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Asian Poetry ... for inspiration!


tonyv
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Inspired by Goldenlangur's recent HAIKU CHALLENGE in the Poetry Playground, I have become motivated to learn more about the fascinating world of Asian poetry. An abundance of information on all forms Asian can be found in the Reference section, within Tinker's Verse Forms archive, and I hope to apply to my own writing that which I learn from there, from my books, and from the members right here at PMO. Whether or not I can write something competent in the Asian forms remains to be seen, but I hope that, overall, my writing will improve as a result of what I learn.

 

Burton Raffel's book How to Read a Poem contains several fine examples of Asian poems. On page 24, Raffel discusses the following haiku by Meisetsu, translated by R.H. Blyth:

 

 

With a lantern,

Someone walking in the night,

Through the plum trees.

 

 

He states that, "This haiku -- like most things in Japanese art and Japanese culture -- works as much with what is not in the poem as it does with what is there. The details are sensual, immediate ..." He goes on to describe precisely why, and then concludes that, "This is as perfectly a Japanese poem as one is likely ever to find ... and in ultimate meaning, the poem is readily comprehensible to any human being anywhere."

 

Raffel then provides one of the saddest poems I have ever read, by Chinese poet DU MU, translated by C.H. Kwock and Vincent McHugh:

 

 

Parting Gift

 

Much love

---------------why did it seem no love at all?

Over the last bottle, nothing;

------------------------------------could not rouse a smile

 

The candle

---------------gracious enough to regret our parting

made tears for us

-----------------------Dawn came in awhile

 

 

 

Raffel explains, "There is quite as much left unsaid as there is actually said. There is no way to know why the lovers are parting, or even whether they are parting voluntarily or are being forced to separate ... In most poems, the coming of dawn is a good sign, the reappearance of light, and day, and life. In this poem, dawn is the equivalent -- never precisely stated but nevetheless clear -- of the dreaded moment of final, irreversible parting" Indeed, so much is said by that which is left unsaid.

 

There is so much to learn, and inspiration is all around. Harness it!

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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goldenlangur

Tony, you're very generous in your acknowledgment of my efforts. But without the enthusiasm and initial haiku posts of Lake and your and Aleksandra's participation the haiku challenge would have all but petered out. So my deep gratitude to you all.

 

Thank you for giving us this opportunity to explore the myriad Asian forms - I hope Bloodyday/Rony and summayya will share with us the Ghazal and the Rubaiyat.

 

I do like the idea of the How to Read a Poem - must confess I have not read any such books - a big lacuna in my poetry reading. Could I shara a few of the translated works of Issa (my favorite of the Haiku Masters):

 

The Year of My Life -A translation of Issa's Oraga Haru by NOBUYUKI YUASA (University of California Press)

 

Inch by Inch - 45 haiku by Issa - translated by Nanao Sakaki (La Almaeda Press)

 

The Dumpling Field - translated by Lucien Stryk and Noboru Fujiwara (Swallow Press - Ohio University Press)

 

Look forward to some fun with the various Asian forms which Tinker has researched extensively in the archive forums.

 

goldenlangur

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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Aleksandra

Tony, thank you a lot for this wonderful thread, and bw thank you for opening this forum for literary discussions. Asian poetry is one of the most interesting fields in poetry. There is always much to learn about. With all our efforts we are doing better and better. If someone looks into some haiku can say: ah what a big deal to write this icon_biggrin.png, but when you try - you can see it is a big deal icon_smile.gif. It's not simple at all to write correct haiku or any of these Asian forms. So it's lovely to have these threads what can be more than useful.

I admire you how you read books Tony. I know your home library and I am not surprised how much you are interested in everything and that gives you a lot of knowledge what can be seen here and everywhere.

 

GL I respect the fact that when you have some favorite poet, you read more and more by the same one, that can make you a master for his / her work.

 

I feel not so comfortable to talk here a lot icon_smile.gif, because I am far behind you guys icon_biggrin.png. But I am watching on you and learning all what I can icon_wink.gif

 

Aleksandra

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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goldenlangur

Hello Aleksandra,

 

We're all learning so please don't feel uncomfortable.

