Stephen Wolfe: Death in Deep Autumn

Klaus-Dieter Wirth: The Haiku at the Crossroads?

Michael Dylan Welch: Getting Started with Haiku

Richard Gilbert: Haiku and the Perception of the Unique

Robert D. Wilson: TO BE OR NOT TO BE -
An Experiment Gone Awry

Jane Reichhold: Should Senryu be Part of English-Language Haiku?

Jim Kacian: Skinning the Fish: Interpenetration in Haiku

Michael Dylan Welch: The Practical Poet: On the Art of Writing


Vol. 10, No 17, Summer 2013

Robert D. Wilson: What Is and Isn't

David G. Lanoue: Animals and Shinto in the Haiku of Issa

Interview with Professor Peipei Qiu by Robert D. Wilson

Richard Gilbert: Kigo and Seasonal Reference in Haiku

Tatjana Stefanović: A branch with birdsong

David G. Lanoue: Write Like Issa


Vol. 9, No. 16, Summer 2012

Chen-ou Liu: Read It Slowly, Repeatedly, and Communally

Jim Kacian: So: Ba


Vol. 8, No. 15, Winter 2011

Jim Kacian: Haiku as Anti-Story

Chen-ou Liu: The Ripples from a Splash: A Generic Analysis of Basho’s Frog Haiku

David G. Lanoue: Issa's Comic Vision

Ikuyo Yoshimura: Kato Somo, the First Japanese Haikuist to Visit the United States

Dr. Randy Brooks: Haiku Poetics: Objective, Subjective, Transactional and Literary Theories

Vincent Hoarau: Suggestiveness in haiku through the work of Svetlana Marisova

David Grayson: The Sword of Cliché: Choosing a Topic

Robert D. Wilson: To Kigo or Not to Kigo

Saša Važić: What's the Use

Tomas Transtromer awarded Nobel Prize


Vol. 8, No. 14, Summer 2011

Haruo Shirane: Beyond the Haiku Moment: Basho, Buson and Modern Haiku myths

Geert Verbeke: Haiku Study & Photo Haibun

David Burleigh: In and Out of Japan: The Contours of Haiku

Robert D. Wilson: Kigo – The Heathbeat of Haiku

Michael Dylan Welch: Haiku Form and Content

Richard Gilbert: Kigo and Seasonal Reference: Cross-cultural Issues in Anglo-American Haiku

Robert D. Wilson: Study of Japanese Aesthetics: Part I: The Importance of Ma

Matthew M. Carriello: The Contiguous Image: Mapping Metaphor in Haiku

Richard Gilbert: The Disjunctive Dragonfly: A Study of Disjunctive Method and Definitions in Contemporary English-
language Haiku

Bruce Ross: The Essence of Haiku

Robert D. Wilson: Study of Japanese Aesthetics: Part II: Reinventing The Wheel: The Fly Who Thought He Was a Carabao

Anatoly Kudryavitsky: Vera Markova’s “Ten Haiku Lessons”

Anatoly Kudryavitsky: Tranströmer and his Haikudikter

Anatoly Kudryavitsky: Haiku Poets' Last Line of Defence

Michael F. Marra: Yūgen

Robert D. Wilson: Simply Haiku Winter 2011 issue's Featured Poet: Slavko Sedlar



Stephen Wolfe, Japan






The History and Significance of Basho’s Autumn Crow Haiku



kare eda ni
karasu no tomarikeri
aki no kure

on a bare branch
a crow has stopped
autumn dusk


In 1689, five years before his death, Basho wrote this final version of this seminal haiku, which, according to many literary critics, ushered in modern haiku replete with its subtle yet profound power. It represented a revolutionary change from the shallow, pun-ridden, clumsy haiku of the Danrin (談林) School that held sway at the time. In the words of R. H. Blyth, this ‘crow’ haiku by Basho was the watershed in “the setting up of his own, indeed, the creation of what we now call ‘haiku.’”1

Part I of this paper will explore the history and influence of this extraordinary haiku and examine what elements combined to produce such a groundswell of critical approbation; why such a seemingly colorless, static expression altered the course of haiku history and how the barren branch became the fertile bud of Basho’s Zen poetics. Part II will examine the extreme difficulties the translators of this haiku have faced, and offer a sampling of the more interesting, and perhaps controversial, translations.

