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Re: Translating Issa at Matsushima

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  • lbolenyc
    ... end. ... haiku ... A few thoughts... I m not sure that: matsushima ya aa matsuhima ya matsushima ya is by Basho. According to a website:
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 3, 2008
      --- In translatinghaiku@yahoogroups.com, "Greve Gabi"
      <gokurakuatworldkigo@...> wrote:
      >
      > matsushima ya hito kobushi-zutsu aki no kure
      >
      > little pine islands
      > fist after fist...
      > autumn dusk
      >
      > by Issa, 1811
      >
      > Issa is referring to Matsushima, the famous sightseeing resort
      > consisting of many tiny pine islands. Issa imagines that they look
      > like fists jutting up from the water. While the Japanese reader will
      > instantly get a mental picture from the proper name, Matsushima, the
      > English reader may or may not. For this reason I have translated the
      > name literally as "pine island." In an undated rewrite, Issa starts
      > the poem with the phrase shima-jima: "islands." The third phrase of
      > this haiku, aki no kure, means both "autumn night" and "autumn's
      end."
      >
      > Tr. David Lanoue
      > http://cat.xula.edu/issa/
      > ............................
      >
      >
      > More about this famous and beautiful area of Japan and some of its
      haiku
      > http://wkdhaikutopics.blogspot.com/2008/03/matsushima.html
      >
      >
      > I was wondering about this translation for a while, remembering our
      > discussion of the translation of place names.
      > I would tend to argue the HAIKU reader knows about Matsushima ...
      >
      > how about such a version
      >
      > Matsushima ya
      > small islands of fist-size
      > in the autumn sunset
      >
      >
      > about
      > translating place names
      > http://happyhaiku.blogspot.com/2000/07/translating-haiku-forum.html
      >
      >
      > any suggestions are welcome !
      > GABI


      A few thoughts...

      I'm not sure that:

      matsushima ya aa matsuhima ya matsushima ya

      is by Basho.

      According to a website:

      http://homepage.ntlworld.com/dmitrismirnov/Appendix.html

      "This poem is famous as a Basho's haiku but in fact belongs to
      another poet. (© Isao Yasuda)"

      Except for Blyth, the other major translators of Basho's haiku into
      English, such as Ueda, Barnhill, Henderson, and Shirane, do not
      include this haiku in their translations of Basho's haiku.

      I'd appreciate it if anyone can tell me where this haiku appears in
      Basho's work.

      However, Basho did write the following haiku about Matsushima, which
      is one of my favorite of his, which appears in his
      haibun "Matsushima":

      shimajima ya chiji ni kudakete natsu no umi

      islands and islands--
      shattered into a thousand pieces,
      summer's sea

      Basho, trans. Barnhill


      In addition to the twelve or so haiku, which Lanoue has so far
      translated, by Issa on the subject of Matsushima, here are a couple
      translated by Lewis MacKenzie:

      Nomi domo ni
      Matsushima misete
      Nigasu zo yo

      Come on, Fleas,
      I'll show you Matsushima--
      Then let you go.

      Issa, trans. MacKenzie

      Meigetsu ya
      Matsu nai shima mo
      Atama kazu

      A radiant moon!
      I can count them over too
      The islets without pines.

      Issa, trans. MacKenzie


      Yagi Kametaro (1908-1986), in his book, "Haiku: Messages from
      Matsuyama," has a brief essay titled, "Proper Names in Japanese
      Haiku."

      Some exerpts I find interesting:

      "...However, it does not follow that haiku is saturated with Zen. R.
      H. Blyth tried to see something of Zen philosophy in haiku, but Zen's
      influence on haiku has never been as dominant as he supposed. Among
      present-day Japanese haiku devotees, most know nothing of Zen. Anyway
      it is extremely difficult to try to define haiku in terms of some
      philosophical essence.

      "In order to emphasize the particular, Japanese haikuists often use
      proper names. In a collection of Basho's haiku that lies at hand,
      thirty-four of the ninety-eight contain proper names. I count fewer
      in a book of Issa's haiku, but both men frequently made topical
      reference understood as proper names. Masaoka Shiki, too, used proper
      names to make his haiku specific...

