Haiku of the Day : Freesia Fever

I doze off
In the scent of freesias
High fever.

Je somnole encore
Dans l’arôme des freesias…
Forte fièvre.

This haiku written by Mariko Koga (b. 1924) is from an excellent collection of haiku written by women poets, Anthologie Du rouge aux lèvres. Translated by Dominique Chipot and Makoto Kemmoku (public library). The English translation is mine.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin



  • Sandra: So beautiful 😍
    Yesterday my neighbor brought me a poem called “on children” by Khalil Gibran
    She thought I would enjoy it as a mother of 2, but I think anyone would love and appreciate the lines.

    Have a wonderful weekend May 4, 2018 at 8:46am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! I enjoy the poems all of you share.

      Have a great weekend! May 4, 2018 at 10:21am Reply

  • Gabriela: Sandra, what a beautiful poem, made my day.
    Victoria, my little girl is planting freesias at school, can’t wait to smell them! May 4, 2018 at 10:09am Reply

    • Victoria: How nice! Hope that they grow quickly. 🙂 May 4, 2018 at 10:20am Reply

  • Filomena: Lovely…and the photo is beautiful! May 4, 2018 at 10:24am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you liked it. Happy Friday! May 4, 2018 at 10:46am Reply

  • Emilie: Thank you for sharing this with us non-French speakers 🙂 Those freesias look so cheerful!

    I think it must be especially difficult to translate haiku due to the importance of cadence and rhythm. May 4, 2018 at 10:30am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s such a great anthology, and I wish that it were available in English. Haiku is supposed to follow the 5-7-5 syllable structure, but it’s hard to keep to this rule, while retaining the meaning of the original (they helpfully included the Japanese version too).

      The most difficult part of translating haiku into English is that Japanese language includes lots of homonyms, and there is a subtle play on words that is lost. May 4, 2018 at 10:46am Reply

      • Emilie: Yes that would make it even more challenging. I suppose this is why in most English translations there is usually a plethora of ‘oh by the way’ footnotes explaining such subtelties at the end of each poem. To give a better picture of the whole as it was intended in a round about sort of way 😉 May 4, 2018 at 10:55am Reply

        • Victoria: Plus, Japanese language has so many registers, depending on the level of formality, etc. And of course, the old Japanese is very different from the modern one. Yet, learning haiku by heart is a great way to study Japanese, because as you say, you learn to hear the musicality of the language and its flow.

          Interestingly enough, French also contains quite a few homophones, so it’s perfectly adapted to the interesting word plays of haiku. May 4, 2018 at 11:29am Reply

  • Emilie: That is a wonderful idea! What a beautiful way to learn or improve language skills. I remember when learning Japanese at school I became obsessed with trying the softer Kansai dialect because it sounded so lovely… but it was certainly not in the curriculum! My essays and speeches ended up peppered with little regional changes like ‘ookini’ for thank and it drove my teacher crazy!

    My Japanese is incredibly poor but I love your ‘haiku a day’ memorisation idea and I think I may make it a resolution to attempt this. It will certainly be an enjoyable exercise 🙂 May 4, 2018 at 11:47am Reply

    • Victoria: I love the Kansai dialect too, but I’m mostly in the Kanto region when I go to Japan.

      Next time I will include the Japanese original too. May 4, 2018 at 12:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: By the way, Gendai Haiku 2001 / Japanese Haiku 2001 is a good bilingual (English and Japanese) anthology. It features many modern poets. May 4, 2018 at 3:07pm Reply

      • Emilie: Ah thank you Victoria! I always love the suggestions on your booklists so I will definitely be looking for this. May 4, 2018 at 7:04pm Reply

        • Victoria: There are not as many I hoped, though. I find that bilingual editions are much more popular among the French publishers. If I find more, I will make a separate list. Of course, if anyone has further suggestions, I’d also appreciate them. May 5, 2018 at 2:39am Reply

  • Emilie: *thank you May 4, 2018 at 11:48am Reply

  • Alexandra Fraser: Lovely haiku lovely translation. Thank you May 5, 2018 at 5:49am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: I rather like the slightly raspy, peppery scent of freesias. Would there be any perfume which picks it up? May 6, 2018 at 12:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: The best freesia perfume for me is Antonia’s Flowers. Have you tried it? May 7, 2018 at 1:40am Reply

      • OnWingsofSaffron: Thanks for the tip. I must admit I‘d never heard of it before! May 7, 2018 at 1:57am Reply

        • Victoria: It’s a brand created by a florist in the 1980s and the first perfume was composed by the great Bernard Chant. There is another perfume called Tiempe Passate, but the original Antonia’s Flowers is my favorite. May 7, 2018 at 4:10am Reply

  • Karen: I love this idea! In this month’s Vanity Fair magazine, I read about John and Clara Molloy, the husband-and-wife team of Memo Paris, who have launched a new fragrance label, Floraïku. Available exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue, the collection consists of 11 scents based on floral notes and was inspired by Japan – from the haiku motif to the bento-box packaging. It is quite pricey at $350 a bottle, but I plan to get over to Saks and sample some of the testers – they sound delicious~ May 6, 2018 at 4:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, I’m interested to know more, and I would love to hear what you think when you try it. May 7, 2018 at 1:41am Reply

    • Silvermoon: This new venture sounds interesting. I know Memo and find their bottles are always beautiful. In terms of perfume, I have and really like Lalibella. And Irish Leather is great on men (not to mention the lovely bottle). I will check the new range out – curious what flowers they picked? – although doubt I shall purchase any at that price. I wish niche brands would consider making 30ml bottles more often. A good enough size for what one loves, an affordable amount for adding to ones collection, great for traveling or carrying in ones handbag, etc. May 9, 2018 at 5:54pm Reply

      • Karen: I agree entirely, VERY expensive! Occasionally, however, I am able to get a small decant of even these high-end fragrances and I hope you can, too. But yes, would be nice to purchase just a few drops without having to sell a limb…

        Here is a 2017 Vogue interview with creator Clara Molloy (https://en.vogue.me/beauty/floraiku-launches-exclusively-on-ounass/), but she does not indicate which flowers were used. May 12, 2018 at 12:14pm Reply

  • Carla: Mmmm, like the hyacinth in my bedroom, perfume wrapping down the hall into the other rooms too May 7, 2018 at 9:08am Reply

    • Victoria: The hyacinth! Another scent I imagine enveloping me and sending me into slumber. May 7, 2018 at 1:54pm Reply

  • Aurora: How charming, and featuring one of my favorite flowers, never quite satisfied with it in perfume, too difficult to imitate, your translation is lovely. May 10, 2018 at 2:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! 🙂 May 12, 2018 at 10:26am Reply

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