As an indication of the importance this haiku held for Basho in terms of artistic expression and poetic aesthetics, this final version passed down to posterity was honed through at least two previous incarnations. The original version of 1680 contained an even longer ten-syllable second part:

kare eda ni
karasu no tomaritaruya
aki no kure2

The eventual change in the end of the second part from the kireji (切れ字, cutting word) ya in the original version to keri in the final version tends to infuse the crows action with a weightier sense of conclusion. Donald Keene points out that the significance of even this initial version was immediately perceived and described as “one of the three verses of our style” when it was included in a collection published in 1681.3

Keri in Final Version

The final version with its use of keri, in addition to slightly reducing the cumbersome ten-syllable overload of the second part and adding a sense of finality to the crow’s action, adds another dissonant “k” sound to the already present kare, karasu, aki and kure to suggest the latent cacophonous cawing of the crow behind the silent, immobile veneer of this haiku. One feels that the crow could at any moment swoop down from its solitary tableau, like a figure breaking loose from the restraining stillness of Keats’ Grecian Urn, to butcher a helpless duckling or a still blind kitten with its sword-sharp beak. One is reminded of the way Bruce Lee (whose son Brandon, in a bizarre stroke of irony, was killed in the filming of the movie “The Crow”) would suddenly erupt from a yin meditative state to violent yang action to the accompaniment of his own, piercing shrieks. The words of this haiku denote a surface reality of silence and stillness while connoting a lurking, reactive opposite.

Basho’s care in perfecting his crow haiku suggests that he was striving for a breakthrough nuanced innovation that he hoped would chart a new direction for haiku. Judging by the commentary of innumerable Japanese poets, scholars, and Zen practitioners who saw in this haiku a whole gamut of Japanese aesthetic principles and expression, Basho was successful. At this juncture a brief sampling of the critical acclaim lavished on this haiku by leading literary authorities will serve to suggest its overwhelming importance in defining a poetic genre that would eventually become synonymous internationally with the terse profundity of the Japanese sensibility.

Typical of the hyperbolic commentary engendered by this poem is the eminent haiku poet and scholar Miyamori Asataro’s (1869-1952) conclusion that “This is an epoch-making verse which took the first step in the movement elevating the haikai to serious, pure literature.”4 Ota Mizuho (1876-1955), tanka poet and classical scholar, insisted that Basho “was trying to produce a model verse for haikai of the future” and simultaneously sustaining “an aesthetic of ‘loneliness’ handed down from the medieval waka tradition.”5


Shimada Seiho (1882-1944), haiku poet and Waseda University professor, asserted that it was this crow haiku that illustrated a basic tenet of Basho’s poetic direction which Basho described when he proclaimed: “Poetry of other schools is like colored painting. Poetry of my school should be written as if it were black-ink painting.”6 In a similar manner, Handa Ryohei (1887-1945), tanka poet and Basho scholar, describes this haiku as a prime example of the Japanese aesthetic notion of shibumi, “the kind of poem which emerges when the subject is stripped of all its glitter and reduced to its bare skeleton.”7 It is the above qualities that R. H. Blyth was responding to when he maintained that this haiku is a masterpiece because “The loneliness of autumn is thus intensified by the deathly immobility and colourlessness of the scene.”8

Basho scholar and editor Yamamoto Kenkichi (1907-88) postulates that “The aesthetic which the poet discovered in writing this hokku can be said to be a revival of the principles of hie [cold, icy beauty’9], yase [‘consumptive beauty, spare and slender’10], and karabi [‘the austere, monochrome beauty suggested by the image of a dried flower’11].”12 In short, this haiku has been credited with manifesting a plethora of key Japanese poetic principles and practices.