 

 

Aleksandra wrote:

 

I feel not so comfortable to talk here a lot
icon_smile.gif
, because I am far behind you guys
icon_biggrin.png
. But I am watching on you and learning all what I can
icon_wink.gif

 

Aleksandra

 

Perhaps instead of being ruled by the rules of the Asian forms, we should just share what we like and enjoy and then have fun trying these forms out.

 

 

Without your participation it would not be the same.

 

 

goldenlangur

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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Aleksandra

Thank you goldenlangur for your words. You are right when you say that we should just share and enjoy, at least. I am doing that icon_smile.gif. But sure I wish I was better, but seems harder to do that in English especially when we talk about haiku form.

 

Anyway it's good when we talk about this. Our inspiration grows icon_smile.gif

 

Aleksandra

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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Hi Goldenlangur,

Tony, you're very generous in your acknowledgment of my efforts. But without the enthusiasm and initial haiku posts of Lake and your and Aleksandra's participation the haiku challenge would have all but petered out. So my deep gratitude to you all.

We do have some wonderful participation taking place, indeed! icon_biggrin.png I loved Lake's "Wintersong" haiku series!

I hope Bloodyday/Rony and summayya will share with us the Ghazal and the Rubaiyat.

I hope so, too!

 

And thank you also for the sharing the titles of some of your favorite Issa translations. I'll check out your suggestions next time I'm at the bookstore, which I hope will be soon!

 

Tony icon_smile.gif

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Hello Alek,

 

Thank you for helping to set up the literary discussion forum. icon_smile.gif

Aleksandra wrote:

Asian poetry is one of the most interesting fields in poetry. There is always much to learn about. With all our efforts we are doing better and better. If someone looks into some haiku can say: ah what a big deal to write this
icon_biggrin.png
, but when you try - you can see it is a big deal
icon_smile.gif
. It's not simple at all to write correct haiku or any of these Asian forms. So it's lovely to have these threads what can be more than useful.

I agree. I still want to write a haibun some day!

Aleksandra wrote:

I feel not so comfortable to talk here a lot
icon_smile.gif
, because I am far behind you guys
icon_biggrin.png
. But I am watching on you and learning all what I can
icon_wink.gif

Oh, enough! Aleksandre. I know almost nothing about the subject, and I started the topic! So, you can stop all the "I feel not so comfortable to talk here a lot" rhetoric. icon_rolleyes.gif Thank you for your fantastic thoughts always!

 

Tony icon_smile.gif

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Hello Aleksandra,

 

We're all learning so please don't feel uncomfortable.

 

 

Aleksandra wrote:

 

I feel not so comfortable to talk here a lot
icon_smile.gif
, because I am far behind you guys
icon_biggrin.png
. But I am watching on you and learning all what I can
icon_wink.gif

 

Aleksandra

 

Perhaps instead of being ruled by the rules of the Asian forms, we should just share what we like and enjoy and then have fun trying these forms out.

 

 

Without your participation it would not be the same.

 

 

goldenlangur

 

I second that!

 

Tony icon_smile.gif

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Thank you goldenlangur for your words. You are right when you say that we should just share and enjoy, at least. I am doing that icon_smile.gif. But sure I wish I was better, but seems harder to do that in English especially when we talk about haiku form.

 

Anyway it's good when we talk about this. Our inspiration grows icon_smile.gif

 

Aleksandra

 

Agreed! I'm inspired, now I just have to write!

 

Tony icon_idea.png

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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goldenlangur

The rules of the haiku and tanka have changed and evolved through the years, making it possible for writers in languages other than Japanese to turn out respectable haiku and tanka.

 

In the case of the syllable count - a point much bandied about - both haiku and tanka in English do not follow a 5 7 5 (haiku) and plus 7 7 (tanka). Rather the options are:

 

free style - syllable counts in each line discarded but overall the haiku has to have 17 syllables) and the tanka (21to 31).

