Snow is an enduring subject of classical haiku. We have looked at the form before but for this week’s theme I thought we might take a look at Kobayashi Issa. I will quote from David Lanoue’s informative blog:

‘One of the four foremost poets of Japanese haiku tradition, Issa is in good company (Bashô, Buson, Issa, Shiki).

He was born in the little village of Kashiwabara in the mountains of Japan’s Shinano Province on the fifth day of Fifth Month, 1763: June 15 on the Western calendar. He died in the same village on the 19th of Eleventh Month in the old Japanese calendar year that corresponds to 1827: the equivalent of January 5, 1828 on the Western calendar. In the long time between these dates he learned the art of haiku (then called haikai) and wandered the length and breadth of Japan, writing everywhere he went. Though his real name was Kobayashi Yatarô, he chose Issa (Cup-of-Tea) as his haiku name. He called himself “Shinano Province’s Chief Beggar” and “Priest Cup-of-Tea of Haiku Temple.” A devout follower of the Jôdoshinshû sect, he imbued his work with Buddhist themes: sin, grace, trusting in Amida Buddha, reincarnation, transience, compassion, and the joyful celebration of the ordinary.’

The Snow is Melting (translated by Robert Hass)

The snow is melting
and the village is flooded
      with children.

Issa might be classical but he can be far from conventional as my favourite Haiku of all demonstrates

Writing Shit about New Snow (translated by Robert Hass)

Writing shit about new snow
for the rich
is not art.

Chance would be a fine thing, Kobayashi!

5 thoughts on “Snowfall

  1. Snowfall

    Waking up as a child in winter
    Opening the curtains
    The whiteness hit us
    It had snowed
    Everything was white
    The roofs overhanging
    With thick white snow
    We were overjoyed

    Walking back from school
    We formed a snowball
    Then we carefully rolled it
    Along the pavements
    In the thickest snow
    It gradually got bigger and bigger
    Heavier and heavier
    We managed with help to get it home
    There we positioned it in the garden
    We then produced a smaller version
    This we placed on top of the big one
    Acting as a head
    Then we used various props
    To act as eyes nose and mouth
    If we were lucky we would find
    An old hat and there it would stay
    Until the thaw came and
    Melted the snowman away

    We would also throw snowballs
    At each other in the streets
    But sometimes there were
    Stones inside them
    Which could be dangerous

    However this fairly short snow play
    Allowed us some cold wet fun
    In the dark winter season


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Snowfall

    You feel it in the air days before

    You know its coming before its there.

    You rush to the window to look outside

    A blanket of snow is on the ground

    Waiting to be touched and unfound

    Benny my cat has never experienced snow

    So the cold to his paws is a blow.

    I have to get dressed now and go outside

    The kids will be out soon making a slide,

    It feels like a treat to be first to walk in

    Its deeper than you think I wonder why

    Thank god you wore boots to keep your feet dry.

    Car to defrost it takes a while

    I will just have to bide my time .

    A white Christmas was expected by all

    But a few days later wont matter to us as everyone makes such a fuss,

    Gritters flying buy and salting the roads

    Or we wont make it home back up the hill.

    By Donna keenan


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