ZPi Logo "Serving the Paranoid
since 1997"
Lyle Zapato

A Tree Octopus Renku

Lyle Zapato | 2011-04-21.0388 LMT | Cephalopods | Art

This is a renku (precursor to the haiku) by 17th century samurai poet Nishiyama Sōin, noted for his free-wheeling zaniness. My translation:

wisteria on pine --
a tree octopus climbs
there's a spectacle!

The second line would probably be more literally translated as "an octopus climbing a tree", but that wouldn't fit the renku form in English, so I chose the more economical "tree octopus". I haven't yet found any reports of actual tree octopuses in Japan, but Sōin's imagery -- intended as it was to appeal to common folk -- hints at a general awareness in contemporary Japan of some octopuses' love of trees.

End of post.