Saturday, May 4, 2013

Butterfly Dream: Early Spring Haiku by Anna Yin

English Original

early spring
I doze off
someone else’s butterfly           

Spring Haiku Prize,   

Anna Yin

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

我打瞌睡 --

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

我打瞌睡 --

Bio Sketch

Anna Yin was born in China and emigrated to Canada in 1999. She has won many awards, including the 2005 Ted Plantos Memorial Award and the 2010 MARTY Award. In 2011, her book Wings Toward Sunlight was published by Mosaic Press. Yin’s  poems in English & Chinese as well as ten translations were included in a Canadian Studies textbook used by Humber College. Her Poetry Alive events have been a new approach to helping people explore and appreciate poetry. CBC Radio, China Daily, and CCTV interviewed her several times. Anna Yin was a finalist for Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Awards 2011 and 2012. Her website:

1 comment:

  1. The shift in theme and tone is humorously effective. I'm impressed by Anna's skillful use of a parodic allusion to Zhuangzi's butterfly dream.

    Below is a relevant excerpt from "To the Lighthouse: Zhuangzi's Butterfly Dream," ( in which I give an in-depth analysis of Basho's butterfly haiku

    The title of the section name, Butterfly Dream, refers to one of the famous stories recorded in the Zhuangzi (pinyin) or Chuang Tzu (Wade-Giles):

    “Once [Zhuangzi] dreamt he was a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was [Zhuangzi.] Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable [Zhuangzi]. But he didn't know if he was [Zhuangzi] who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was [Zhuangzi.] Between [Zhuangzi] and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.” 13

    In the first haiku lexicon, Yama no I (Mountain Spring published in 1647), there is an explanatory passage under the entry titled Butterfly: “Butterfly. The scene of a butterfly alighting on rape blossoms, napping among flowers with no worries. Its appearance as it flutters its feathery wings, dancing like whirling snowflakes. Also the image is associated with [Zhuangzi’s] dream, suggesting that one hundred years pass as a gleam in a butterfly’s dream.” 14 To demonstrate how to use this butterfly imagery, the compiler Kigin gives the following example:

    Scattering blossoms:
    the dream of a butterfly –
    one hundred years in a gleam 15