A trilingual Poetry Month offering from poet Emiko Miyashita

Here are three from a set of 72 haiku by Paul-Louis Couchoud (1879-1959) in his first Hai-kai collection Au fil de l'eau (1905), which I am just reading in a book titled Le japonisme de Haiku: P.-L.  Couchoud et les échanges culturels franco-japonais in Japanese written by Dr. Yoriko Shibata and published by Kadokawa Gakugei Shuppan in Tokyo.

L'orage se prépare.                                
Toutes les feuilles du tremble
Battent de l'aile.


A poplar tree stands straight connecting the earth and the sky; dark clouds are moving in with the cool wind. A thunder storm is about to begin. The poplar tree is flapping all its leaves, a feeling of tension builds up in the rustling sounds.

A daffodil in our small garden had six buds; every morning we stood by the plant. Now, all six are blooming, we just admire them from our balcony. I think hints and signs excite the mind with dreams of things to come.

Couchoud was traveling in a river boat pulled from the shore; it must have been scary to be on the water in the thunder storm.


D'une main elle bat le linge
Et de l'autre rajuste 
Ses cheveux sur son front.


Someone is washing clothes in the river. While washing with one hand, she tidies her loose hair with the other hand. Nothing special is happening here, however, this small deed enables us to see the young woman more in person. The breeze, the sunshine, the flow of cool river water, the white of the clothes, the blue of the sky. Our imagination continues to seek the missing puzzle pieces.


Une simple fleur de papier
Dans un vase.
Eglise rustique (St-Bouize)


A small church in a village. There is not much to mention, except for a single paper flower in a vase. How quiet and how modest; the paper flower makes me think of timelessness but paper itself turns yellow and crumbles into pieces in the course of time. Perhaps the god is taking a short trip and is away from the church, so that there is no offering of fresh flowers today? 

Couchoud says what haijin (Hai-kai poet) has to do is just to point at things, which he does in these three Hai-kai poems. The things he has selected are still in motion and will be so forever. Lovely!

Emiko Miyashita is a poet and translator based in Tokyo.