HYAKUIN RENGA

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A hyakuin is the great classical form of renga, used in such famous poems as ‘Three Poets at Minase’ and ‘Three Poets at Yuyama’. To follow the example of the Japanese master poets of five hundred years ago is impossible: we have neither the skill nor the cultural depth of allusion to do so. But I have become fascinated by the experience of time in renga, the rhythm of morning unfolding into afternoon, and this led me to extend the renga day to its fullest measure of 24 hours.

Three times now myself and a few other friends have sat down together at noon and renga’d through to the following bleary-eyed noon. This is the second hyakuin renga, composed in the ornate glass camellia house at Yorkshire Sculpture Park on an icy Midsummer Day, 2004.

Morven Gregor has selected one of her photographs to represent each hour of the renga.

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camellia house midsummer haykuin renga
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton (England).
noon-noon, 21-22 June 2004

This hyakuin renga was composed by nine poets: Paul Conneally, Anne-Marie Culhane, Alec Finlay, Linda France, Morven Gregor, Jackie Hardy, Alex Hodby, Gerry Loose, Beth Rowson.

The renga schema was composed by Jane Reichold.

 

The floor’s a place
for an outdoor feast,
food in a basket

___a quick rub with a dock leaf
___and all is well

yesterday’s moon
still shining in the bowl
of her throat

___upside down
___pores not gills

too large for the pond
the carp circling
only one way

___the shadows beneath
___her eyes grow darker

a tongue wags in with
in that dress
you’d expect nothing less

___the small boys pee a row
___of zeros in the snow

urged on
the vicar steps
off the church tower

___goosewing
___into the harbour

oiled
cormorant
can never be cleaned

___the shop assistant eyes up
___stains on his jacket

dark archipelagos
and outlined islands
where they may go

___the honeymoon, paid for
___by his parents

you’re always beautiful
muttered
to the daisies

___they bury the lamb
___in the half–light

spring’s broken,
she shakes the watch
against her ear

___another spaceship enters
___the orbit of the moon

radios crackle
as an electric storm
kicks in

___bake the pears whole
___in sugar and red wine

the burn is brackish
a race of rust
and shed wool

___his beard unstuck
___we recognise Santa Claus

lost in the woods
Hänsel and Gretel
could only eat gingerbread

___growing up fast
___she slams the door

in the face of it
the waiter rolls
the dragon’s eyes

___looking down
___stairs can be dangerous

the elixir’s made
of coltsfoot wrapped in
butterbur leaves

___untie the ribbons
___on the Maypole

making for the open
two hares chase
across the down

___we stagger home
___for the love of Bowmore

sandy toed
shoes on our heads
wading tidal flats

___spun, spun, spun
___into a waltzer kiss

a line of light
traced onto sky
my head aches

___on the long flight east
___two orange dawns

these fried peaches
are they breakfast
or last night’s tea?

___first win of the season
___we follow the moon

cry of an owl
circling
whose hunting who?

___in the dark
___we almost felt the same

the differences
between our bodies
get less with age

___despite the bleeps
___we talk over everything

fuck this!
fuck that!
is all the walls say

___the new school
___ringed by a six foot fence

we catch flies
for the biology teacher’s
flesh eating plants

___popcorn spills over
___at the late night double bill

wiping off
her make-up
on the last bus

___if you sit still long enough
___you can watch the flowers open

in the birthing pool
the baby slips out
from liquid to liquid

___my ears pop as we enter
___the channel tunnel

for the love of country
I fled
and now you send me back?

___a birthday present
___she keeps the receipt

locked in a drawer,
an amulet,
a loaded gun

___arms raised for St Jerome
___the blood bubbles

across the land
wells spring
spreading black poison

___nightshade
___cut with a scythe

the charcoal burners camp
in the middle
of Oak Wood

___a twist of smoke
___plies through the mist

at the crater’s edge
disturbed by feet
a pebble dances down

___she fell in love
___with her psychoanalyst

together on a couch
a woman
and her cat

___fingers in a bowl
___of tormentil

a whole childhood
along ditches
of frogspawn

___my nose led by
___smells of wild garlic

walking to the souk
for lemons
and a heel of ginger

___the bitterness wears off
___as time goes by

an undertaker
practices his tuba
in the moonlight

___first hint of frost
___cracks the gardener’s resolve

the whole street’s washing
sooted up
by Mr. Smith’s bonfire

___even the blue ribbon
___has turned to ashes

shouldn’t it be gold
that is found
at the end of the rainbow?

