Nine Haiku of Ryōkan

by Marnen Laibow-Koser

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1.
はちたたき 昔も今も 鉢叩き hachi tataki mukashi mo ima mo hachi tataki banging my bowl then as now banging my bowl
2.
木枯しを 馬上ににらむ 男哉 kogarashi wo bajō ni niramu otoko kana cold winter wind glaring upon a horse a man!
3.
新いけや かはずとびこむ 音もなし
 araike ya kawazu tobikomu oto mo nashi a new pond; a frog jumps in no sound at all
4.
山は花 酒や酒やの 杉ばやし yama wa hana sake ya sake ya no sugiyabashi the mountain is flowering “sake! sake!” sounds in the cedar grove
5.
人の皆 ねぶたき時の 行行子 hito no mina nebutaki toki no gyōgyōshi when everyone is drowsy reed-warblers
6.
さわぐ子の 捕る知恵はなし 初ほたる sawagu ko no toru chie wa nashi hatsu hotaru chattering children will not be able to catch the first firefly
7.
ぬす人に 取り殘されし 窓の月 nusubito no torinokosareshi mado no tsuki the thief left one thing behind: the moon in the window
8.
いざさらば 暑さを忘れ 盆踊 iza saraba atsusa wo wasure bon’odori come on! forget the heat Bon dance
9.
裏を見せ 表を見せて 散る紅葉 ura wo mise omote wo misete chiru momiji showing its back showing its front maple leaf falls

about

These songs were composed for a recital that also included Samuel Barber’s famous Hermit Songs. Since the Barber texts were written by medieval Irish hermits, I chose to set texts that were also written by a hermit, but in a different part of the world.

The hermit whose texts I used here was Ryōkan Taigu (良寛大愚, 1758–1831), a Japanese monk who was also a well-known haiku poet. Following Japanese tradition, I set the poems in seasonal order, ending with Ryōkan’s death poem, as follows:

Winter: 1 and 2
Spring: 3 and 4
Summer: 5 and 6
Autumn: 7–9

The score for this work is available at drive.google.com/open?id=1E1aukVHbwf-u0yYJJxiZFC0o0aI4tY-w .

credits

released June 4, 2018

Katie O’Reilly, soprano
Marnen E. Laibow-Koser, piano

Recorded live at St. Mary’s Church, Charlestown (Boston), Massachusetts, 25 February 2018

license

all rights reserved

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