The Unattainable Flower

From First Known When Lost - a meditation on the "unattainable flower" of the autumn sky. (With a reference to R.H. Blyth whose quartet on Haiku changed my life.)


"This haiku is by Basho (1644-1694):

A flower unknown

To bird and butterfly, --

The sky of autumn.

Basho (translated by R. H. Blyth), Ibid.

As I have noted before, Blyth's four-volume Haiku is the place to start in order to learn about haiku. As I have also noted, one of the wonderful things about Blyth is that he is as knowledgeable about English literature as he is about Japanese literature. Thus, after his translation of the above haiku, he quotes (without comment) a sentence by Richard Jefferies:

"The rich blue of the unattainable flower of the sky drew my soul towards it, and there it rested, for pure colour is rest of heart."

Richard Jefferies, The Story of My Heart: My Autobiography (1883), pages 4-5 .

Very nice, isn't it? -- a Japanese poet of the 17th century and an English writer of the 19th century separately arriving at the same thought half a world away and two hundred years apart."