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The Fifth Season  Errata
errata for reviewers and others who read The Fifth Season by robin d. gill published by paraverse press


Page 13 why translation needs explanation

Third paragraph, 5 lines from bottom: Please remove the 2) and use it to replace the 3) in the following line, which should be removed, and everything will make sense.

The author-publisher had to share his attention with four old dogs and five cows and because his time was not always his and sometimes lost track of changes requiring other changes and changes made but lost due to computer crashes, then, as a result of making do with old glasses and a monitor problems, found his old eyes too tired to re-find them. Here, part of a sentence was obviously shifted without the number following and the fix was wrong.  Hopefully, there will not be many more such confusing mistakes in the book! Small mistakes such as the "and" in the fourth line from the bottom of the second paragraph are another story.  I will not bother to correct them on this page.

Page 434   Mistranslation possible or probable (I am checking with Japanese friends)

Yayū’s ku, “oi no koshi tsumu ni mo tataku nazuna kana.”  I thought his “aged back” needed a chopping massage after plucking, but after a day out pulling large weeds with my old back (even though I, too, need a massage), I think he may, rather, have meant the following:

a geezer’s back
just to pluck greens i must
beat them first!


my aged back
i must chop up greens
to pluck ‘em

In other words, he cannot even pull up little roots and must cut off the green part in situ. I apologize if I have mistranslated and hope you will note that thanks to my including the word-for-word translation in the book, you, too, had a chance to find the mistranslation (if it is a mistranslation)!

Additional. I put the following  here rather than on the not yet made Glosses page, for I feel like my not finding it and having it in the book constituted negligence). Doing some work on a book of senryu, I found one on seven herb chopping that really should be in the book – it will be in the next edition!

nanakusa o tataite shina to nyōbō ii suetsumu-no-hana suetsumu-hana 1-16
(seven-herbs [acc] beat/chop do![quote] wife says)

the seven herbs
that’s what you’d better hit on
says his wife

In English, one just cannot use the same word for coitus and chopping up food. Thank goodness we have an idiom to bridge the gap. Even if “hit on” is a bit off, I think we can guess what the husband had in mind. We might note that while senryu is irreverent, it captures something precious here, the women of Japan trying to get men with sex-on-the-brain to cool it at a time of sacred ritual.  There is irony in the bad boy of Japanese short-form poetry's defending propriety.

Gloss.  This is here temporarily. Read it if you like seri, mentioned on page 404. Maybe I will add  it to the next edition, though I may have already found a place to squeeze in the great quote from Gilbert White at the end)

katsu susugu sawa no ko-zeri no ne o shiromi-kiyoge ni mono o omowazu mogana saigyō

The seri, which I called “Japanese parsley” on page 404, is one of the seven greens plucked and “beaten” in chapters 19 and 20.  Do you recall my mentioning its shiny pearl-white roots, the ones I stuck upside-down in used coffee ground simply to look at them? I must have read Saigyō’s seri poem in Japanese before I was mesmerized by those roots, or I would surely have noticed it years ago, rather than the other night when I read it in H.H. Honda’s translation “Would I could be cleansed of earthly memories as water-cress / culled from the marsh, / and cleanly washed, / revealing its white roots” (The Sanka shu 1971).  Saigyō’s express desire is not quite what the translation says. It is to “think/worry/long” – his omowazu is the negative for a verb used for lovesick longing or troubled thought about a life gone wrong or the state of the world, etc. – but, since one cannot be deeply troubled over anything without memories, Honda’s sense is correct, as is his “earthly” which is really “worldly,” an allusion to Saigyō’s intent to live a clerical life. Strictly speaking, the words are not interchangeable (and neither were in the original), but how else to equate brain-washing with rinsing roots? Of course, strictly speaking, my “brain-washing” is also off . . .  I ended up killing my own translations because I found Honda’s idea of purifying as a revelatory process and ending on the roots =ne (not quite halfway through the original) more interesting than my attempts to stick more closely to the original. ( I have never seen a kind word for Honda’s translations, and can well understand why; but some, like this one – imperfect as it is (grammatically flawed) – do have something to offer the thoughtful reader.)

But let me explain what most interests me about the original.  Poets in India and China, long before the Japanese had letters, played every angle on the pure blossom of the lotus born in mud, but no one viewed the roots of the seri, much less ate them – unless they go into some Chinese medicine – so it is remarkable Saigyō should pay enough attention to them to indirectly extol them as trope.  Even today, when haiku poets tend to favor something we might call aesthetic-botanizing, and one might expect such attentiveness to useless roots, who writes of them? And, let me add that color is not all of it. White (albino?) roots are common below ground.  Seri roots would be interesting whatever their color. Each root in the cluster is smooth, uniform in diameter and length, and neatly beveled, rather than tapering off as roots that grow in dry dirt do.  Why do I mention this here? Because, seri roots, or rather the paucity of haiku about them, should reassure anyone who might wonder how much potential for novelty remains after hundreds of years of composition by thousands if not millions of poets.  There is no call for concern. What Gilbert White, beloved father of the nature essay, wrote about botany and zoology, namely, “all nature is so full, that that district produces the greatest variety which is the most examined” (Gilbert White  Oct. 8, 1768), is all the more true for themes in haiku because the interest of poetry includes, but does not stop with the limits of biology.


please inform me of large errors and any passage so confusing you suspect an error!


thank you

with the apologies of

the author-publisher



the pict. of the little yellow blossom of prosperity + longevity that blooms on the new year is by hokusai