.朧々ふめば水也まよひ道oboro-oboro fumeba mizu nari mayoi michi
in hazy night
stepping into water...
losing my wayIssaDavid G. Lanoue
The season word in this haiku, oboro, refers succinctly to a hazy night of spring. In this uncertain, dreamlike light, Issa steps off a path into water. Hiroshi Kobori notes that the poet's state of mind is like the misty night. He feels insecure and bewildered, aware of the uncertainty of his own future.
According to Lewis Mackenzie, this haiku alludes to the death of one of Issa's friends, a Buddhist priest. On a journey, Issa went to visit him only to find that he had been dead for several years. Mackenzie translates the last phrase, "Ways of delusion!" See The Autumn Wind: A Selection from the Poems of Issa (London: John Murray, 1957; rpt. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1984), 30. In Saigoku kikô ("Western Provinces Travel Diary") there is an explanatory prescript of which Shinji Ogawa offers this paraphrase: After hearing of his priest friend Sarai's death, Issa begged his replacement for a night's stay at the temple but was refused. Counting on Sarai, he had come over 300 ri (732 miles), "without a soul to lean on, going over the fields and the yards..." See Issa zenshû (Nagano: Shinano Mainichi Shimbunsha, 1976-79) 5.36.
Makoto Ueda reports that Issa found a place to stay that night "just one hundred feet away"; Dew on the Grass: The Life and Poetry of Kobayashi Issa (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2004) 33.
Debi Bender likes the repetition and alliteration in the opening phrase (oboro-oboro). To preserve this subtle music, she suggests this translation:
misty, misty moon
stepping into water
losing my wayIssa, Debi Bender
THE BROKEN SANDAL
Dreamed the thong of my sandal broke.
Nothing to hold it to my foot.
How shall I walk?
The sharp stones, the dirt. I would
Where was I going?
Where was I going I can't
go to now, unless hurting?
Where am I standing, if I'm
to stand still now?Denise Levertov
Labels: buhot, David G. Lanoue, debi bender, denise levertov, diagonals, e t hurley, haiku, Hans Schließmann, issa, margaret bourke-white, poetry, tavik františek šimon, tupke-grande, willem witsen