A significant part of Basho’s motivation for seeking a new way of haiku was his disgust with the contrived tricks and superficial artifice of the Danrin haiku of his time. He asserted that the poet and object of the poem should merge with no room for poetic gimmicks or stunts, “neither calculated unexpectedness nor posed picturesqueness.”13 Basho’s poetic creed called for the poet to express “unadorned nature” and “the complete identity of the poet with the scene he has intuited.”14 This quality is intimated in his famous artistic decree, “Learn of the pine from the pine; of the bamboo from the bamboo.”

“Without Wandering Thoughts”

He also expressed this notion when he urged his disciples, “In writing do not let a hair’s breath separate your self from the subject. Speak your mind directly; go to it without wandering thoughts.”15 Higginson articulately sums up the poetic goal the crow haiku attained, and why, from its inception, Basho’s influence on haiku was to be so profound:

…both the language of the poem and the mind of the poet should be transparent to the reader, who, on reading the poem, should see directly into the inner life of the object as the poet did. This is the ideal of Basho-School haiku, an ideal almost all haiku poets since have striven to attain.16

The origin of this haiku has become indelibly associated with a legendary bit of Japanese literary folklore, the veracity of which has been debated over the centuries since Basho’s death. Whether or not the story is apocryphal, it indicates the importance placed on this haiku in the annals of haikai history. Sakurai Rito (1681-1755), a haiku poet and scholar associated with Basho’s disciples, most notably Ransatsu, gave the following account of the meeting of Basho with two other influential haiku poets circa 1680:

As a leader of the Danrin school Basho had been having a hard time, when Kigin, feeling sympathetic, came for a visit and had a talk with him and Sodo over a cup of tea. The three masters discussed possible ways to soften the excesses of the Danrin style, and in the end Basho was urged to take leadership in the matter. Thereupon he wrote the crow poem, saying it might point in a new direction.17

“Mindless, Natural”

The nature of this “new direction” is hinted at in the terse comment of the 18th Century Haiku poet Hori Bakusui (1718-83) when he praised this haiku in codified Zen/Taoist jargon as “Mindless, natural.”18 The subject of this haiku is one that frequently appeared in Chinese paintings and poetry. One notable example, among many, of this theme in Chinese poetry is found in the opening lines of “Autumn Thoughts” by the Yuan Dynasty poet Ma Chih-yuan: “Withered vine/old tree/evening crow.”19 This image was also found in the controlled sabi of Japanese waka, especially those of Saigyo whose influence on Basho was enormous. However, Basho’s poem effortlessly establishes, once again to draw on the words of R. H. Blyth, a “perfection of unity” between “the expressed objective and the unexpressed subjective.”20 The overall effect is to create a sublime monochrome mood of tangible, transcendent loneliness.

Perhaps the quality that most significantly sets this haiku apart from previous haiku and its Chinese poetic precursors, is what Henderson aptly describes as “the principle of internal comparison.”21 The disparate elements in the haiku mutually reinforce and deepen the brooding overall mood. The barren branch, the blackness of the crow (akin in symbolic richness perhaps to Melville’s “whiteness of the whale”), and the deepening autumn dusk, forge a shadowland operative on the plane of seasonal reality, and also serve as a glass darkly through which is revealed an unrelenting sabi netherland.

What Henderson refers to as this principle of internal comparison might very well be the organic cohesiveness that Basho described as karumi when he wrote, “In my view a good poem is one in which the form of the verse, and the joining of its two parts, seem light as a shallow river flowing over its sandy bed.”22 Basho urges the artist to remain, in Joycean fashion, aloofly paring his fingernails removed from the crafting of any intrusive artifice. Poets, scholars, artists and Zen masters alike have seen in the bare “suchness” of this haiku a spectrum of metaphoric significance intimating a sublime darkside hovering beyond, again to use a Melville phrase, “the pasteboard mask of reality.”

Poet of Eternal Aloneness

Zen Master Suzuki Daisetz, for example, describes Basho as “a poet of Eternal Aloneness” and insists “there is a great Beyond in the lonely raven perching on the dead branch of a tree. All things come out of an unknown abyss of mystery, and through every one of them we can have a peep into the abyss.”23 Suzuki goes on to describe how Basho’s spirit of Eternal Aloneness pulsating in this haiku encompasses “the chaste enjoyment of life and Nature, it is the longing for sabi and wabi, and not the pursuit of material comfort or of sensation.”24 What might seem gloomy as the subject of poetry, here radiates a beatific aloneness reflecting the creative principle of the universe.

