In class, we read Matsuo Bashō's work, Oku no Hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Interior) (1694). He is a famous Japanese Edo period poet, and considered a master of haiku poetry. His work is truly beautiful, capturing amazing scenes and feelings in his verse. However, this lead our (Chinese) Comparative Lit teacher to talk about the origin of haiku poetry and how Chinese poetry influenced the style. Haiku originated from Chinese jue ju, or curtailed verse in its form. And this is how jue ju came about:
"China in the post-Han era also absorbed inspiration from Buddhism and writings from India that were translated from Sanskrit into Chinese. Buddhism gained strength in China as disorder increased and the domination of Confucian thought diminished. The first major sign of this influence on literature was the adoption of elements of Sanskrit poetic structure, which resulted in two new Chinese verse forms: jue ju (curtailed verse) and lü shi (regulated verse). Both of the verse forms have lines of five or seven characters, or syllables, and each line has a prescribed tonal pattern and alternating rhyme. Curtailed verse is organized in four lines, and regulated verse in eight lines. Too short to tell a story, curtailed verse seeks instead to create a mood in an economical manner. The longer regulated verse is based on coupled lines that are parallel in sound, thought, and tone."
"Chinese Literature," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2008
http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
So now I am simply obsessed with the form! I want to find clips and snippets and full forms, and simply translate them for my own pleasure...