___spiral notebooks and other
___tiny packaged objects

what can I say,
mice have been at the
snowdrop bulbs again

___up and up
___through the dead leaves

still sitting
the swan beaks
her massive nest

___from the bank cows watch
___a narrowboat pass

which is the river?
which is a canal?
and which the sea?

___we sail them all anyway
___in search of Tir na nOg 1

the High Possil’s hat 2
could only
suit you

___what is he to think
___all those hearts on her sleeve?

Lady Murasaki 3
elegantly dabs
a welling tear

___everyone wants to be
___a workie at breakfast

pull up the blinds
and the moon will shine
on buttered toast

___the train’s delayed
___by the wrong sort of mist

under a beech
the sheep gather
in closed circles

___she clings to his back
___as they cross the river

you see turquoise
behind your eyes
when he touches like that

___the ice cap
___stops melting

Scott crossed out 4
the word ‘wife’
and wrote ‘widow’

___the auctioneer’s hammer
___comes down with a bang

fourteen cock pheasants
go rocketing
over the hedge

___in her buttonhole
___a speckled feather

up before dawn
to the meadows
mushrooming alone

___he breathes out,
___it’s only the moon

willow leaves
float onto and under
the old bridge

___our log pile shifts
___a yowl from the vixen

the smudge of scarlet
through glass you know
is Japanese quince

___painting outdoors
___a delight of warmer days

it takes more time
to hide decorated eggs
in their small garden

___the Buddha’s topknot
___lifts him to the light

helicopter blades
whirl incessantly
overhead

___poets shift
___closer to the ground.


   

1 Tir na nOg: Land of Youth in Irish myth.
2 High Possil, a place in Glasgow that Gerry Loose personifies as someone
like the pontiff with a big hat.
3 Murasaki Shikibu, author of The Tale of Genji.
4 Captain Scott of the Antarctic.

This hyakuin renga was composed by nine poets: Paul Conneally, Anne-Marie Culhane, Alec Finlay, Linda France, Morven Gregor, Jackie Hardy, Alex Hodby, Gerry Loose, Beth Rowson.

The renga schema was composed by Jane Reichold.

 

renga schema

1. summer
2. summer
3. autumn moon
4. autumn
5. autumn
6. misc.
7. winter
8. winter
9. travel
10. travel
11. lamentations
12. love
13. love
14. love
15. spring flowers
16. spring
17. spring
18. autumn moon
19. autumn
20. autumn
21. autumn
22. winter
23. lamentations
24. lamentations
25. misc.
26. misc.
27. spring flowers
28. spring
29. spring love
30. love
31. love
32. love
33. misc.
34. travel
35. autumn travel
36. autumn moon
37. autumn
38. love
39. love
40. lamentations
41. lamentations
42. misc.
43. misc.
44. misc.
45. misc.
46. misc.
47. travel
48. travel
49. love
50. love
51. love
52. religion
53. religion
54. autumn moon
55. autumn
56. autumn
57. travel
58. love
59. love
60. spring flower
61. spring
62. spring
63. travel
64. lamentations
65. autumn moon
66. autumn
67. autumn
68. lamentations
69. lamentations
70. misc.
71. spring flower
72. spring
73. spring
74. travel
75. travel
76. travel
77. love
78. love
79. love
80. misc.
81. autumn moon
82. autumn travel
83. autumn
84. travel and love
85. love
86. winter
87. winter
88. misc.
89. misc.
90. misc.
91. autumn
92. autumn moon
93. autumn
94. misc.
95. spring flower
96. spring
97. spring religion
98. spring religion
99. misc.
100. misc.

This hyakuin schema was devised following the pattern used by Sogi in his “Solo Sequence of 1492” as presented in Steven D. Carter’s The Road to Komatsubara.










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