      [Kametaro then gives a couple of Shiki's haiku, with explanations, as
      examples]

      "Many proper names have been recognized as season-words; some have
      become obsolete but others are being added. For example, the
      Hototgisu School of haiku recently recognized 'ogi-kuyo' as a local
      season-word for winter...

      "The nature of haiku, with its limitations in time and place,
      naturally invites the haikuist to use local names. Unlike Western
      poets, haikuists have never presumed that their efforts would reach a
      nationwide audience. All through its history, haiku has been a
      literature of a limited group (called 'renju') who were familiar with
      the local names of their area and enjoyed using them in their haiku.
      (October, 1974)" [end of exerpts]

      I'm not sure I agree with this last statement, since Basho and other
      haiku poets traveled extensively, and brought back to their local
      haiku groups haiku which sometimes included non-local place names.

      If one is translating for haiku aficionados, then "Matsuhima" would
      work. If one is translating for a larger audience, then "pine
      islands" would be helpful, although one would probably want to add an
      explanatory note anyway; so why not just start with "Matsushima?"

      So I suggest: translate "Matsushima" as "Matsushima," and
      translate "shimajima" as "pine islands" (with an explanatory note
      appended).

      Larry
    • Greve Gabi
      Dear Larry, thanks again for being such a dilligent student of haiku. Indeed, I made a mistake about the famous MATSUSHIMA. It should read Matsushima ya aa
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 3, 2008
        Dear Larry,
        thanks again for being such a dilligent student of haiku.

        Indeed, I made a mistake about the famous MATSUSHIMA.

        It should read

        Matsushima ya
        aa Matsushima ya
        Matsushima ya

        attributed to Kyoka-Writer Monk Tahara Bo (Tahara Boo)


        There is also this version by Monk Tahara Bo

        Matsushima ya sate matsushima ya Matsushima ya


        Other sources say the author of this famous poem is not known.

        http://wkdhaikutopics.blogspot.com/2008/03/matsushima.html


        matsushima ya tsuru ni mi o kare hototogisu

        At Matsushima
        Borrow your plumes from the crane
        O nightingales!

        Sora (Tr. Donald Keene)



        I will check more Matsushima Haiku later, there are plenty more ...