Hagiwara Sakutaro (1886-1942), one of Japan’s greatest poets of the 20th Century, echoes Suzuki’s evaluation of the significance of this haiku, when he asserts that it “expresses the poetic spirit of Basho the eternal traveler. His tears express a wanderer’s loneliness and the helpless solitude of all human life.”25

However, not all Japanese poets lavish praise upon this haiku. Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) stands out as a harsh critic of this haiku when he writes:

I do not understand why this hokku has been said to represent the ultimate of yugen [Beauty of mystery and depth, often combined with other effects such as elegance, refinement, ambiguity, darkness, calm, ephemerality, and sadness26] and of the Basho style… I feel this is a plain, ordinary poem, the like of which could have been written by many poets other than Basho.27

Alan Watts, in his classic The Way of Zen, echoes Suzuki’s focus on Basho’s sabi quality, when he states that “the quiet, thrilling loneliness of sabi is obvious” in this haiku.28 Watts adds what might seem at first to be an ironic twist when he comments that this haiku has become so special for its very emphasis on “nothing special.” Basho’s “feeling for Zen wanted to express itself in a type of poetry altogether in the spirit of wu-shih, nothing special.”29 Henderson touches on the same point when he states that “At the time the ‘crow’ verse was written Basho was consciously looking for the poetic beauty to be found in things not themselves particularly beautiful.”30 Basho, through his poetic alchemy, could extract the special and the beautiful from subjects that seemingly, to those unable to tap into what Suzuki calls “the cosmic consciousness,” lacked these attributes.

Spirit of Zen

Donald Keene points out that around the time this haiku was composed, Basho was studying with the Zen Master Butcho31 and suggests that “The flash of inspiration that enabled Basho to detect in the quite ordinary sight of a crow alighted on a branch something of universal significance is of course akin to the spirit of Zen.”32

Zen Master Robert Aitken, in his study of Basho’s haiku, A Zen Wave, is not as confident as Keene that this haiku is laced with the intuitive truth of Zen. While acknowledging that it is an “expression of the ‘first principle,’ essential nature, emptiness all by itself—separated from the world of sights and sounds, coming and going,”33 he sees a “certain immaturity”:

Though the poem certainly demonstrates his evocative power, that is not enough. Something is missing. What this haiku shows us, in fact, is quietism, the trap Hsiang-yen and all other great teachers of Zen warn us to avoid … remaining indefinitely under the bodhi tree will not do; to muse without emerging is to be unfulfilled.

…this is the ageless pond without the frog.34

In a similar fashion as the Zen-oriented critics Suzuki and Watts cited above, the distinguished Russian film director, Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein, singled out this Basho's haiku for its profundity, and, in addition, as an inspiration for his film work. In his essay, “The Cinematic Principle & Japanese Culture,” in his book The Dialectic of Cinema, Eisenstein presents the crow haiku as an example of how haiku influenced his style of montage in the early 1930s.35 He explains how haiku in general balances several components to create an overall effect, and the crow haiku specifically juxtaposes the barren branch and the crow to produce a multi-dimensional manifestation of palpable autumn dusk.36

What Eisenstein defines as montage, Prof. Haruo Shirane sees as the trinity of interactive elements necessary to create, in the words of Kenneth Yasuda, a transcendent “haiku moment.” They are clearly yet simply present in this haiku: where (on a bare branch), what (a crow is perched) and when (autumn dusk).37 It is this bare-bones objectivity without the poet’s intrusion that crystallizes the moment of intersection between the present and the eternal. The crow that Basho immortalized in this haiku has taken on a mythic quality in much the same manner as John Keats’ nightingale and Edgar Allan Poe’s raven.

