Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Music of Heaven

Haigaonline (Vol. 12 Issue 2, December 2011)
This may be viewed under "contemporary haiga."
     It wasn't something that I was expecting or waiting for. It was something that happened when I actually just wanted to be by myself. A flock of birds suddenly started chirping non-stop. The birds were hopping from one branch to another. It was a beautiful experience! I didn't care what kind of birds they were, nor what color of wings they had. What mattered at that time was that their songs made my heart sing. Like the haiku master Kobayashi Issa, I have also heard the music of heaven. Here is one of Issa's prose translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa.
     It was widedly rumored that certain persons had heard celestial music coming down from heaven around two o'clock in the morning on New Year's Day. And they say it has been heard every eighth night since. Some told me in all seriousness that they actually heard the music at such and such place on such and such a night. Others dismissed it as simply a prank played by the wanton wind. I, for one, was inclined to take the idea seriously, but could neither accept it as completely true or reject it as absolutely impossible. For heaven and earth are filled with strange and mysterious powers, and we have all heard of the dancing maidens, and the "sweet dew" that came from above. It is not possible that courtiers in the halls of heaven may have been rejoicing to see the world at peace and called for music-- and if we could not hear it, is it not probable that it was our sinful natures that prevented us? In any event, I found myself intrigued, and invited a group of friends to come to my humble cottage on the nineteenth day of March. We all listened intently, from early evening on, but we heard nothing until the first sunbeams touched the far end of the eastern sky. Then all at once we heard a voice-- we heard music-- coming from the plum tree near my window.
Only birds
sing the music of heaven
in this world.
The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa  
Edited by Robert Hass  


  1. I love this. Absolutely lovely!

    Gisele :)

  2. Thanks, Gisele, for finding the time to read my blog! It's always nice to hear from you. :-)

  3. Chrissi:

    The photo reminds me of Basho's ever-famous crow haiku:

    A crow
    has settled on a bare branch -
    autumn evening.

    Translated by Robert Hass

    Thematically and emotionally speaking, the haiku functions more like an antithesis to the photo. The images, verbal and visual, subtly forms a dialectical relationship between them, stirring the reader's emotions and reflection.

    And the use of personification is emotionally effective.


  4. Chen-ou:

    Yes, Basho's haiku is just perfect for this photo! Thanks for stopping by. Your comments are always highly appreciated :-)