Haiku by Yosa Buson

Field of bright mustard,
the moon in the east,
the sun in the west.

Yosa Buson (1716-1783) was equally esteemed as a great poet and painter. Initially I misread one of my favorites as saying ‘moon in the west’ and ‘sun in the east.’ I thought his bright yellow field was illuminated by moonset and sunrise. Buson actually described the field beneath a sunset in the west and a moonrise in the east; equally ethereal and otherworldly. I’ve seen both phenomena but not the field of mustard plants in glorious bloom. Until now.

Light emanates from all three—the mustard flowers, the moon, and the sun—and paints an inimitable image unlikely photographed anywhere. Nevertheless Buson painted with words and thus elicited such a moment. I was unable to find a photograph to illustrate its splendor, obviously. These two great lights trading their soft brilliance on opposite horizons and revealing the self-glowing, allegorical mustard seed are painted with a palette of words.

Haiku translated by Robert Hass, The Essential HAIKU: Versions of Bashō, Buson & Issa, HarperCollins, 1994

Photograph found @ Pixabay


Author: Mary Jo Malo

Christian, mother, grandmother, and poet of occasional worth.

30 thoughts on “Haiku by Yosa Buson”

    1. This poem hit me powerfully, since I remembered seeing a moonset very early one morning. It was gorgeous, so large and colorful with the sky lit so strangely the woods seemed unfamiliar. Hugs from the west where I’m reminded to pray toward your direction. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    1. I doubt my experience was a selenelion, a rare phenomenon, but it left a lasting impression. Being able to catch the moonset of a full moon was definitely awe inspiring. I think it happens once a month, but conditions don’t always afford the best view. I’m not an astronomer, clearly. To capture the sunset, moonrise and mustard seed flowers all together? Buson created that moment for us.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Mary Jo – you bring Haiku alive with your eloquence of words. “Less is more” allows us to enter into the moment. I am looking back into Renga and the idea of Japanese collaborative poetry. The genre was elevated to a literary art by Nigo Yoshimoto (1320 – 1388). I confirmed that the Renaissance of the 12th century (1300) was the outset of the High Middle Ages. It seems that there was a global awakening. I haven’t done any research into this, but you have opened the doors for new explorations.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Rebecca for mentioning Renga. I’m following a couple bloggers right now that are presenting collaborative poems. I often open doors I’ll not pass through myself. 🙂 The blogger poets which come to mind are Ben Alexander, Jeff Flesch, Suzette Benjamin and Goff James. The latter two collaborated on haiku with the theme of pioneers moving westward, I think. Also, If I recall correctly, Liz Gauffreau co-authored a Renga a couple years ago.

      You always add so much to these conversations. Hugs!!

      Liked by 2 people

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