Influence on Modern Haiku

This haiku has exerted another kind of influence on modern Japanese haiku: Its relatively unrestrained form has inspired haiku poets to be more flexible in their approach to form. The nine-syllable second part has been seen by many modern haiku poets as an indication of Basho’s artistic liberation from a strict 5-7-5 haiku form. In the introduction to On Love and Barley: Haiku of Basho, Lucien Styrk asserts that this haiku was proof that Basho “dared ignore the time-honored elements of the form, including the syllabic limitation.”38 Styrk goes on to postulate that a new school of poetry was deeply and directly influenced by Basho’s experiments with form:

So rare in the history of haiku was such license that three hundred years on, a new haiku school, the Soun, or free-verse, school, justified its abandonment of syllabic orthodoxy on the grounds that Japan’s greatest poet had not been constrained by such rules.39

This haiku has also had a considerable influence on modern American poetry. William J. Higginson points out that Ezra Pound’s 1914 milestone haiku-like poem “In a Station of the Metro,”

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

was, by the poet’s admission, directly influenced by Basho’s crow haiku.40 Pound’s “Metro” poem was to exert an enormous influence on early 20th Century American poetry and became the flagship poem of the Imagist Movement flourishing at the time.41

13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

The crow haiku was also a major stimulus for Wallace Stevens’ 1917 masterpiece “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” which consists of 13 haiku-styled sections. The following selected stanzas illustrate a haiku-like brevity, the use of objective haiku–style natural images, a subtle unstated metaphoric quality, and the ominous, ponderous presence of the blackbird. The denouement of the final stanza reveals a black bird on a barren branch.


Among twenty snowy mountains
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.


The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.


The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.


It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat in the cedar-limbs.

Part I of this essay has attempted to show how Basho’s kareedani/karasuno tomarikeri/aki no kure represented a radical departure in terms of aesthetic approach, mood, and poetic sensibility from the haiku that were prevalent in the Edo Period, and how it helped launch this unique poetic genre on the tersely profound path it would traverse over the next three centuries. Part II will begin with an exploration of the difficulties facing the translator of this deceptively simple poem and conclude with a diverse selection of translations from which the reader can choose the ones which capture most effectively the essence and substance of Basho’s transcendent vision of autumn dusk.





As the translator looks beyond the surface appearance of the unadorned suchness of the autumn dusk scene that Basho so skillfully depicts, the actual linguistic components reveal daunting challenges of translation. The haiku is suffused with a purposeful ambiguity that is difficult to pin down in English without sacrificing its resonant suggestiveness.


Asataro Miyamori asserts that kare eda has two possible meanings, “a dead branch” or “a leafless branch” and assures the reader that in the context of Basho’s haiku it means “a leafless branch.”42 However, R. H. Blyth conversely concludes that Basho’s meaning in this haiku is “withered branch” based on a painting by Basho that presents “a tree, not with bare branches (which would make the season winter, rather than autumn) but with the whole tree lifeless and withered.”43 Fabion Bowers, in The Classic Tradition of Haiku agrees with Blyth that Basho’s painting shows “a lifeless tree limb.”44

One further point of contention is whether eda is singular or plural, with most translators opting for a single branch. In the translations to follow kare eda is variously rendered in English as:

bare branch
withered branch
withered bough
leafless bough
dead branches
barren branch
dead limb
leafless branches
a branch shorn of leaves


The vast majority of translators have used “crow” to express karasu, although even this point is not as clear-cut as one might expect. Bowers explains that “karasu is an ominous bird, different from a crow, raven, rook or blackbird, as it is variously translated.”45 The eminent haiku poet, translator and scholar William J. Higginson employs the English word “raven” and justifies his choice in the following way:

I use “raven” in my translation to draw, for the English-speaking reader, on the legacy of [Edgar Allan] Poe, since Basho draws on the traditional combination of barren images in Chinese painting. The karasu, a large, black bird native to Asia, is neither a crow nor a raven.46

The question of whether Basho intended a single crow or a group of crows has been another subject of contention. Miyamori once again speaks with the voice of authority when he asserts:

