Friday, January 05, 2007

In which Chi Wen Tzu invents the haiku (I am a poet/and you did not know it!)

(ok, ok, forgive.)

And, according to Roger McGough, The Spotted Unicorn is where the diary entries of 'an indecisive and yet inventive and brilliant poet...shed surprising new light on a little-known period of ancient history.'

28 February

Young wife try to appease husband
with gift of poetry book. Title?
New Generation Chinese Poetry.

Finding poems too long and impenetrable
decide to invent short, snappy verse-form.

With aid of abacus
Chi Wen Tzu ponder on its construction

First how many lines
then how many syllables
Eureka! Haiku.

[Editor's note: Having invented the haiku, Chi Wen Tzu wrote several thousand before going on to invent the sonnet, the villanelle, the limerick and the Malaysian pantoum. The few that have survived illustrate the wide breadth of his poetic vision and seem almost to pre-date some of the best-loved poems in English literature.]

There is some corner
of a paddy-field
Forever CHina.

Wandering lonely
as cloud. Then heart leaps. Behold --
Golden pagodas!

On snowy evening
stopping by neighbour's dark woods
horse leaves steaming gift.

Sing of dappled things!
Freckled lggs and pickled eggs
Budgies' wings. Nipples.

In forest of night
Panda! Panda! burning bright
Soon, bedroom carpet.

This is the night-mail
ossing the border. Oh no
Leaves on track--turn back.

If you can keep head
in time of Revolution
-you will be a man(darin).

Mongol hoardes swoop down
on missionary and wife.
Noble six hundred!

Oh my luve's like red
red rose, pink, pink carnation
green, green grass of home.

Do not go gentle
Rage Rage Rage Rage Rage Rage Rage
Against lots of things.

Far out in cold sea
And not waving but drowning
Man see funny side.

They mess you about
Most honourable parents
(But who gives a fuck?)


Now that all the dogged cheerfulness in the face of the new year is mercifully over, I can now emerge to say hello.


Cheshire Cat said...

Good stuff. Frank Kuppner does this sort of thing really well...

Oh, and Happy New Year!

Space Bar said...

C Cat: Yes, yes, happy new year to you too. :D

i love irony.

Anonymous said...


loved this

"Sing of dappled things!
Freckled leggs and pickled eggs
Budgies' wings. Nipples.

Ludwig said...

Ho ho ho only. Concur with lash. The first 5 are all brilliant, so desu neh?

Space Bar said...

lash: yes, they are funny, aren't they?

lugwig: 'desu'? as in delhi electrial supply unit?

Ludwig said...

so desu neh, arthaarth, "Isn't that so?", in the language of Basho, Bushon and others...

zigzackly said...

much joy!