Death Poems - Koha


Koha (Kooha) 香波
"Fragrant Wave"

? - 1897、August 14

I found very littel information about this poet.
If you, gentle reader, have any more information about this poet, please let me know or add it as a comment to this entry.

There is one death poem of him/her available at google books

fude nagete tsuki ni mono iu bakari nari

I cast the brush aside -
from here on I'll speak to the moon
face to face.

Tr. Yoel Hoffman


Haiga by Ashe, the Greenleaf Files
source : http://thegreenleaf.co.uk


The Japanese does not mention "face to face",
so I offer two possible translations

I throw my brush away -
from now on I speak only
to the moon

'from now on I speak to nobody and nothing but the moon'

I throw my brush away -
from now on I only speak
to the moon

'from now on I just speak to the moon,
rather than attempt to represent it.'

Thanks to Lorin Ford, there is this to consider:

" Thanks for your translation of Koha's death poem, Gabi. It's a revelation to realise that 'face to face' isn't indicated in the original Japanese. The poem reads quite differently without it. I like it better, in fact, as 'face to face' struck me as a literary conceit that distracted from the simplicity of the renunciation of the brush and the artwork or poetry they represent.

I wonder if Hoffman might've been attempting to import an allusion to:

1 Corinthians 13:12
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

(A verse from the Bible which has been alluded to many, many times in literature and film, as have many other bible passages.)

Lorin Ford


another way of looking at this:

The new translation is very illuminating. I feel the poet is alluding to the zen phrase warning us not to confuse fingers pointing at the moon with the moon itself. 'Moon' symbolising consciousness/buddha nature/all-that-is/oneness/god (whichever label the reader prefers).
The breaking of the brush may indicate the end of 'pointing'; that is the end of thoughts attempts to illustrate/understand/witness the 'moon'.

'speaking only to the moon' could suggest realisation/enlightenment as in the quoted Chiyo-ni poem. Or, as this is a death poem, "from now on I speak to nobody and nothing but the moon," may be refering to the poets belief that after death there is only 'moon', that she/he will return/reunite with the 'moon'. The moon being consciousness/buddha nature/all-that-is/oneness/god etc.


Mariko Shimizu reminds us

The more conventional exprssion is

fude o oru, to break the brush,
when a painter or writer gives up his work.

I have an impression that the poetess used the word "nageru," instead of "oru," though she must have the latter on her mind; she threw /cast / put away / aside her brush and was not going to use it to write her haiku.

my brush shall be no more in use --
i have only the moon
to talk to

I have a different image from the one you posted.
The person standing on the tiers and supposedly talking to the moon somehow reminds me of Friedrich Nietzsche. Because of the long coat? This is ominous, isn't it?
My image of 香葉 is that she is seated looking at the moon, out of a shoji sliding door in the clay wall.

source : my facebook

After studying the ShoboGenzo Zuimonki by Dogen, Marik writes:

no more poetry
now I have only the moon
to talk to

Discussion at Translating Haiku Forum


ooyuki to kaku koto tanoshi nikki hatsu

how nice to write
the first diary entry
in heavy snow

The name of the poet is given as 大場香波.

source : HAIKUreikuDB


Japanese Reference
(does not lead to any useful results)



death poems, farewell poems 辞世 jisei

A death poem (絶命詩) is a poem written near the time of one's own death. It is a tradition for literate people to write one in a number of different cultures, especially in Joseon Korea and Japan with the
jisei no ku (辞世の句).
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

Jisei, a "farewell poem to life"
. Death and Graves in Haiku

. . . . .

Jisei to wa sunawachi mayoi tada shinan

Death poems
are mere delusion-
death is death.

Toko (1795)
source : Mitch Campbell 2009

Reference : Japanese Jisei Colletion

tabi ni yande yume wa kareno o kakemeguru

. Death Haiku of Matsuo Basho 1694 .


shira-ume ni akuru yo bakari to nari ni keri
shira ume ni akuru yo bakari to nari ni keri

The night almost past,
through the white plum blossoms
a glimpse of dawn.

Tr. Bonta

it is now the moment
when white plum blossoms
lighten into dawn

Tr. Crowley

pure white plum blossoms
slowly begin to turn
the color of dawn

Tr. online ref

The cut marker KERI is at the end of line 3.

- - - - - and two more noted as his JISEI

. fuyu uguisu mukashi Ooi ga kakine kana .
the hedge of chinese poet - Wang Wei 王維 -

uguisu ya nani gosotsukasu yabu no shimo

hey you uguisu -
what are you looking for
in the frosted bush?

Tr. Gabi Greve

. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .


Here is one more jisei haiku about the moon

tsuki mo mite ware wa kono yo o kashiku kana

I have even seen the moon -
now I can say good bye
to this world

Kaga no Chiyoni, September 8, 1775

Related words

***** Introducing Japanese Haiku Poets 


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