The number of karasu is not definitely expressed, therefore the uninitiated might construe it “some crows.” But it is hardly necessary to say that Basho means “a solitary crow,” otherwise his intention of portraying a dreary autumn evening could not be attained. A picture by the poet himself of this verse proves this conclusively.47

However, Hiroaki Sato, a distinguished and prolific translator of Japanese literature unlikely to be classified among the “uninitiated,” uses the plural of crow, “based on one of the paintings Basho did to illustrate the hokku, which shows several crows in a treetop and a flock of others in the air.”48

It seems likely that Basho intentionally created a veil of ambiguity as to the number of crows he intended as both Fabion Bowers49 and Makoto Ueda50 make mention of three extant paintings by Basho, one of which depicts seven crows on a bare tree with another twenty hovering in the air, while the two others portray a solitary karasu.

At any rate, in the subsequent translations in this section karasu has been rendered variously as:

lonely crow
a rook
some rooks


The translation of tomarikeri is perhaps the foremost obstacle in this haiku for the translator. The difficulty in large part emanates from the use of the kireji (cutting word), keri, which is defined in the glossary of The Haiku Handbook as “verb suffix, (past) perfect tense, exclamatory.”51 It traditionally provides a dual sense of wonderment and closure. While the verb tomaru usually means “to stop,” “to halt,” “to come to a stop or halt,” in Basho’s usage there is, of course, leeway to use other more context-specific verbs that would denote the action of the crow in this haiku. This central section of the haiku perhaps attracts greater focus as a result of its unusually elongated syllable count of nine. It has allowed for more creative translation solutions as compared to the standard five-syllable parts coming before and after.

The following translations of tomarikeri will be seen in the succeeding translations:

is perched
is perching
has perched
are perched
remain perched
has come to perch

settled down to roost
comes to roost

is sitting

has alighted
has settled


finally gets a grip


The last part of this haiku as well presents a certain degree of difficulty in the rendering of its spirit. As was the case with kare eda, here once again two of the most respected experts on haiku have diametrically opposed interpretations of aki no kure. Miyamori insists in no uncertain terms that the phrase means “’an autumn evening,’ not ‘late autumn’ for which haijin [haiku poets] have the phrase kure-no-aki.”52 Donald Keene, however, while using the phrase “Nightfall in autumn” in his own translation, believes that “The last line can also be interpreted as meaning ‘the twilight of autumn’ (late autumn), and surely this ambiguity was intended.”53

aki no kure appears as the following in the translations assembled at the conclusion of this section:

autumn evening
An autumn evening
Autumn evening now
in the autumn evening
‘Tis a dreary autumn evening
autumn eve
This autumn eve
This autumnal eve
Nightfall in autumn
autumn night
fall night coming on
autumn dusk
In autumn dusk
This autumn dusk!
autumn/Darkening now
The autumn gloaming deepens into night

end of autumn
autumn’s end


Finally, while most translators have opted for a three-line verse form in English to reflect and echo the three parts of the original Japanese haiku, the translations also include one-line, two-line and four-line renditions.

Sato offers the following single-line version:

On dead branches crows remain perched at autumn’s end54

A number of translators use only two lines. Kenneth Rexroth, one of the preeminent American poets of the 20th Century, employs a two-line verse form in which he reverses the order of the original haiku by beginning with the reference to autumn:

Autumn evening—
A crow on a bare branch55

Finally, Stephen Gill employs the following four-line form—and a lot of punctuation:

To the leafless branches
Of a nearby tree…
A crow has come to perch—
This autumn dusk!56

Whichever approach a translator chooses to render this haiku into English, there can be no doubt that it is not a simple task, as the above discussion hopefully makes clear. In conclusion, here follow 25 translations of Matsuo Basho’s crow haiku. Each reader must ultimately decide which most effectively captures the poet’s vision without losing too much in translation.



The Translations


kareeda ni karasu no tomarikeri akinokure


Autumn evening—
A crow on a bare branch.
Kenneth Rexroth

One Hundred Poems from the Japanese


On a withered branch
A crow is perched:
An autumn evening.

Robert Aitken
A Zen Wave57


On a withered bough
A crow alone is perching;
Autumn evening now.

