D’s Poetry : Haiku 14 : Haiku & the Samurai

D’s Poetry is a living archive of all poetry penned by me, Divvya Nirula. Join me on this journey today as we discover the link between Haiku poetry & the Samurai.

“Hot balmy sun looks,
Finds labour working metal,
Lost human-souls – Count.”

Divvya Nirula

Who are Samurai?

In feudal Japan, Samurai referred to members of the Warrior Caste. They were considered the upholders of justice. Fierce and courageous in their actions. Yet, polite and honourable. They were also highly trained in combat. Moreover, they followed a code of honour, known in Japanese as Bushidō. Bushidō enumerated several tenets by which Samurai were supposed to lead their lived. These include :

  • Mercy
  • Rectitude
  • Courage
  • Politeness
  • Sincerity & Honety
  • Loyalty
  • Honour
  • Self Control

Haiku & the Japanese Warrior

I personally, discovered the link between Haiku and the samurai in college. This was the first time I heard of Bushidō.

The Samurai warriors were held to a very high standard in all aspects of life. They were looked up to in Japanese society. Not only did were they highly trained for battle. But also were very refined and cultured people. Therefore, apart from their regular training, they were also very educated.

Samurai were prolific writers, painters and poets. When in public, they practiced tremendous self-control. Therefore, the arts were an outlet for their personal expression and emotions. In fact, in times of peace, they were preoccupied with writing poetry or honing their artistic talents.

It was common also for these warriors to attach a battle banner onto their armour. This banner typically had either a verse of Haiku, or then Tanka poetry. The verse was generally meant as a threat to the enemy. As it would boast of the warrior’s skills.

“Young men march away —
The mountain greenness
is at its peak”

Santōka Taneda (translated by John Stevens)

You are invited along on this journey of discovery and writing. For more poetry and verse by Divvya Nirula, please visit the archive for D’s Poetry.