Over a stone


Alabaster in the sun

Over a stone
What is flying
Is only clouds

As I held up my fragment of Alabaster stone to the sun, I thought of this Haiku.  It is by a pupil of Matsuo Basho.  I’m enchanted by the translucency of alabaster and was taking a few moments in the glory of it.

Basho (1644-1694) began writing poetry when he was young and quickly became a fixture among the intelligentsia of Edo period Japan and had many followers and students.  However, he rejected urban life and was known to take to the countryside to wander in the wilderness, his experiences and observations of nature fueling his work.  Basho felt he could reveal nature and emotion more directly in hokku, and is in fact given the credit for developing the haiku as a free standing poem.

There is a Noh song (Noh is an ancient form of Japanese drama) called Sessyouseki – meaning a stone killing every creature.  The stone is made by the gush of volcanic sulphurizing gas.  Basho saw this during his travels and spoke of the stone being in the shade of a mountain, where a hot spring gushed out, and its poisonous character remained, killing heaps of insects such as bees and butterflies.

I have different skies here – today, soft white alabaster clouds.






  1. Comment by Annie:

    What a fascinating post. I always want to touch alabaster when I encounter it, an incredible stone, and I love your alabaster cloud.

    • Reply by Jennifer:

      Thanks Annie – the Cathedral of Volterra in Italy, has windows made from alabaster, letting through a milky, soft light

  2. Comment by Caroline:

    An exquisite post, Jennifer.

    • Reply by Jennifer:

      Thankyou Caroline – I’ve got a little folder with all the poems, in one form or another, that I’ve collected – it is lovely to go through from time to time.

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