Kenneth Yasuda
The Japanese Haiku58


On a leafless bough
a crow comes to roost
autumn nightfall

Haruo Shirane
Traces of Dreams59


A crow
has settled on a bare branch—
autumn evening

Robert Hass
The Essential Haiku60


On a bare branch
a crow has alighted…
Autumn evening

Makoto Ueda (1)
Basho and His Interpreters61


On a bare branch
A crow is perched—
Autumn evening

Makoto Ueda (2)
Matsuo Basho62


On a withered branch
A crow is perched
In the autumn evening.

Alan Watts
The Way of Zen63


On the withered branch
A crow has alighted—
Nightfall in autumn.

Donald Keene
World Within Walls64


On a bare branch
a crow has settled down to roost.
In autumn dusk.

Steven Carter
Traditional Japanese Poetry65


On a withered branch
a crow has settled…
autumn nightfall

Harold Henderson (1)
Haiku in English66


On a leafless bough
A crow is sitting:--autumn
Darkening now--

Harold Henderson (2)
The Classic Tradition of Haiku67


Autumn evening;
A crow perched
On a withered bough

R. H. Blyth
Haiku, Volume 3 Summer-Autumn68


On a bare branch
A rook roosts:
Autumn dusk.

Geoffrey Bownas and Anthony Thwaite
The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse69


Lo! a crow sits on a bare bough;
‘Tis a dreary autumn evening.

Asataro Miyamori
Classic Haiku70


The end of autumn, and some rooks
Are perched upon a withered branch.

Basil Hall Chamberlain
Classic Haiku71


The autumn gloaming deepens into night;
Black ‘gainst the slowly-fading orange light,
On withered bough a lonely crow is sitting.

Clara A. Walsh
Classic Haiku72


On a withered branch
A crow is sitting
This autumn eve.

W. G. Aston
A History of Japanese Literature73


On dead branches crows remain perched at autumn’s end

Hiroaki Sato
From the Country of Eight Islands


on a barren branch
a raven has perched—
autumn dusk

William J. Higginson
The Haiku Handbook74


On the dead limb
squats a crow—
autumn night.

Lucien Stryk
On Love and Barley75


To the leafless branches
Of a nearby tree…
A crow has come to perch—
This autumn dusk!

Stephen Gill
Rediscovering Basho


on a bare branch
a crow perches
autumn eve

Maeda Cana
Monkey’s Raincoat76


on a bare branch a
crow finally gets a grip
fall night coming on

Cid Corman
Little Enough77


A branch shorn of leaves,
A crow perching on it--
This autumnal eve.

Daisetz Suzuki
Zen and Japanese Culture78



1. R. H. Blyth, Haiku, 4 Vols., Tokyo: The Hokuseido Press, 1949, 3:340.

2. William J. Higginson, The Haiku Handbook, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1985, p. 133.

3. Donald Keene, World Within Walls: A History of Japanese Literature Vol. 2, New York: Columbia University Press, 1999, p. 79.

4. Asataro Miyamori, trans. Classic Haiku: An Anthology of Poems by Basho and His Followers, Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 2002, p. 83.

5. Makoto Ueda, Basho and His Interpreters: Selected Hokku With Commentary, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1992, p. 59.

5. Loc cit., p. 59.

7. Loc cit., p. 59.

8. Blyth, Haiku, 3: 338.

9. Ueda, Basho and His Interpreters, p. 427.

10. Ibid., p. 429.

11. Ibid., p. 428.

12. Ibid., p. 59.

13. Makoto Ueda, The Master Haiku Poet Matsuo Basho, Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1970, p. 44.

14. Kenneth Yasuda, The Japanese Haiku, Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1957, p. 46.

15. Higginson, The Haiku Handbook, p. 10.

16. Loc cit., p. 10.

17. Ueda, Basho and His Interpreters, p. 57.

18. Loc cit., p. 57.

19. Professor Tim Casey, National Taiwan University, E-mail to author, December 21, 2005.

20. Blyth, Haiku, 3: 338.

21. Harold G. Henderson, Haiku in English, Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1967, p. 18.

22. Lucien Stryk, trans. On Love and Barley: Haiku of Basho, New York: Viking Penguin, 1985, p.10.

23. Daisetz T. Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1959, p. 257.

24. Loc cit., p. 257.

25. Ueda, Basho and His Interpreters, p. 59.

26. Ibid., p. 429.

27. Ibid., p. 59.

28. Alan W. Watts, The Way of Zen, New York: The New American Library, 1957, p. 179.

29. Ibid., p. 178.

30. Harold G. Henderson, An Introduction to Haiku, Garden City, New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1958, p. 19.

