○ How Do I Use It?

Here, instead of a pine, someone indiscriminantly uproots a young hackberry tree. Wakana (young greens or herbs) are picked on the sixth day of Firsth Month–a traditional New Year’s observance. This haiku refers to the sound of the herbs being pounded into a gruel. Nazuna (shepherd’s purse) is one of the seven herbs of health that are eaten in a gruel on the seventh day of First Month, Mankind’s Day. Literally, the poem ends, “people’s rice” (hito no meshi), which I formerly translated, “human food.” Shinji explained that hito in this context means “unrelated persons,” and so the haiku alludes to the poet’s long, bitter exile from his native village. This unusual and possibly incomplete haiku of 5-5-5 sound units is a revised version of one written the preivous year (1803); Issa changes “in a field” (no wa) to “morning” (asa). People are pounding New Year’s rice cakes; their sound in the morning is a rooster substitute. The dances in question are sacred Shinto dances (kagura). Literally, Issa ends this haiku with the phrase, shikimi oke: a bucket filled with sacred shikimi wood. This haiku was written in Second Month of 1804, which indeed was a Year of the Rat.

The traditional pine-and-bamboo decoration ensures prosperity for the new year. On the 15th day of First Month, wood was whittled into a special cane that was used to strike childless women. And why would they be foolish enough to sneak into a building on University of Nanking property? In Xiaotaoyuan, the area in which Rabe’s house was located, there were plenty of places for Chinese soldiers to hide: the spacious Hujia vegetable garden, the University of Nanking Agricultural School field, and the refugee camp at the Nanking Language School. In this haiku, the servant’s parent(s) may be dead, but there is something comforting and reassuring about the same pine tree, another year alive and well. I will keep that for next year. I will not live in Kobe next year. In traditional Japan the first day of the year was also the first day of spring. Jôdan can mean a dais, the raised part of a floor, or an upper berth. One day, it will grow tall and become part of an ideal moon-gazing scene. An amagimi is a noble lady who has become a Buddhist nun. This haiku has the headnote (From Ryôgoku Bridge a purple sunrise). Arigata is an old word that means “the present state of affairs”; Kogo dai jiten (1983) 83. It does not connote “grateful,” as I thought in my earlier translation of this haiku.

In his journal, Isa Kazuo wrote, “The rains started this morning, turning the ground into mud.” When the roads were muddied due to rain or snow, burials were impossible. Kote-kote (“thickly”) in this context is an onomatopoeic imitation of rattling. In this haiku, I picture a servant returning home to find that one or both of his parents have died while he was away. The servant in this haiku arrives home a day late. Issa means the latter in this haiku. Issa is perversely proud of the fact that he hasn’t put up, at his house, the traditional New Year’s pine-and-bamboo decoration. This is a homesick haiku written while Issa was living in Edo (today’s Tokyo), far from his “parental village” (oya-zato). Makoto Ueda speculates that Issa came upon a stream that was flowing in a northwesterly direction: toward his native village in the mountains. Here, the strong wind stunts the cloud’s growth.

Roe deer grazing Here, as Shinji explains, one tree is spared. Shinji Ogawa helped me to grasp Issa’s meaning in this haiku. Shinji Ogawa, however, believes that there isn’t sufficient evidence in the haiku to assume a parent’s death. Or: “the hut’s.” Issa doesn’t specify that it is his, though this might be inferred. Commenting on the earlier poem, Jean Cholley explains that this is a scene in the poultry market in the Muromachi district of Edo (today’s Tokyo). I joined this class in the middle of it so I don’t really know Taro very well. I will let you know as soon as that schedule has been decided. Or: “graveyard’s pines.” I prefer to picture one particular pine tree that is shading a particular grave a servant is visiting. I picture Issa barefoot. One senses that Issa admires these tough leaves, clinging to their trees. I assume that Issa means himself. The early winter sunset is regrettable from the flowers’ point of view, which Issa compassionately imagines. Furthermore, an evacuation order had been issued on December 8. According to the December 8th edition of the Tokyo Nichinichi Shinbun, residents of the areas of the city in which hostilities were expected to take place fled to the Safety Zone in droves.31 The areas near Guanghua Gate (Southeast Gate) and Zhonghua Gate (South Gate) had been deserted.

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