Jan 26 2018

Buson – Miles of frost

Published by at 9:08 am under Poetry

Miles of frost
by Buson

English version by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto

Miles of frost —
on the lake
the moon’s my own.

— from Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter, Translated by Lucien Stryk / Translated by Takashi Ikemoto

/ Image by 4k1 /

This haiku doesn’t emphasize that pivot that startles the awareness into new insight. Instead, it offers us a pure moment of winter solitude at dusk.

Miles of frost —

This phrasing suggests not only a chilly evening, but a landscape of silence. No activity. No carts on the road. No animals scurrying in the underbrush. Nothing but untouched frost upon the land.

In the midst of this scene of chill stillness stands the implied observer — us. We stand there alone in the quiet scene, elevated as the solitary presence, wrapped in curling mist of our own breath.

And then we see the moon reflected upon the lake’s surface at twilight.

on the lake
the moon’s my own.

With no one else to witness it, the moon becomes a private gift. The moon and the observer share this moment of intimacy in the silent company of the lake.

We can, if we choose, read this in a more consciously spiritual light: The full moon is often used to suggest enlightened awareness. The lake is mind. When the surface is still, the mind has grown quiet and it reflects the serene light of the moon. The miles of frost can suggest the wider world as perceived by the senses has also been quieted through spiritual practice. In this unified state of stillness, the moon, enlightenment, becomes one’s own.

Or perhaps it is only a lake and the moon on a quiet night. Then again, perhaps the moon’s reflection whispers to us of enlightenment, whether we recognize it or not.

Recommended Books: Buson

Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhala Library) The Moon Over Tagoto: Selected Haiku of Buson

Buson, Buson poetry, Buddhist poetry Buson

Japan (1716 – 1784) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

Taniguchi Buson (or Yosa Buson) was known in his day primarily as an excellent painter, but today he is often grouped with Basho and Issa as among the finest writers of haiku poetry.

He was born outside of Osaka, Japan, but lost both parents while still young. He moved to Edo (Tokyo) to study painting and haiku. He later settled in Kyoto, making a name for himself as a painter.

When we compare Buson with Basho, Buson’s haiku are more crafted than Basho’s, showing the precision of a painter’s eye.

More poetry by Buson

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Buson – Miles of frost”

  1. Annaon 26 Jan 2018 at 9:49 am

    I like very much haiku as well Buson.

    Brrrrrrrrrr, just felt the frost on/within my body….:)

    Thank you, Ivan.


    The frost, the lake, the moon-




    the unity of their
    expression as a

    Whole picture,



    Every part has it’s

    sovereign individuality

    Of expression,

    Depends of the Focus…


    Lately have met a text with similar experience.

    Enjoy the Beauty in it…

    “I was watching one drop form high above me, knowing somehow it would land on me. I watched it curling its energy into enough mass that it would suddenly burst from its leafy post and let gravity have its way with it. It began its descent, and I watched it fall into my eye with great relish. As it hit my eye, I immediately felt my body, such as it was in this world, become like water. It was a very strange experience, I began to dissolve, and I flowed into the river and felt myself merging into the water that flowed downstream.

    I rushed by stones and boulders and smooth branches that poked out of the river like bones of trees that had long passed to a new world. I heard the sound of rushing water; I felt the movement, unburdened of any desire or will. It was utterly freeing to flow like this. To feel movement and yet no will. To be separate yet part of a whole. It was ecstasy. It was alignment.”

  2. marrobon 26 Jan 2018 at 3:29 pm

    What a simple, reflective,beautiful haiku as the sun sets (glorious)
    on this chill evening . And yes, I see the moon rising over the ice-crusted
    trees and rooftops, repeating Buson’s words. Thank you, Ivan

  3. Karenon 26 Jan 2018 at 9:25 pm

    Thank you, Ivan

  4. Mahek Khwajaon 26 Jan 2018 at 11:19 pm


  5. Mahek Khwajaon 27 Jan 2018 at 12:05 am

    Reminds me of Robert Frost’s Passing By Woods on a Snowy Evening’…

  6. Annaon 28 Jan 2018 at 11:40 am

    I keep returning to haiku.:)

    Two more lovely haiku from Issa.

    No comments.

    Just stillness….

    in the depths of the lake
    billowing clouds

    Just by being,
    I’m here —
    In snow-fall.

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