history

History Haiku Saturday – September 9 – The Discovery of Amalthea, 1892

rectangular photograph of a collage of cut up letters forming today's haiku, on a bright pink background

There is nothing more
To learn by watchful eyes, said
Galileo’s ghost.

Today’s history haiku is to commemorate the discovery of Amalthea, one of the moons of Jupiter, by E.E. Barnard in 1892. It was the first new moon of Jupiter discovered since Galileo’s discoveries in 1610 and the last planetary satellite discovered by direct visual observation (as opposed to photographic observation). Barnard (1857-1923) was an American observational astronomer who discovered numerous astronomical features by both direct visual observation and photography, including 15 comets. In the 1880’s there was a prize offered of $200 per newly discovered comet: coming from very modest means, Bernard seized the opportunity and turned in 5 new ones. He used his prize money to build his family a house.

I’m pleased to report that I’ve been keeping up with the daily history haiku. Last Saturday’s haiku, on the Rock Springs Massacre, sadly highlighted the fact that I could, without too much effort, make these haiku a litany of war, battles, and tragedy. In addition to preferring to learn about a new event, I’m trying to vary the topic a little so that is not the case. I suspect, though, that some days that will be hard. Collage and haiku by me. Have a good weekend!

History Haiku Saturday – September 2 – Rock Springs Massacre, 1885

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Workers’ unequal pay:
Deep coal seams, deep racism
Bodies left unburied

I am someone who does well with assignments and “projects” – even if they are self-assigned! So in order to get out of the poetry lull I’ve been in for awhile, I assigned myself the task to write a history haiku a day. People spend lifetimes mastering the art of English haiku and I don’t pretend that these are true haiku in that sense. But I find the strictures of very short poetry to be helpful, so I went with it. Each day I look up the historical events for the day and pick one, trying to favor those I don’t know much (or anything) about.

Today’s haiku recalls the Rock Springs Massacre that took place in Rock Springs, Wyoming in 1885. A mob of white miners turned on their Chinese co-workers, killing 28 of them and injuring 15. The remaining Chinese miners were driven from the settlement. Tensions over unequal pay (Chinese miners were paid less), long simmering anti-Chinese sentiments, and an unsuccessful attempt by white miners to unionize had reached a boiling point. You can read more at Library of Congress’ Today in History (Wikipedia also has a lengthy article). Poem and ink design by me.

Illustrated Thursday -Bashō finds me in Japan

TKHU7896.jpgI didn’t design my trip to Japan to revolve around haiku, although considering the content of this blog, it would have been fitting! I went to Japan to hike on the Nakasendo Way (the old Edo era highway between Kyoto and Tokyo, now the equivalent of a national historic trail), be immersed in a totally new place and culture, and unplug. People do, in fact, plan whole trips around Bashō and his poetry (the tour company I used – and would highly recommend – even offers a “Bashō Tour”).  I am not so organized a traveler, however; it turned out that I would walk in the footsteps of Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694) on at least two occasions during my trip.

Matsuo Bashō is one of the four Japanese haiku masters – together with Yosa no Buson (1716-1784), Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), and Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902). Bashō moved around quite a bit during his life, living in a number of cities, as well as traveling extensively, including on parts of the Nakasendo Way.

Our second night on the trail, we stayed at a traditional Japanese bed and breakfast, called Sinchaya – or New Tea House. I learned “new” is a relative term in Japan, and seems to mean that the inn is merely several hundred years old. Across the road from the B&B was a beautiful pond and garden. I could see the garden from my room and was drawn to wander around and take photographs of it (like the photo above) while I waited for dinner to be ready. There was a brass plaque in the garden, but as it was entirely in Japanese and I was entirely out of reach of Google translate, its meaning remained a mystery to me.

The next morning, our guide informed us that it was tradition for the innkeepers to see us off as we lumbered back onto the Nakasendo Way. Our two lovely hosts did just that, enthusiastically waving and watching until we turned the corner and were out of sight. As the trail glided up between terraced rice paddies, our guide causally mentioned that Sinchaya – in particular, its pond and garden – was the source of a famous haiku written by Bashō. I looked it up later and discovered I had been part of a ritual going back 350 years.

