Kobayashi Issa was a haiku poet in the Edo period who used dialect and spoken words for haiku. Because he was born in the farmer family, and loved to use the plain and simple words. The representative work is “”The Spring of My Life”.
春風や 牛にひかれて 善光寺
Harukaze ya/ Ushi ni hikarete/ Zenkoji
The spring breeze.
Being pulled by a cow
To the Zenkoji temple.
*From the Japanese traditional legend. An old woman who had no faith found herself in Zenkoji while chasing the cow that hung the dried cloth on the horn. As a result, she began to believe Buddhism deeply.
雀の子 そこのけそこのけ お馬が通る
Suzume no ko/ Soko noke soko noke/ Ouma ga touru
The baby spallows,
Make way, make way.
The horse is going to pass along.
すず風や 力いっぱい きりぎりす
Suzukaze ya/ Chikara ippai/ Kirigirisu
The cool breeze.
With all his strength
*kirigirisu: In ancient Japan, “kirigirisu” meant today’s cricket. Kirigirisu means katydid now.
涼風の 曲がりくねって 来たりけり
Suzukaze no/ Magari-kunette/ Kitari keri
The cool breeze
Twisted and crooked,
Then came here.
夏山や 一足ずつに 海見ゆる
Natsu-yama ya/ Hitoashi zutsu ni/ Umi miyuru
The summer mountains.
At my every steps,
I could sea more.
やれ打つな はえが手をする 足をする
Yare utsuna/ Hae ga tewo suru/ Ashi wo suru
Don’t hit it.
The fly rub the hands
Or rub the legs.
牛の子が 旅に立つなり 秋の雨
Ushi no ko ga/ Tabi ni tatsu nari/ Aki no ame
The baby cow
Goes on a trip.
The autumn rain.
長月の 空色袷 きたりけり
Nagatsuki no/ Sora-iro awase/ Kitari keri
The sky wears
A lined kimono.
*The sky also prepared for the cold weather.
ともかくも あなたまかせの 年の暮れ
Tomo-kakumo/ Anata makase no/ Toshi no kure
At any rate,
I leave entirely up to you
At the the year-end.
椋鳥と 人に呼ばるる 寒さかな
Mukudori to/ Hito ni yobaruru/ Samusa kana
“You are a gray starling”
I called by people.
It is cold.
*In Edo Period, the resident of the capital(Edokko) teased an unpolished man who came from the country as “a gray starling”. Because the bird has the unclear voice and boring color of feather.
うまさうな 雪がふうはり ふうはりと
Umasouna/ Yuki ga fuwari/ Fuwari to
It looks appetizing.
The snow softly
これがまあ 終のすみかか 雪５丈
Kore ga maa/ Tsui no sumika ka/ Yuki gojo
Well, this is
My final abode.
The snow lay 15 meter.
正月や 村の小すみの 梅の花
Shogatsu ya/ Mura no kosumi no/ Ume no hana
It’s New Years.
At the corner of the village,
Books about Kobayashi Issa
Issa: Cup-Of-Tea Poems : Selected Haiku of Kobayashi Issa
This book is a guided tour through the work of Japanese haiku master Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), gathering together in one text his most effective and evocative verses. After an introduction to Issa’s poetry and life, the translator, David G. Lanoue, presents 1,210 haiku culled from his on-line archive of 10,000. Lanoue writes, “Issa is a poet who speaks to our common humanity in a way that is so honest, so contemporary, his verses might have been written this morning. Basho is the most revered of the haiku poets of Old Japan, but Issa is the most loved.”
Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827), along with Basho and Buson, is considered one of the three greatest haiku poets of Japan, known for his attention to poignant detail and his playful sense of humor. Issa’s most-loved work, The Spring of My Life, is an autobiographical sketch of linked prose and haiku in the tradition of Basho’s famous Narrow Road to the Interior.
In addition to The Spring of My Life, the translator has included more than 160 of Issa’s best haiku and an introduction providing essential information on Issa’s life and valuable comments on translating (and reading) haiku.
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