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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hanatō's Cat Haikus

Many people the world over revere the Japanese poet Bashō (1644 - 1694), master of the Haiku. Bashō was to the Haiku what Shake-speare was to the sonnet - in some sense simultaneously creating the form and perfecting it.

Not as many are familiar with Bashō's contemporary, Hanatō Fukui (1650 - 1713).

Among Hanatō's most famous works are his "Ode To Milk", "Rumination On An Infection", and, of course, his "Argument Against Mildness". He is most renowned however for his sequence of cat Haikus, written throughout his life and finally collected and published posthumously in 1733 in a volume entitled simply "The Edo Cat Haikus". The original work featured illustrations that Hanatō himself had executed over many years.

We feature today a sampling of three of Hanatō's magnificent pieces, from the new translation by Trini Savitch:

So many cats around,
So many goddamn cats.
They're freaking me out.


I wake in the ditch,
Face-down in fishy vomit.
Mine? The alley cat's?


Cat licks his behind.
Full moon makes all pure and white.
Cat licks his behind.

(look for the published "The Edo Cat Haikus" at your local bookstore in Spring 2006)

Hanatō's Cat Haikus, Pt. 2

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Awesome! That Hanato was a true visionary.

- By Blogger Warren, at Wed Sep 14, 09:46:00 PM GMT+1  

those are fricking funny

- By Anonymous d.c., at Wed Sep 14, 09:46:00 PM GMT+1  

Yes, that Hanato sure knew what he was doing. Did you know that once, as a spiritual practice, he ate nothing but onions for 18 months?

- By Blogger Neal Romanek, at Thu Sep 22, 07:55:00 PM GMT+1  

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