Japanese haiku for a Japanese banner

On a Japanese Banner: Four Haiku for the Samurai

like spring’s blasting gale:
strike against all walls to crack—
break—thick bulwarks down

like summer’s forest:
stand tall in tranquillity—
grow wise in calmness

like autumn’s tree-fire:
flame up—burn across the land—
devastate your foe

like winter mountains:
hold hard—all cloaked in snowfall—
stay firm in fastness

Words © Lizzie Ballagher.

Image: traditional hata sashimono (feudal war banner) as carried by Takeda Shingen in the sixteenth century

 

 

Advertisements

The might of the little

In a January storm two years ago (and I take heart from this now that colder weather returns to the northern hemisphere) I heard a wren burst into such loud song that her voice drowned even the roaring wind. And now, happily, this poem was one of two chosen by poet John Siddique as one of those commended in the 2015 Poetry Space national poetry competition.

Storm Wren

Over the whinnying, plunging wind,

The frantic strain of sycamores bent double in anxiety;

Over the thundering train of cloud-carriages

Blundering eastwards in the blast;

Over the heaving spines of conifers uprooted in a tyrant gale,

 

One small dun wren

Opens her tight brown beak

And with a clear cathedral voice cleaves,

Breaks the blackened heart

Of this relentless western storm:

 

A shout to crack

The feeble egg-shell

Of the watery world—

Soaring, rolling notes, a mere breathful—to tip

The whirlwind off its antic axis.

 

Sing, wren, sing!

And let angels, larks & nightingales

Take notes.

 

© Lizzie Ballagher

2014-11-09 14.50.17