D’s Poetry : Haiku 83 : Reginald Horace Blyth

D’s Poetry is a living archive of all poetry penned by me, Divvya Nirula. Join me on this journey today as we discuss poet and author Reginald Horace Blyth.

Pond of light and air
Frog leaps, darts, jumps and splashes
Left are You and I

Divvya Nirula

Blyth was born in Essex, England. Following the end of World War I, Blyth went to the University of London. He graduated in 1923 with an honour degree in English. Apart from reading and writing, he was also a self-trained polyglot and musician.

In 1925, Reginald Horace Blyth moved to Korea with his wife, Anna Bercovitch. By this time, he had a teaching certificate from the London Day Training College. Thus, he took up the job of an assistant professor at the Keijo University in Seoul. Retaining his passion to learn new languages, Blyth began learning Chinese and Japanese. He also immersed himself in the study of zen practices.           

In 1940, Blyth moved to Kanazawa, Japan where he became an English teacher at a school. In 1946, he began teaching at Gakushuin University. He also began privately tutoring Crown Prince Akihito. In 1954, the University of Tokyo awarded him a doctorate in literature.

Blyth was instrumental in popularizing zen and Japanese forms of poetry in the west. He himself wrote haiku and senryu prolifically. In addition to this, he wrote several books on these subjects.

Blyth’s contributions to sparking Western interest in Japanese culture is felt even today. Especially in England. In fact, the British Haiku Society as also named their popular quarterly journal, Blithe Spirit, after the famous poet.

Reginald Horace Blyth died in 1964 in Tokyo.

“A haiku is not a poem, it is not literature; it is a hand beckoning, a door half-opened, a mirror wiped clean. It is a way of returning to nature, to our moon nature, our cherry blossom nature, our falling leaf nature, in short, to our Buddha nature.”

R.H. Blyth, Haiku

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.