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Saturday, February 04, 2017

Issa Haiku

tucking in
the blind priest...
winter rain

Issa - 1814
zato no bônaka ni tsutsunde shigure keri
Issa implies that the blind priest is a beggar, and his "house" (bônaka) is the street. Literally, bônaka can be the inside of a temple, but it can also signify the streets. Shinji Ogawa notes that naka ni tsutsunde means "holding or hugging, inside." He adds, "Though the phrase is used as a gentle expression, the haiku is one of harsh reality." The poem has one of Issa's most dramatic surprise endings. One expects a cozy, warm quilt to be the final image, going along with "tucking in," but instead he gives us winter rain, and, as Shinji puts it, "harsh reality."

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