by Kobayashi Issa

English version by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto
Original Language Japanese

in the dragonfly's eye --

-- from Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter, Translated by Lucien Stryk / Translated by Takashi Ikemoto

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

To appreciate the depth of this haiku, imagine the qualities of a dragonfly. It is beautiful, ephemeral, almost ethereal. Its wings are translucent, yet glisten with rainbow colors when they catch the light. On summer days it darts about, almost impossible to catch, then hovers still, in midair, contemplating the world about it.

And its eyes, in Issa's haiku, reflect.

One way to understand this poem is that the dragonfly represents the mind become self aware, resplendent, delighting in its intangible beauty. It darts here and there, and then stabilizes. In recognizing its own insignifigence, it becomes alive to a world of wonder and immensity that surrounds it.

In this way, even a dragonfly's minute eye reflects the grandeur of the mountains. The mind, in its stillness, in recognizing its nothingness, manages to reflect the immensity of eternity.

Recommended Books: Kobayashi Issa

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry Haiku Enlightenment: New Expanded Edition
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