        GABI


        > >
        > > matsushima ya hito kobushi-zutsu aki no kure
        > >
        > > little pine islands
        > > fist after fist...
        > > autumn dusk
        > >
        > > by Issa, 1811
        > >
        > > Issa is referring to Matsushima, the famous sightseeing resort
        > > consisting of many tiny pine islands. Issa imagines that they look
        > > like fists jutting up from the water. While the Japanese reader will
        > > instantly get a mental picture from the proper name, Matsushima, the
        > > English reader may or may not. For this reason I have translated the
        > > name literally as "pine island." In an undated rewrite, Issa starts
        > > the poem with the phrase shima-jima: "islands." The third phrase of
        > > this haiku, aki no kure, means both "autumn night" and "autumn's
        > end."
        > >
        > > Tr. David Lanoue
        > > http://cat.xula.edu/issa/
        > > ............................
        > >
        > >
        > > More about this famous and beautiful area of Japan and some of its
        > haiku
        > > http://wkdhaikutopics.blogspot.com/2008/03/matsushima.html
        > >
        > >
        > > I was wondering about this translation for a while, remembering our
        > > discussion of the translation of place names.
        > > I would tend to argue the HAIKU reader knows about Matsushima ...
        > >
        > > how about such a version
        > >
        > > Matsushima ya
        > > small islands of fist-size
        > > in the autumn sunset
        > >
        > >
        > > about
        > > translating place names
        > > http://happyhaiku.blogspot.com/2000/07/translating-haiku-forum.html
        > >
        > >
        > > any suggestions are welcome !
        > > GABI
        >
        >
        > A few thoughts...
        >
        > I'm not sure that:
        >
        > matsushima ya aa matsuhima ya matsushima ya
        >
        > is by Basho.
        >
        > According to a website:
        >
        > http://homepage.ntlworld.com/dmitrismirnov/Appendix.html
        >
        > "This poem is famous as a Basho's haiku but in fact belongs to
        > another poet. ((c) Isao Yasuda)"
        >
        > Except for Blyth, the other major translators of Basho's haiku into
        > English, such as Ueda, Barnhill, Henderson, and Shirane, do not
        > include this haiku in their translations of Basho's haiku.
        >
        > I'd appreciate it if anyone can tell me where this haiku appears in
        > Basho's work.
        >
        > However, Basho did write the following haiku about Matsushima, which
        > is one of my favorite of his, which appears in his
        > haibun "Matsushima":
        >
        > shimajima ya chiji ni kudakete natsu no umi
        >
        > islands and islands--
        > shattered into a thousand pieces,
        > summer's sea
        >
        > Basho, trans. Barnhill
        >
        >
        > In addition to the twelve or so haiku, which Lanoue has so far
        > translated, by Issa on the subject of Matsushima, here are a couple
        > translated by Lewis MacKenzie:
        >
        > Nomi domo ni
        > Matsushima misete
        > Nigasu zo yo
        >
        > Come on, Fleas,
        > I'll show you Matsushima--
        > Then let you go.
        >
        > Issa, trans. MacKenzie
        >
        > Meigetsu ya
        > Matsu nai shima mo
        > Atama kazu
        >
        > A radiant moon!
        > I can count them over too
        > The islets without pines.
        >
        > Issa, trans. MacKenzie
        >
        >
        > Yagi Kametaro (1908-1986), in his book, "Haiku: Messages from
        > Matsuyama," has a brief essay titled, "Proper Names in Japanese
        > Haiku."
        >
        > Some exerpts I find interesting:
        >
        > "...However, it does not follow that haiku is saturated with Zen. R.
        > H. Blyth tried to see something of Zen philosophy in haiku, but Zen's
        > influence on haiku has never been as dominant as he supposed. Among
        > present-day Japanese haiku devotees, most know nothing of Zen. Anyway
        > it is extremely difficult to try to define haiku in terms of some
        > philosophical essence.
        >
        > "In order to emphasize the particular, Japanese haikuists often use
        > proper names. In a collection of Basho's haiku that lies at hand,
        > thirty-four of the ninety-eight contain proper names. I count fewer
        > in a book of Issa's haiku, but both men frequently made topical
        > reference understood as proper names. Masaoka Shiki, too, used proper
        > names to make his haiku specific...
        >
        > [Kametaro then gives a couple of Shiki's haiku, with explanations, as
        > examples]
        >
        > "Many proper names have been recognized as season-words; some have
        > become obsolete but others are being added. For example, the
        > Hototgisu School of haiku recently recognized 'ogi-kuyo' as a local
        > season-word for winter...
        >
        > "The nature of haiku, with its limitations in time and place,
        > naturally invites the haikuist to use local names. Unlike Western
        > poets, haikuists have never presumed that their efforts would reach a
        > nationwide audience. All through its history, haiku has been a
        > literature of a limited group (called 'renju') who were familiar with
        > the local names of their area and enjoyed using them in their haiku.
        > (October, 1974)" [end of exerpts]
        >
        > I'm not sure I agree with this last statement, since Basho and other
        > haiku poets traveled extensively, and brought back to their local
        > haiku groups haiku which sometimes included non-local place names.
        >
        > If one is translating for haiku aficionados, then "Matsuhima" would
        > work. If one is translating for a larger audience, then "pine
        > islands" would be helpful, although one would probably want to add an
        > explanatory note anyway; so why not just start with "Matsushima?"
        >
        > So I suggest: translate "Matsushima" as "Matsushima," and
        > translate "shimajima" as "pine islands" (with an explanatory note
        > appended).
        >
        > Larry
        >
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