“Agencies for the homeless stuggle to cope with demand” (Anon)



………………..in the milk beggar’s sleeve dried bonito





“Agencies for the homeless stuggle to cope with demand” (New Zealand Herald)


Anonymous 18th century senryu translated by Dick Whyte (see Donald Keene, ‘World Within Walls’ for the original Japanese). Read more classical Japanese poetry.




  1. Laurence Stacey

    This is an excellent translation Dick! I love that you’ve captured the sabi within the image, something that usually isn’t seen with senryu. Lovely work my friend!

  2. Dick Whyte

    Thanks man!! Yeah, I was pleased with it. I took Keene’s word on it with calling it a senryu, because it is VERY haiku like. I could easily imagine Basho writing this (and actually – in Basho’s time there was not such a hard and fast distinction, right?).

  3. Laurence Stacey

    Right, there were definite categories of haiku and senryu, but not as much bickering over what poems belong where.

  4. Dick Whyte

    Right – although I thought the term senryu wasn’t coined until the 1800s? Which would mean in Basho’s time it would have been haikai – which covered both haiku and senryu flavors? Or am I wrong on that one? The haikai had the humorous flavor and the opening verse of the renga separated from the links eventually became the haiku (under Basho)?

  5. Laurence Stacey

    Yes, that is true. During Basho’s time it was haikai. The history on that is a little weird, as the humorous verse disappeared for awhile and then was resurrected, I think by Basho. Higginson discusses that in his Haiku handbook. I may need to go back through that chapter.

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