12 Free-Verse Haiku by Taneda Santoka
I copy some free-verse haiku from Taneda Santoka (1882-1940). The English version is done by Burton Watson in the book For All My Walking (Columbia UP, 2003)The meaning of this Japanese begging monk is actually “the fire on the peak of a hill (santoka)” and the surname meaning “sowing the field (taneda).” The so called free-verse haiku means that the haiku does not have to be of the 5-7-5 syllables with a season word.
1）天无云/ 透过一杯清酒/ 颜色在深处！（最后直译：那颜色多么深！）
cloudless sky/ peer through a glass of hard liquor/that deep color!
My Comments: Because of the wine, the colorless color lies in the depth! If you have love in the depth of your heart, hatred and love will have no traits, lying in the deep.
wind from the sea/ butterflies in embankment weeds/ never resting
My comments: The triad of wind, weeds and butterflies can be analogous to that of vague, hearts and everyday deeds.
3）夫妻斗嘴间/ 入夜/ 蜘蛛吊下来
husband and wife quarreling/ night/ spiders dangle down
My comments: Then comes a tehee! The spider bounces back.
4）那么静谧的街道/ 一个坑/ 挖在中间
so still the street/ big hole/ dug in it
My Comments: Once, the streetlamps cast down yellowish light. Those leather shoes had added iron heels, walking to make clattering sounds. And then you may even imagine a girl holding a purple umbrella walking the alley…
5）米的白/ 腌梅的红/ 两色的宝（直译：这些珍宝）
whiteness of the rice/ red of pickled plum/ these treasures!
My Comments: Do you miss the bittersweet of the green vegetable newly plucked out of the snow-covered garden?
6）下雪时节/ 踏上归途/ 修书一封寄妻子
come home/ in falling snow/ write my wife a letter
MY Comments: In the age of “reservation” and “real time,” all my future deeds are already under her eyes. The concerned care and love accumulated because of uncertainty and indetermination have long been killed. What can now be accumulated is suspicion.
7）愈行愈深/ 愈行愈深/ 青山如黛
the deeper I go/ the deeper I go/ green mountains
My Comments: Enter the depth of colors, enter the depth of the true color of the woman. Two results: live to the depth of life or die inside in the deep.
8）潮气浸入表皮/ 此处惟有石头/ 指路
wet to the skin/ the stone here/ pointing out the path
My Comments: The skull is also a white rock, placed at the end of the line, waiting for the next….
9）头顶烈日/ 一路行/ 一路乞讨
blazing sky above me/ walking/ begging
My Comments: Blessed are those with a heart of mirth and those with respect for those who abandon the society. They are god. We are all begging at him.
10）胡枝子一片！/ 蒲草一片！/ 我都走过了
bush clover!/ pampas grass!/ I’m coming through
My Comments: Whether it be flowers or grasses, even if you do not walk by, they will wither and dry. The point is, when we are passing by, they are in bloom.
11）清水浸脚/ 清水/ 最醇
wobbly on my feet/ the good taste/ of water
My Comments: I believe it is the feet that are tasting the water. Sometimes, we should not let the mouth monopolize the function of tasting, nor the eyes the function of seeing.
12）不看/ 月亮也西沉/ 我独自一人（直译刚好相反：看着月亮西沉/ 我独自一人）
Watching the moon/ go down/ me alone
My Comments: My Chinese version reads: even if I am not watching the moon going down, I am still alone. Right now, does it matter whether there are stars or moon outside the window?