- my autumn - one leaf autumn



not much
and yet
my autumn


63 persimmons
high up in the tree -
reflecting my life

November 3, my birthday


review by Susumu Takiguchi, WHR December 2011

not much
and yet
my autumn

Gabi Greve

The Editor’s Choice in this issue of World Haiku Review does not come from usual submissions. Rather, it comes from the flagship of the World Haiku Club: WHCworkshop. This is a general and free discussion forum (mailing list) where members enjoy showing their works, doing c & c, exchange views, debate haiku issues etc.

The author is well-known. A German scholar in Buddhist studies, she lives a paradise-like life (gokuraku=paradise) in an idyll of a countryside in Japan where she has taken up long residence. Her exceptionally keen interest in and devotion to haiku can only be matched by her deep love for her cats.

I am presenting this haiku here for a number of specific reasons. Firstly, it may well pass unnoticed, or be rejected, by poets deeply influenced by American-led haiku trend as it may not mean much to them and/or it may violate their rules: “Show, not tell”, “my” autumn is wrong etc. All too often these rules are poor compensation for not being able to grasp the most important thing about haiku, i.e. haiku spirit or the essence of haiku, which is elusive, obscure and mysterious for them. Gabi Greve is one of the few poets who have been lucky enough to grasp haiku spirit from which her poems naturally emerge. Her haiku do not normally emanate from rules, except for fundamental Japanese haiku conventions (i.e. an integral part of the constitution of haiku) such as kigo. She is a natural. However, this does not mean that one can forget or overlook the fact that she has made tremendous efforts in her study of haiku.

Secondly, if this haiku poem does not much appeal to the American-led haiku followers, one important reason may lie in the power of kigo (season word). For those who deny or are insensitive to kigo, to present this haiku is to cast pearls before swine. At least half the job in the haiku is done by the kigo which silently speaks volumes about the circumstances and the stories associated with it.

Thirdly, as was already indicated, many might object the “my” in line 3 on account of another rule that one’s “self” must not appear in a haiku. The trouble is that this same “my” is what makes this poem a haiku and a superior one at that. Every Japanese haiku poet would react to it favourably. There have been a countless number of haiku having “self” appearing in them. Gabi Greve’s haiku has an especial resonance with Issa of course but the sentiment is universal in Japan.

Fourthly, the excellence of this haiku and the difficulty it might have in being appreciated by non-Japanese haiku poets may both be due to the fact that Gabi Greve has lived in Japan for a long time, speaks good Japanese, trained as a haijin under the tutelage of Japanese haiku masters, studied classical haiku and is versed in all aspects of Japanese culture. In other words, she has learned haiku in the right and proper way. No doubt, other non-Japanese haiku poets living outside Japan would not have such a privilege as she enjoys but they can at least emulate her and make some efforts to learn haiku as properly as their circumstances allow.

Fifthly, as Gabi Greve has a stringent policy of never sending her haiku poems for publication to magazines and competitions I have taken the initiative of asking her if she would permit me to introduce this particular haiku here to wider audience.

Sixthly, as far as my understanding goes Gabi Greve wishes to be as free as possible from any particular haiku school or haiku style, such as the minimalist, the four-line school, one-liner, S-L-S form or any other rigid and dogmatic position. I thoroughly approve this stance of hers and wish to go so far as to say that many more should follow suit. My way of saying the same thing, as I have done in many of my writings, is:
Each haiku is different as each child is different. Let each haiku develop as it wants to develop itself without imposing preconceived or fixed rules, ideas, policies etc. This would often solve such questions as the lengths and patterns of each line, choice of words, kigo or not kigo, the order of lines and words. It is just like letting each child develop as it wants to develop instead of imposing parents’ will, decisions, or preconceived ways of child-rearing, especially wishful thinking, or their own unfulfilled wishes. Some people such as, I suspect, Gabi Greve do this naturally or instinctively. Others can learn (with not an insignificant efforts) how to do it. Simply put, give yourself freedom you deserve, and then, and only then, give each haiku freedom it deserves. Do not put the cart (rules, preconceived ideas etc.) before the horse (haiku).

Gabi Greve’s haiku has been presented with her own photograph of a single autumn leaf having all its glorious colours. She experienced an intense sense of autumn in a single leaf. It is not that this leaf represents symbolism of the season. It is the autumn itself. In such a humble and ordinary thing as a leaf the whole season has revealed itself, which is a wonder and a celebration of life and nature. You do not need mountains and mountains of autumn colours. You only need to look around your home. The modest discovery needed no extravagant expression. A few words and simple lines are all that is required. This has nothing to do with the minimalist dogma. The nature has found the most natural words and lines. The haiku of the Editor’s choice in this issue is the result.

source : whr-december-2011


ora ga aki - my autumn

ora ga haru - my spring (Issa )

The world of dew --
A world of dew it is indeed,
And yet, and yet . . .


tsuyu no yo wa tsuyu no yo nagara sari nagara

to write a new poem
but alluding to an original poem (honka)
. honkadori 本歌取り .


Dear Gabi

not much
and yet
my autumn

It sounds very familiar, and I wondered if perhaps it is an unconscious rewriting of the common misquote of Shakespeare,

"A poor thing, but mine own."


Shakespeare As You Like It


God 'ild you, sir; I desire you of the like. I
press in here, sir, amongst the rest of the country
copulatives, to swear and to forswear: according as
marriage binds and blood breaks: a poor virgin,
sir, an ill-favoured thing, sir, but mine own; a poor
humour of mine, sir, to take that that no man else
will: rich honesty dwells like a miser, sir, in a
poor house; as your pearl in your foul oyster.”

Act 5, Sc 4 - As You Like It

Literal meaning
it may not be good, but it's the best I have to offer.
source : www.phrases.org.uk

Dear D.
I am not good at English literature and the Shakespeare quote is not in my mind.

But it is always interesting to see how a haiku can lead to other shores.
And how it can induce discussions about the haiku form.

Just as the ELH author is free to name anything a haiku,
so is the reader free to judge anything as a haiku or not.

My two versions inspired by the one leaf
are not translations of each other.

One was perceived with my Japanese haiku mind.
One was perceived with my English language mind.

to be
or not to be -
it this a haiku ?


not much
and yet
my haiku


March 20, 2012

minus two -
not much and yet
my spring

おらが春 ora ga haru


. Life, my life (mi no ue) .

. Haiku is the poetry of the first person .

. . . Read my Haiku Archives . . .



Anonymous said...

Beautiful, Gabi. It's easy to imagine late autumn when the trees are bare and winter -- or even late autumn snow -- is so very close. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Nice one Gabi.
One leaf can hold the season, sometimes even better than a pile of leaves.

facebook friends said...

hold me, twig,
within the weight of
fallen light

Louis Osofsky ‎***

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Gabi! I read this haiku of yours somewhere in the Internet, and liked it right away. In your haiku, a person finds some charm and joy in a not very bright or in a not very a big autumn scene, and feels intimate with it. That's how I felt about it...
I read it first not in your blog, since I do not remember seeing the picture of a leaf. I imagined a rather bleak but still a moving autumn scenery when I read your haiku. The person watching the natures' image felt related to it, perhaps, on more than one level.


Gabi Greve said...

Thanks a lot, Zhanna.
Maybe you read in in facebook?

facebook freinds said...

I made a waka inspired by yours:


Esho Shimazu