When I first met Henderson.
I was very young when I visited Japan for the
first time. It was in 1961. I
was on board a Danish
ship as a wireless-operator, and we were bound
Moji in the southern part of Japan.
I found everything so interesting and beautiful
and was fascinated and strongly
moved by Japan,
and I loved the country from my
very first visit.
Later in the years to come, I was still sailing
as a wireless-operator and visited many different ports
and cities in Japan.
During my stays in Japan, I became interested
in the culture of the country and found out that there
were some small poems called Haiku.
My mother gave me a book with Haiku-poems by
Hans -Jørgen Nielsen,
a Danish writer, who as
the first for 50 years ago,in 1963, was writing about
Haiku. In his book, there was the very first
Haiku-collection in Denmark, all the great
classic poets from Japan were represented. -Translated
or re-created into Danish.
Then it all started. I read Haiku, tried to
write some, but I had a lot to learn.
But once I was in Japan
still on board a ship , I had some trouble with
my radio station, which called
for technical assistance
Japanese firm in Kobe. It was back in 1968, and I asked
knew the poetry called Haiku.---- What a
question to ask a Japanese
course he knew
the Haiku-poems, and when he returned
the next day to finish the work, he had
book with him by
Harold G. Henderson, with the title “Haiku in
English”, from the manager of the
with a dinner invitation.
book became an eye-opener, and here I read
about all the rules concerning Haiku-poems, and
learned that Haiku was a
5-7-5 poem, dealing with nature, and happening now.
Who was that man Harold Gould Henderson, whose
little book became my follower through the
years, and still is?
Harold G. Henderson was born in 1889 and died
1974. He was an American
historian and Japanologist.
In 1910 he
earned a degree at Columbia University , and continued his
studies in Japan between 1930 and 1934. For
he was a professor at Columbia University, and from 1948
through 1952 , he was president of
The Japan Society in
New York .
He was also an assistant curator
of The Far East Department of The Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York City
back in 1927-1929. During the second world war he
was doing military service in Japan.
In Tokyo he was an adviser on education and
art, and was working together with R. H.
(another great writer about Haiku)
Blyth is known
for his great work in 4 volumes about Haiku.
Preparing this paper on Haiku, I read the book
“An Introduction to Haiku by Henderson, and was
moved by Basho´s poem,
when he twenty years
after his beloved master and playmate Lord Sengin
had died, again was standing
under the cherry trees, where they had spent so
with his heart
so full of memories, he was unable to write a
normal poem, but could only say:
Many many things
they bring to mind-
I do find this outburst a real good poem, and I
am convinced that everybody,
who is writing
Haiku have written about cherries. And me too!
I am not going to compare myself
with Basho or other
of the great masters – not at all- but here
is one of my own about cherries.
a link to life
In 1679 Basho wrote a verse which was taken as
a model by
other Haiku poets,
more for its technique
than its content.
This Haiku was of course
associated to Basho's
name, but the best known Haiku from Basho came in
1689, and is known by all of us. I need not say more than:
book I also found
The name of a female Haiku poet,
which I didn't
There were different opinions about her
verses , but Henderson stated
“that she was a true poet, but not a Haiku
poem after her
little son died, he mentioned
as one of her finest ones. In Henderson's
translation into English he uses
rhyme (which is not allowed in Haiku, and which I
think one shouldn't use.
But of course it is a nice rhyme, and here it
today, what place has he
got to, I wonder.
It has also been translated in
rhyme by Curtis Hidden Page in a very beautiful
I wonder in what fields today
He chases dragonflies in play
My little boy-who ran away.
Basho and Buson were called
“ The two pillars of Haiku”,
and one of Buson's
about a temple and a butterfly is also one of
my favourite ones :
On the temple bell
settled , and is fast asleep
As everybody knows
was also a painter,
and made very
I too like to write about butterflies, which
is again common for
Through the open door
butterfly is visiting
for a while.
I mentioned before ,- I have been in Kobe , and there on a
rainy day many years ago I met the extreme politeness of
people, which I have caught in the following
to tell you that
it happened twice,
on the same route this rainy day in Kobe:
offers his umbrella
rain in Kobe.
There are so many great Haiku
masters who ought to be mentioned , and also quoted here,
but the time does not allowed it.
I am going to finish this paper with
another of my own poems.
bringing people together
all over the world.
Thank you Mr. Henderson , for taking me into the wonderful world of Haiku
, and thank you to all of you for listening.
Thank you very much.