Current Essays

Run your cursor gently over Rowie's ear to 'ear the essay.

Hairimeraku Two On:2008-03-13 17:45:36

Some years ago I introduced to the non-hiberno-nipponic world the hairimeraku of the great master Moshemoshe Dareno-otakudesuka and now, due to a lack of popular requests not to, I’ve decided that it’s about time I brought you some more of his gems.

But first a quick refresher course for any of you who, as luck may have it, have forgotten the hairimeraku.

Back in the sixteenth century a group of Irishmen from the County of Limerick alarmed by the implications for the future well-being of Ireland that were occasioned by the recent introduction of the potato, emigrated to Japan. One of these, in fact old Moshemoshe himself, greeted by the equally recent Japanese creation of the haiku, answered by creating the hairimeraku out of the forms of his native limerick and of the haiku, or perhaps directly from the hokku or even from the maeku of the renga---anyway one of those short Japanese thingies.

In its structure the hairimeraku fulfills both the exacting requirements of the Japanese haiku, and the even more exacting requirements of the Irish limerick---requirements which, it should be stressed, are mutually incompatible!
So the hairimeraku consists of seventeen on (a term that can be loosely translated as ‘syllable’) rhyming upon the fourth, eighth, eleventh, fourteenth and seventeenth on, in the pattern AABBA; (this is a damn sight easier to do in Japanese where almost all words rhyme, than it is in English translation where hardly any of the buggers do) and finally having it’s kireji (the caesura-like grammatical break), usually on the eighth on or fourteenth on, or occasionally on the eleventh on or rarely on the fourth on or indeed on the seventeenth on; and even finally-er, the best of them having both seasonal and salacious aspects as befits their combined ancestry.

It is a notorious truism that poetry is almost incapable of translation, and that the more complex and exacting the poetic form the harder the task. If, for example, you think translating the Old Norse Dróttkvætt is an uncomfortable task, then you’ll find the hairimeraku a real pain.
Yes, the task of the translator is in this case completely impossible and hairimeraku cannot be translated, and only a complete idiot would try---

So here are my translations of some of the greatest hairimeraku of Moshemoshe Dareno-otakudesuka:
The Poet Foresees His Death in a Drop of Rain
Autumn rain drips,
Walking girl slips.
    Yobs cry “Ha!
    “Boo!” and “Ya!”
---Foolish quips.
The Poet is Perplexed by Love1
Spring in Khartoum,
Evening room.
    Who does what,
    And with what,
And to whom?
The Poet Revisits Certain Topics of the Admirable Rabbie Burns Involving Small Animals and a Certain Amount of Hypermetricality2
Spring brings the mole
From out his hole.
    Farmer Dick
    Has a stick...
Sad moles’ bell tolls.
The Poet Contemplates the Transitory Nature of this Sublunary Sphere as Made Manifest by the Agency of Grammatical Change
What I would give
Were it to live
And finally
Young man from Kent
Why are you bent,
    With your foot
    Like a root
In cement?
Cheerio for now
Richard Howland-Bolton


With apologies to those of a sensitive disposition, or indeed any disposition whatever, I have appended some of the influences on certain of the Hairimeraku.  

1 Traditional: A Lesbian home from Khartoum / Took a nancyboy up to her room. / As he put out the light,/ He said "Let's get this right. / "Who does what, with what, and to whom?"
2 R. Burns: WEE, sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beastie, / O what a panic's in thy breastie! / Thou need na start awa sae hasty, / Wi' bickerin' brattle! / I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee /  Wi' murd'rin' pattle!...
Sleekit, sleek.
Bickerin' brattle, flittering flight.
Laith, loth.
Pattle, ploughstaff.
3 Traditional: There was a young man from Kent, / Whose tool was exceedingly bent, / So to save himself trouble, / He fed it in double, /  And instead of coming he went.

<-- Go Back

Home | Essays | Notes | Gallery | Miscellany | Contact

ÐISCLAIMER - I claim ðis!

All contents including writing, cartooning, music, and photography unless otherwise specified are
copyright © 1965-2023 and Richard Howland-Bolton. All Rights Reserved.
All logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.
Web work* by
*as distinct from Wetwork