Sep 24 2012

Kobayashi Issa – Autumn wind

Published by at 9:49 am under Poetry

Autumn wind
by Kobayashi Issa

English version by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto

Autumn wind —
mountain’s shadow

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

/ Photo by sektordua /

Something to welcome in the Autumn season today…

In that “autumn wind,” late in one’s life, far down the road of one’s spiritual practice, the imposing shadow cast by that “mountain” (of matter, world, self) seems somehow to waver, becoming less tangible, more dream-like, leaving us in a surprisingly fluid reality.

Before long it’s not just the trees and the grasses that dance in the wind, but mountains too!

Kobayashi Issa, Kobayashi Issa poetry, Buddhist poetry Kobayashi Issa

Japan (1763 – 1828) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

Kobayashi Issa, or simply Issa, is one of Japan’s best known and appreciated haiku poets.

Issa was born in Kashiwabara, in what is now part of the Nagano Prefecture in Japan. His father was a farmer. Issa’s mother died when the boy was very young and his father soon remarried. Issa’s stepmother mistreated him and, when he was fourteen, Issa was sent to Edo (Tokyo) where he studied haiku.

Although he gained some notoriety for his poetry early on, he struggled to get by financially and had to travel and work hard until his fifties.

Though Issa’s life was filled with struggles — the death of his mother at an early age, the conflicts with his stepmother, his poverty, and the death of his own children — his haiku tend to celebrate the serene joys and simple spiritual moments of life.

More poetry by Kobayashi Issa

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Kobayashi Issa – Autumn wind”

  1. maryann moonon 24 Sep 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Dear Ivan,

    It’s awareness that needs polishing, as you have come to realize. Awareness of God’s Love going with you, or me is what needs our acknowledging. In today’s Heaven Letter, God says , “you have the sparkling of the stars in the night sky, now, who can possibly describe how powerfully they serve you?” and “Where is My Love NOT? Only in your awareness may My Love not be. Only in your awareness is My Love an interim thing!” For He wants us to remember His Love Is Constant.

    You’re an inspiration for all of us with these poems and your musings are a delight, too.

  2. jeaanon 24 Sep 2012 at 2:11 pm

    windsong is here
    moonlight dances with naughty clouds
    my hair is taken by this late hour
    welcoming autumn forces
    leaves sway
    unwise and happy
    as well as me

  3. Melissaon 24 Sep 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Thank you, Ivan, for ushering in this inward-turning season. And noticing the wavering.

  4. marrobon 24 Sep 2012 at 7:40 pm

    After the day’s inner city cacophany, the simple elegance of
    a few words, the deft stroke of a well placed hyphen in Issa’s haiku
    bring the longed for silence ….. like coming home.

    Thank you, Ivan .

  5. bharation 24 Sep 2012 at 9:53 pm

    each day… more beautiful than the next!

    Hindi language has the one word for both tomorrow and yesterday!

  6. Jelenaon 25 Sep 2012 at 1:25 am

    Just a few verses and your insightful commentary, and our “mountains” are not as solid. Shadows waver. Thank you.

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