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.’ http://haikuguy.com/issa/aboutissa.html
The Snow is Melting (translated by Robert Hass)
The snow is melting
and the village is flooded
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!