means. Maybe it points also to Mohammad, the Prophet, who got the revalation of the Qu'ran and started preaching Islam. There are so many meanings to discover in "The Rubaiyat" so many layers. And isn't that what we try to bring into our haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry forms?

Let me give you the quatrain to work with:

Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly – and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing

© Omar Khayyam (Tr. FitzGerald)

Fire of Spring (shutterstock)

“Come fill the Cup” – the eat, drink and be merry theme again; don’t regret the past (Winter), live for today (Spring) – for life is short. “The Bird of Time” image is very neat.

Similar sentiments are to be found in John Gay’s The Beggars Opera (1728), in the second verse of the 22nd Air:

Let us drink and sport to-day,
Ours is not tomorrow.
Love with youth flies swift away,
Age is nought but sorrow.
Dance and sing,
Time's on the wing,
Life never knows the return of spring.

© John Gay

In this quatrain I also sense something of "Seize the Day", or "Carpe Diem", isn't that a nice coincedence? A quatrain in which our Kai is hidden. In one of the sources I use there is also a phrase that describes "Carpe Diem".

Lord Byron made a famous use of “carpe diem” in a letter to John Cam Hobhouse, written from Bologna, and dated August 20th, 1819:

[...] “My time has been passed viciously and agreeably – at thirty-one so few years months days hours or minutes remain that ‘carpe diem,’ is not enough – I have been obliged to crop even the seconds – for who can trust to tomorrow? tomorrow quotha? to-hour – to minute –- I can not repent me (I try very often) so much of any thing I have done – as of any thing I have left undone – alas! I have been but idle – and have the prospect of early decay – without having seized every available instant of our pleasurable year.- This is a bitter thought – and it will be difficult for me ever to recover the despondency into which this idea naturally throws me.” [...] (Byron’s Letters and Journals, edited by Leslie A. Marchand (1976)

first day of spring
days become longer
time flies

© Chèvrefeuille

I hope you did like this episode and I hope that I have inspired you to create haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 12th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, another beautiful verse from "The Rubaiyat", later on.

(Sources: Wikipedia; Bob Forrest Com)