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

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