Tanka Prose: Walking with Saigyõ

two whippets in black jackets climbing a hill trail in autumn
a black whippet in a black jacket striding down a mountain trail

Matsuo Bashõ (1644-1694) is one of the world’s best known haiku poets and his work has been guiding me along a poetic journey that offers me a space to pause and breathe. He carried the poems of Saigyõ (1118-1190) under his arm and I was curious to read what Bashõ was reading. Saigyõ gazed at the moon and flowers in many different places. According to Gary Snyder, Saigyõ takes the moon into his mind and out again, opening a new way of seeing the universe.

It is something I can relate to, climbing this hill. I see the colours unfolding in echoes of moonlight and sun. There are still remnants of purple on the higher ground, where the heather was late to flower.

ancestral moon
autumn’s deep places
in our heart between
the green, gold and violet
mirrors everywhere

© Xenia Tran

view from a hill over heather, pine and golden birch

This piece was inspired by Saigyõ’s Mirror of the Moon (translated by Gary Snyder, 1978). I love the way Saigyõ’s tanka can be read both as the lines fall on the page and in reverse order, something I love to aim for when writing my own tanka.

Wishing you all a magical Thursday,

with love from Eivor, Pearl and Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/2.8 – 1/320 s – ISO 160, f/2.8 – 1/640 s – ISO 160 and f/4 – 1/400 s – ISO 160.

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Author: whippetwisdom

The stories, poems and photographs on this blog are the original creative work of Xenia Tran. Inspired by life in the Scottish Highlands and in awe of nature she gives voice to the wisdom of her adopted and fostered whippets.

52 thoughts on “Tanka Prose: Walking with Saigyõ”

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words dear Cathy, we were lucky the rain stopped when we climbed above the tree line and the colours were so beautiful in this light 💜 Hope you are having a wonderful Thursday too and much love from our house to yours 🤗🐾💖🐾 xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A terrific tanka, per usual for you–although when read from the bottom up, it is not quite coherent. Your walks are the things of poetic legend, and I enjoy each of them, plus the poems and photos that we are treated to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words dear Sara, I love to honour these guides 💜 It feels so good to know that what he experienced eight hundred years ago still resonates with us today 🤗💖 xxx


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