The Mnemosyne Weekly: Poem Thirty-Two (Sōin)

Martin Johnson Heade
Blue Morpho Butterfly
This week’s selection is a haiku from the collection Japanese Haiku by Peter Beilenson. The poem is by Nishiyama Sōin, a Japanese poet of the early Tokugawa period. Sōin lived between 1605 and 1682 and was a samurai retainer before he began to pursue poetry. As with much Asian poetry, so much is said in the silences, and we are shown how easily, simply, and gracefully on can exhibit brilliance.

Life? Butterfly

                                                                 On a swaying grass
                                                                 That’s all …
                                                                 But exquisite!