Harusame ya / Spring rain

harusame ya

Ranko (student of Basho, fl. 17th c.)

Harusame ya yane no ogusa ni hana sakinu

Spring rain:
flowers opening
on the thatched roof.

*

Taniguchi Buson (1715-1783)

Harusame ya kawazu no hara no mada nurezu

Spring rain:
not enough yet to moisten
the frog’s belly.

*

Harusame ya monogatari yuku mino to kasa

Spring rain:
a patter of gossip
from raincoat & umbrella.

*

Harusame ya dôsha no kimi no sasamegoto

Spring rain:
my lover’s low whisper
in a shared carriage.

*

Harusame ni nuretsutsu yane no temari kana

Spring rain:
a rag ball on the roof
is getting soaked.

*

Kobayashi Issa (1762-1826)

Harusame ya ai ni aioi no matsu no koe

Spring rain:
the voices of a pair of pines
growing side by side.

*

Harusame ya yabu ni fukaruru sute tegami

Spring rain:
a discarded letter blows
into the bushes.

*

Harusame ya uo oi-nogasu ura no inu

Spring rain:
a dog on the shore
chases the fish.

*

Harusame ya na wo tsumi ni yuku ko andon

Spring rain:
going out with a small lantern
to pick vegetables.

*

Harusame ya kuware-nokori no kamo ga naku

Spring rain:
the lusty quacking of ducks
that haven’t been eaten.

*

Harusame ni ôakubi suru bijin kana

Spring rain:
a pretty woman
yawns.

*

Harusame ya imo ga tamoto ni zeni no oto

Spring rain:
in my wife’s sleeve,
the sound of coins.

*

Harusame ya neko ni odori oshieru ko

Spring rain:
a child is teaching the cat
how to dance.

*

Harusame ya hara wo herashi ni yu ni tsukaru

Spring rain:
I draw a hot bath
to settle my stomach.

***

Translated with the help of a dictionary and some imagination.

15 Comments


  1. I like these a lot. This one was my hands-down favorite:

    Spring rain:
    a pretty woman
    yawns.

    Reply

    1. Thanks. Not too many ways to translate this, so my translation bears a strong resemblance to Robert Hass’:

      Spring rain:
      a pretty girl
      yawns.

      Though a more accurate match with the Japanese would give us:

      In spring rain
      making a big yawn,
      beautiful woman.

      If you can think of a good way to work “big” into my (and Hass’) version, let me know.

      Reply

  2. And this one, my favourite…

    Spring rain:
    a child is teaching the cat
    how to dance.

    … though I greatly liked and recognised the idea of going out with a small lantern to pick vegetables because a while back I ventured out with a torch to pick lovage for the salad bowl.

    Reply

    1. Those were probably my favorites, too. Issa’s downhome imagery is the best.

      Reply

  3. Oh wow. What a beautiful gift to find on this morning of spring rain in London. thank you. I will come back later and savour these.

    Reply

  4. Nice! The one about the ducks that haven’t been eaten cracked me up. The patter of rain on umbrella, the pair of pines, the pretty woman yawning. All lovely.

    Reply

    1. Thanks. I may have gotten a bit too wordy with the ducks haiku, but “lusty” was definitely implied. They are the ones who made it through the winter.

      Issa wrote at least one other “spring rain” haiku with ducks in it, another with pines, and two others with yawning in them. These are obviously images that really appealed to him.

      Reply

  5. These were terrific. I liked the ducks, the lantern, and the one about the carriage which struck me as unusually romantic!

    Reply

    1. Thanks. Yeah, that one might not have been autobiographical, but in the assumed voice of a courtier. A little high-class for a haiku, to be sure.

      Reply

  6. I am so glad you collected all of these. I love them all. Gives me an idea for a poem cycle, repeating the same first line in every stanza. There’s a name for that, isn’t there?

    Reply

    1. I think so, but I don’t remember what it is.

      I’ve done several series of original haiku in which all began with the same first line, so my selection this time was guided by the desire to repeat that effect. I excluded, for example, haiku that ended with “spring rain” (haru no ame in that case), as a number of Issa’s do.

      Reply

  7. These are lovely; because I loved them so much, I took some liberties with them in a post on my blog, here: Spring rain. Hope you don’t mind.

    Reply

    1. Mind? They’re beautiful! (And they are exactly the kind of thing I was hoping to encourage when I switched from a regular copyright to a copyleft license last year.)

      Reply

  8. So glad you enjoyed them; I am relatively new to your blog, but I am experiencing no shortage of enjoyment following your literary exploits!

    Have a wonderful, poemful weekend, Dave.

    Reply

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