 

or line lengths of:

 

long, short long (haiku) and long short long, long, long (tanka)

 

 

Off to find some examples icon_smile.gif

 

 

 

goldenlangur

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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goldenlangur

Looking forward to a tanka writing challenge then!

 

goldenlangur

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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Thanks for this thread Tony, even though I show up very late to contribute. There is much to learn from Asian poetry. The most important lesson I learned after all of my research is "focus". Asian poetry doesn't get all caught up in rhetoric, instead of words for words sake, its simplicity or cleanliness of form seems pure to me. The Chinese and Japanese forms in particular force the poet to stay true to the subject.

 

Of course Asian poetry is so much more than the ancient verse forms that I reasearched. Even without the confines of verse form, counting syllables, limiting lines, Asian poetry in general has a focused clarity.

 

"Poetry" by Xu Yu'nuo 1893-1958

 

Gently carrying these strange short poems,

I slowly walk into the woods.

Birds nod to me silently;

Worms cast glances at me.

I enter the woods deeper and darker,

Stealthily place these strange things on damp grass.

 

Behold! The worms in the woods

Stretch out their heads one by one,

Leafletes open their eyes one by one.

The music is confusingly beautiful;

In the woods, here, there,

Everywhere is interwoven with the marvellous, mysterious threads of poetry.

 

Tree Shaded Path by Lin LIng b1938

 

Who has arranged the landscape under my feet --

The openness of the plains, the boundlessness of the hills?

Oh, sunlight is spread out like dense weeds.

 

I love only the narrow path in the midst of the grove,

I love onlits meandering and the shades blocking the sky.

Poetry is perchance a shaded path

and so is memory

 

I often wander there, although

I often get tired of it, too.

 

Each poem is an "organic whole", very typical of Asian poetry.

 

~~Tink

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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goldenlangur

Hi Tink,

 

Your research is such a treasure trove and thank you for sharing it. The two poets you've posted here are excellent examples of how simple, clear images are used in the Asian forms to evoke feelings, reflection and that subsuming of the ego as a part of a larger whole rather than the core of the universe or situation.

 

Although, religion has a rather bad press re: the rise of fundamentalism and also the thinking classes, in both the west and the east, expound a relatavistic moral viewpoint and treat religion with scepticism, many of the Asian forms have their roots in Zen, Buddhist, Sufi and Hindu traditions, where the ego/self does not subsist on its own right (pratitya samutpada - also trans. as dependent origination) but in an inter-relatedness with other entities. This, in whatever little experience I have, is at the heart of the simplicity, focus on the now and the careful use of words shorn of literary devices like over use of rhetorical figures of speech and a self-conscious opacity (Pound's work is an example).

 

Your point here encapsulates this very well:

 

Asian poetry in general has a focused clarity.

 

Also each poem is

organic

 

The feeling, thinking continue beyond the poem and the poet. In a way, the poet/poem is just the trigger for what is inherent in each of us.

 

 

 

Thank you so much for this enriching exchange of ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

goldenlangur

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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Hi Tinker,

 

I really appreciate your openness to other poetry genres and your consistent research effort. As Golden said, your words regarding Asian Poetry, "focused on clarity" and "organic whole" have summarized your findings well. I find a lot of western writers incorporate the eastern philosophy and poetry aesthetics into their own poems and vice versa.

 

Thanks everyone for the discussion.

 

Lake

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Aleksandra

Hello Tinker, GL, Lake. A worthy discussion you have here. Tinker, the poems what you shared here are amazing and both really works to get the point of the subject. As you said: " Each poem is an "organic whole", very typical of Asian poetry. " - exactly.

 

Goldenlangur - how wonderful this is expressed:

Although, religion has a rather bad press re: the rise of fundamentalism and also the thinking classes, in both the west and the east, expound a relatavistic moral viewpoint and treat religion with scepticism, many of the Asian forms have their roots in Zen, Buddhist, Sufi and Hindu traditions, where the ego/self does not subsist on its own right (pratitya samutpada - also trans. as dependent origination) but in an inter-relatedness with other entities.

 

-- thank you.

 

Aleksandra

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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