Friday, February 02, 2007

Second Annual Brigid in Cyberspace Poetry Reading

In celebration of the Second Annual Brigid in Cyberspace Poetry Reading, I present you with one of my favorite poems. Not the most bright and cheerful of poems, but the depth of emotion expressed is nearly tangible.

The Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827) is considered one of the 4 great Japanese poets. He was remarkably prolific, leaving more than 20,000 haiku in journals when he passed. He wrote this after the death of his daughter Sato. Dew is a common symbol for the Buddhist theme of the transience of all things. According to Buddhist teaching, life is as fleeting as the dew and we should eschew attachment to the things of this world. But he can't quite let go, his heart aches with the profound loss.

This world of dew
Is but a world of dew
And yet, and yet

Poetry, especially haiku, is difficult to translate (the above is the translation that best expresses the feel of the original Japanese, imo). This has also has been translated as:

this world
is a dewdrop world
yes... but...

And in Japanese for those of you who are picky about such things (like myself)

tsuyu no yo wa
tsuyu no yo nagara
sari nagara

1 comment:

Heather Joins The Round said...

My favorite haiku:

Bird of time
In Kyoto
Pining for Kyoto.

This was the first poem I ever understood before someone could explain it to me. I still think about it sometimes, when life's changes make me nostalgic. It's Basho.