Kikaku’s poem to honor his master Basho, who had just died is filled with symbolism.  To a Westerner, these symbols are not always apparent.  To learn the history of Kikaku’s poem, go to Carpe Diem where Kristjaan Pannemann has written a detailed explanation.  I have attempted to imitate Kikaku’s use of symbols  to convey a deeper meaning in my poem.


 last gingko leaf 

              the snowy owl watching

  this bitter winter


©2013 WabiSabi

For Carpe Diem ‘ Kikaku – white crane’

How I wish to call
A white crane from Fukei,
But for this cold rain.

10 thoughts on “Bitter

  1. Extraordinary haiku inspired on the one by Kikaku, very nice in it’s symbolizing language. Very strong feeling of loss and death / departure. I can sense the spirit of Kikaku with a little sauce by you Wabi. A masterpiece.


  2. Interesting ambiguity–the last leaf? the last sight for a dying owl? Ah wisdom! (I have not checked into the symbolism of the original, sorry.)


    • The original poem by Kikaku refers to Basho’s death and Kikaku’s sadness. He longs to be able to call the white crane (a symbol for longevity) for his beloved teacher to live longer but death (cold rain) intervenes, preventing the white crane from returning. My poem is about my mother’s dementia. She is 91 and hanging on like the last leaf in autumn. The gingko is a symbol of longevity and also its leaves are used to improve memory. The owl is a symbol for death which seems to hover watching her suffer through the bitter winter of dementia. There I’ve given it all away!



      • And then again, you’ve given nothing away, because the reader can still imagine a thousand other universes in your ten whispered words…

        Thank you for allowing me to visit this sacred place.


Thank you!

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