Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

The butterly grown old
its spirit plays
among chrysanthemums

 

Enomoto Seifu

From Seifu-ni Kushū. At autumn’s end, a butterfly flutters weakly among the chrysanthemums. The flight of this creature so close to death suggests a ghost playing dreamily among the flowers. One feels that the poet, with her keen sensitivity, has become aware of her own aging and is comparing herself to the butterfly; this creates deep pathos. Seifu was the daughter of the leading innkeeper of Hachiōji in Musashino Province, at whose establishment the great provincial lords stayed on their trips back and forth to the capital. Widowed early, she became a Buddhist nun, studied haiku with the brilliant Kaya Shirao, and eventually became the leading female haiku poet of her day. She is famous for the following haiku, with its highly unusual subject: “The passing Spring! / Among the mugwort, / human bones” (yuku haru ya / yomogi ga naka no / hito no hone).

(Chō)老て(oite)

たましひ(tamashii)(kiku)(ni)

あそぶ(asobu)(kana)

榎本星布(えのもとせいふ)

『星布尼句集』所収。晩秋の蝶が力なく菊に戯れながら翔んでいる。死期も近い蝶のその飛翔を、魂がうつつなく菊に遊んでいると見てとったのである。鋭い感覚の中に、老いを感じそめた自らの身を晩秋の蝶になぞらえている気配も見えて哀れふかい。作者は武蔵国八王子の本陣の娘で、若くして夫と死別、尼になり、俳諧を俊才()()白雄に学んで抜きんでた女流俳人となった。「ゆく春や蓬が中の人の骨」という異色作は有名。