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Friday, November 29, 2013

Issa haiku

after the fire--
the fleas throw a wild

Issa - 1827

yake ato ya hokari-hokari to nomi sawagu

This haiku is a slight revision of a haiku that begins with the phrase, "on burnt ground" (yake tsuchi ni). The original poem has the prescript: "Living in the grain barn." On the first day of the Sixth Intercalary Month of 1827, a big fire swept through Issa's village, destroying his house. He and his third wife were forced to move into the grain barn, where he died later that year. The fleas hop with wild abandon through the charred remnants. Ogawa suggests that hokari-hokari is a lengthened form of hoka-hoka, which, in this context, means "warmly and joyfully." Hoka-hoka can also signify "completing a sudden action boldly or reassuringly" or "to act without discretion"; Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 1481.

- David Gerard

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