Sep 24 2012
by Kobayashi Issa
English version by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto
Autumn wind —
— 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, 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.