31. Keene, World Within Walls, p. 79.

32. Loc cit., p. 79.

33. Robert Aitken, A Zen Wave: Basho’s Haiku and Zen, New York: Weatherhill, 1978, p.29.

34. Loc cit., p. 29.

35. Stephen Henry Gill and C. Andrew Gerstle, eds. Rediscovering Basho: A 300th Anniversary Celebration, Kent, England: Global Oriental, 1999, p. 59.

36. Loc cit., p. 59.

37. Haruo Shirane, Traces of Dreams: Landscape, Cultural Memory, and the Poetry of Basho, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1998, p. 45.

38. Stryk, On Love and Barley, p. 10.

39. Ibid., p. 11.

40. Higginson, The Haiku Handbook, p. 135.

41. Faubion Bowers, ed. The Classic Tradition of Haiku: An Anthology, Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 1996, p. 41.

42. Miyamori, Classic Haiku, pp. 82-3.

43. Blyth, Haiku, 3: 338.

44. Bowers, The Classic Tradition of Haiku, p. 14.

45. Loc cit. p. 14.

46. Higginson, The Haiku Handbook, p. 134.

47. Miyamori, Classic Haiku, p. 83.

48. Hiroaki Sato and Burton Watson, eds. and trans. From the Country of Eight Islands, Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1981, p. 279.

49. Bowers, The Classic Tradition of Haiku, p.14.

50. Ueda, Basho and His Interpreters, p. 57.

51. Higginson, The Haiku Handbook, p. 291.

52. Miyamori, Classic Haiku, p. 83.

53. Keene, World Within Walls, p.78.

54. Hiroaki Sato and Burton Watson, From the Country of Eight Islands, p. 279.

55. Kenneth Rexroth, One Hundred Poems from the Japanese, New York: New Directions, 1964, p. 114.

56. Stephen Henry Gill and C. Andrew Gerstle, Rediscovering Basho, p. 123.

57. Aitken, A Zen Wave, p. 28.

58. Yasuda, The Japanese Haiku, p. 46.

59. Shirane, Traces of Dreams, p. 91.

60. Robert Hass, ed. The Essential Haiku, Hopewell, New Jersey: The Ecco Press, 1994, p. 13.

61. Ueda, Basho and His Interpreters, p. 57.

62. Ueda, The Master Haiku Poet Matsuo Basho, p. 44.

63. Watts, The Way of Zen, p. 179.

64. Keene, World Within Walls, p. 78.

65. Steven Carter, trans. Traditional Japanese Poetry: An anthology, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1991, p. 349.

66. Henderson, Haiku in English, p. 18.

67. Bowers, The Classic Tradition of Haiku, p.14.

68. Blyth, Haiku, 3: 338.

69. Geoffrey Bownas and Anthony Thwaite, trans. The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse, New York: Penguin Books, 1964, p. 111.

70. Miyamori, Classic Haiku, p. 83.

71. Loc cit., p. 83.

72. Loc cit., p. 83.

73. W. G. Aston, A History of Japanese Literature, Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1972, p. 295.

74. Higginson, The Haiku Handbook, p. 9.

75. Stryk, On Love and Barley, p. 11.

76. Maeda Cana, trans. Monkey’s Raincoat, New York: Grossman Publishers, 1973, p. xxix

77. Cid Corman, Little Enough, Frankfort, Kentucky: Gnomon Press, 1991, p. 15.

78. Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture, p. 257.


Republished from Simply Haiku, Spring-Summer 2013, by the author's permission.