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.

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

In spring rain
a pretty girl

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

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

That wren

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

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

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

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

His death poem:

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

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

Napped half the day;
no one
punished me!

The moon tonight--
I even miss
her grumbling.

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

The crow

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

With my father
I would watch dawn
over green fields.

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

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

These sea slugs,
they just don't seem

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

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

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

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.

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


through a telescope:
ten cents worth of fog.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not very anxious
to bloom,
my plum tree.

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

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

Approaching my village:

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

Visiting the graves,
the old dog
leads the way.

How much

How much
are you enjoying yourself,
tiger moth?

— The End —