Okuraretsu
okuritsu hateha
Kiso no aki

Seeing friends off
being seen off, and now —
autumn in Kiso

CBLD9906.jpgLater in the week, back in Tokyo in a torrential downpour, we darted from high-rise portico to high-rise portico with another guide. Sheltering under a non-descript overhang in the Nihonbashi district, our guide pointed to a beautiful stone with a brass plaque on the sidewalk. “Matsuo Bashō lived here,” she proudly proclaimed before asking, “Has anyone heard of haiku?” I raised my rain-slickered arm high. The plaque commemorated a haiku he wrote in about 1677:

Hokku nari
Matsuo Tosei
Yado no Haru

This is a hokku
Matsuo Tosei’s (“Green Peach”)
home on New Year.
Tr. Gabi Greve
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Several websites remarked that this haiku was Bashō’s official “grand opening” as a professional poet and teacher. Nihonbashi is now a maze of high rise office buildings – the bashi (bridge) spans the river in the permanent shade of an elevated highway. But tucked in every corner was history and in at least one case, poetry.

It is good to be back and I’m looking forward to catching up on everyone’s blogs. Don’t worry, you’ll be subjected to more pictures from Japan for many Silent Sundays to come!

Short Poem Saturday – The Golf Links – Cleghorn

TheGolfLinksWhen I tour the Illustrated Poetry archives, I usually find myself in “revision and update” mode; like with any draft, time gives me fresh eyes to see my old posts. But occasionally I come across a published post and think, “no revision necessary, I would do it exactly that way again.” That is a pretty good feeling (rare as it is!), and so I’d like to re-post one that earned such an accolade.

As I mentioned a year ago, this trim quatrain has become the lasting legacy of poet, activist, and educator Sarah N. Cleghorn (1876 – 1959).  She devoted her life to working for numerous causes and published a great deal, but the continued fame of The Golf Links has led her to be most closely associated with the movement to end child labor in the United States. Published over one hundred years ago, this poem feels firmly rooted in the past; however, in many parts of the world child labor is a current and ongoing problem. Perhaps this mighty little poem still has work to do…Photograph and composition by me.

Short Poem Saturday – Profile – Po-jen

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Sung Po-jen’s illustrated book of poetry, Guide to Capturing a Plum Blossom, was published in 1238 in China, making it the very earliest example of an art book. This masterpiece would have been lost entirely if not for a single copy of the 1261 edition that survived the Mongol conquests. This copy spent the next 600 years passed and sold privately from artist to scholar to collector until its importance was finally recognized in the late 1800’s. Drawing (ink on paper) and composition by me, translation by Red Pine.

Short Poem Saturday – Red Rose – de la Cruz

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Rosa que al prado, encarnada, 
te ostentas presuntüosa
de grana y carmín bañada:
campa lozana y gustosa;
pero no, que siendo hermosa
tambien serás desdichada.

Juana Inés de la Cruz
(1651 – 1695)

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz is a woman whose life was made up of remarkable contrasts: the illegitimate daughter of landed gentry, a brilliant teenager forbidden to attend school, and finally as a nun who wrote many non-religious works. She is also hailed as an early feminist and agitant for women’s rights. Drawing (ink on mineral paper – paper made from rocks, not trees, in honor of Earth Day) by me, translation by William Weaver. Have a lovely Saturday!

Holy ! Holy ! Holy ! — www.beat.company

I was honored when Matthias asked me to create an illustration to accompany one of his posts for “Ginsberg Week” on his blog Beat Company. In honor of the 19th anniversary of the artist’s passing (April 5th, 1997), Ginsberg Week kicked off yesterday and today’s post featured one of the two illustrations I did. Matthias has packed the post full of interesting facts and features related to Allen Ginsberg – including  a U.S. phone number you can call to talk to the man himself (from beyond the grave, perhaps?). Matthias ensures me that it really works! Enjoy!

«Poetry is the only place where people can speak their original human mind. It is the outlet for people to say in public what is known in private.» — Allen Ginsberg First recording of «Howl» – Allen Ginsberg in 1956 Friends around the world have gathered to pay tribute to the right honorable Mr. Allen…

via Holy ! Holy ! Holy ! — www.beat.company

Excerpt Wednesday – In The Third Year Of War – Treece

IMG_2865Henry Treece was a published poet before World War II, so it is fitting he documented his experience as an intelligence officer in the Royal Air Force (from 1941 – 1946) in poetry as well. He wrote In The Third Year Of War from the center of a conflagration for which he could see no end. We have the benefit of history to know that in ~ 1944 the end of the war was indeed coming, but it does not lessen the despair we feel coming from his poem. After the war Mr. Treece focused on fiction and is primarily remembered today for his historical fiction novels for children. Mixed media collage and composition by me. To read the entire poem, click the “read more” button or scroll down.

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