The Spring of My Life: And Selected Haiku by Kobayashi Issa

Don't worry, spiders,
I keep house

Napping at midday
I hear the song of rice planters
and feel ashamed of myself.

Pissing in the snow
outside my door--
it makes a very straight hole.

The pheasant cries
as if it just noticed
the mountain.

Writing shit about new snow
for the rich
is not art.

The man pulling radishes
pointed my way
with a radish.

A cuckoo sings
to me, to the mountain,
    to me, to the mountain.

In spring rain
a pretty girl

All the time I pray to Buddha
I keep on
killing mosquitoes.

New Year's morning:
the ducks on the pond
quack and quack.

That wren

That wren--
looking here, looking there.
You lose something?

This moth saw brightness
in a woman's chamber--
burnt to a crisp.

Face of the spring moon--
about twelve years old,
I'd say.

In this world
we walk on the roof of hell,
gazing at flowers.

Summer night--
even the stars
are whispering to each other.

His death poem:

        A bath when you're born,
        a bath when you die,
        how stupid.

The moon tonight--
I even miss
her grumbling.

The crow

The crow
walks along there
as if it were tilling the field.

Napped half the day;
no one
punished me!

The toad! It looks like
it could belch
a cloud.

With my father
I would watch dawn
over green fields.

Not knowing
it's a tub they're in
the fish cooling at the gate.

Asked how old he was,
the boy in the new kimono
stretched out all five fingers.

What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.

That pretty girl--
munching and rustling
the wrapped-up rice cake.

These sea slugs,
they just don't seem

A huge frog and I,
staring at each other,
neither of us moves.

Children imitating cormorants
are even more wonderful
than cormorants.

Under my house
an inchworm
measuring the joists.

Blossoms at night,
and the faces of people
moved by music.

The snow is melting
and the village is flooded
with children.


through a telescope:
ten cents worth of fog.

No doubt about it,
the mountain cuckoo
is a crybaby.

Even on the smallest islands,
they are tilling the fields,
skylarks singing.

Windy fall

At my daughter's grave, thirty days
after her death:

        Windy fall--
        these are the scarlet flowers
        she liked to pick.

It once happened
that a child was spared punishment
through earnest solicitation.

Hey, sparrow!
out of the way,
    Horse is coming.

Last time, I think,
I'll brush the flies
from my father's face.

In the thicket's shade
a woman by herself
singing the rice-planting song.

Ducks bobbing on the water--
are they also, tonight,
hoping to get lucky?

Under the image of Buddha
all these spring flowers
seem a little tiresome.

Even with insects--
some can sing,
some can't.

Not very anxious
to bloom,
my plum tree.

In these latter-day,
Degenerate times,
   Cherry-blossoms everywhere!

New Year's Day--
everything is in blossom!
I feel about average.

Having slept, the cat gets up,
yawns, goes out
to make love.

I'm going out,
flies, so relax,
make love.

Approaching my village:

        Don't know about the people,
        but all the scarecrows
        are crooked.

How much

How much
are you enjoying yourself,
tiger moth?

Visiting the graves,
the old dog
leads the way.

— The End —