More Snake Haiku


I was delighted to come across a German translation of my “under the stone ledge” haiku (see previous post, Snake Portrait, right below this one) on the website of the German Haiku Society, along with several other haiku inspired by snakes, which I have quoted here. Note: Copyright belongs to the poets and translators.

Die Schlange glitt davon,
doch ihre Augen
blieben im Gras.

The snake slipped away,
but her eyes
remained in the grass.

Kyoshi Takahama 1874 – 1959


a grass snake
escaping into
my thought of it

eine Grasschlange
flieht in
meine Gedanken an sie

A. Kudryavitsky (IRL/RUS)


crossing the road
and still on both sides
the reticulous python

 überquert die Straẞe
und ist noch auf beiden Seiten
der Netzpython

Karen Hoy (GB)


under the stone ledge
the rattlesnake’s

unter dem Steinvorsprung
die Abwesenheit
der Klapperschlange

Ruth Mittelholtz (CDN)


Translation credits:

1st haiku:

German translation from Japanese by Dietrich Krusche. English translation from German by Google auto-translation.

2nd, 3rd and 4th haiku:

German translation from English by, I believe, the author of the essay, Klaus-Dieter Wirth.


The haiku above were found in the essay “Literary Reference” by Klaus-Dieter Wirth, in the Journal of the German Haiku Society, Dec. 2014, pp 4-19.

In the essay Wirth discusses honka-dori, which he defines as “the clever reference to an earlier known text of haiku literature,” and notes that it has a long tradition in Japan [Google auto translation].

He quotes the first haiku above as an example of a well-known haiku and the second as a haiku that refers to it [i.e. it exhibits honka-dori]. The 3rd and 4th, Wirth says, according to the auto translation “perhaps emerged regardless . . .” i.e. they are probably not examples of honka-dori [my interpretation of the auto translation].

The essay includes many haiku inspired by subjects other than snakes, some originally in German, some originally in English or other languages in which case a German translation is given along with the original language.

If my vagueness about what the essay actually says about honka-dori has sparked your interest, and if you read German, you can find the essay at the above link.

Copyright for quoted haiku belongs to the poets and translators
Post is copyright Ruth Mittelholtz 2016