Old Poem Saturday – Haiku by Buson


A haiku for Old Poem Saturday – this one is by the haiku master Taniguchi Buson (1716-1783) and was translated by Robert Hass. Drawing (ink on paper) and composition by me. This was an early attempt of mine with drawing ink and if this medium teaches you nothing else, it is to celebrate your mistakes and accept spontaneity! Have a lovely weekend!


  1. You might want to know that this poem is actually by Shiki, not Buson. The translator R. H. Blyth mistakenly attributed the poem to Buson (but corrected himself in a later book), but the error was repeated by later translators, including Harold Henderson and Robert Hass (not Haas). For a more complete explanation of the misattribution, please see http://www.graceguts.com/essays/buson-or-shiki-two-autumns. The poem is definitely by Shiki, not Buson — but still a wonderful poem, no matter who wrote it.


    1. Thank you Michael for letting me know! That is a long and storied history of misattribution. The source I used was no less authoritative than X.J. Kennedy’s own Introduction to Poetry textbook! Although he did spell Mr. Hass’ name correctly – that error (thank you also for pointing it out) was purely my own. 🙂


      1. Yes, X. J. Kennedy’s anthology is one of the ones that repeated the attribution error, as my essay mentions. While Kennedy is a wonderful authority on poetic matters, that proves not to be so in this case.


      2. Yes, indeed! I wanted to add that your essay was excellent and the research scientist in me deeply appreciates how much work you put into it. It definitely made me wonder what other attribution errors for translated and pre-modern poetry there are lurking out there. There was recently an article in the NYT about attribution errors for quotations – which has only seemed to get worse with the Pinterest Inspirational Quotes boards!

        I do plan to fix this post in the very near future – repost it and link to your article in the post. How poet’s legacies get shaped is a topic of great interest to me, especially as it is newly shaped by the internet, and so I am grateful for the lead!

        I have enjoyed browsing Graceguts – it is a real pleasure – and I look forward to more posts!


      3. As Abraham Lincoln once said, never trust the Internet! 🙂

        Do you happen to have a link to that NYT article about quotation attributions? That’s a subject that interests me too, and the problems inherent with that are similar to the occasional (but fairly rare) misattributions of haiku.

        Thanks for the good words about my Graceguts.com site — a labour of love, constantly updated, with much more to come, haiku and otherwise.


    2. Ah yes, I’d read that about the Maya Angelou “quotation.” Not really hers, but just associated with her.


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