Kobayashi Issa 小林 一茶

Japanese poet 1763 - 1828

on the front porch


Ora ga yo ya

Sokora no kusa mo

Mochi ni naru


This world of ours!

Even the grasses over there

Give us our gruel.


~ Issa


Issa explained, "It is for courtiers and the like to mourn the waning of the moon and to sing the praises of blossoms."


On the front porch of the winery, Colin, who embraced what Professor Eliot spent so many hours sharing with us (on Chinese and Japanese poetry), is now doing the sharing. We did not study Issa. Colin is beginning to read him.


This is a rough recounting of last night's conversation, written this morning.


Without Issa's explanation we would be hard pressed to understand his, Issa's, meaning. With the explanation it becomes clearer. Colin suggests that in the world of eighteenth century Japan, in which rank in the court was equated with finer sensibilities, flowery poetry was the norm. Issa's poem suggests such finery as the lamenting of the waning moon and the praises of blossoms may be left to those who could afford to luxuriate in such idleness. Issa, who toiled the soil mightily and miserably as a child, and never found wealth in his lifetime, speaks for the toiler. Waning moons and pretty flowers are well and good. They are not edible. 


I owe so much to Professor Eliot. Through his class I met Colin and Marcy, they are my shining moon and my pretty blossoms, and they are my humble gruel. If that makes sense. 


Marketa is smiling as I read this last line. When she smiles, and when I think of Colin and Marcy, I am momentarily overcome with optimism.


The world is ours! 





Poetry by one trick pony The PoetBay support member heart!
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Written on 2017-08-17 at 17:23

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Rob Graber
Most enlightening! I always assumed Issa WAS a courtier or nobleman.