3 Haiku by Kobayashi Issa

       Children imitating cormorants
are even more wonderful
       than cormorants.

       Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house
       casually.

       Mother I never knew,
every time I see the ocean,
       every time

These haiku are among my favorites by Issa. Robert Hass, author of The Essential Haiku: Versions of Bashō, Buson, & Issa, (HarperCollins, 1994) is an excellent editor and translator. Background material for each poet is so comprehensive, I’m walking and observing alongside them. Every precious moment and memory feels familiar, whether I’ve experienced them or not. It’s comforting to know not every haiku they wrote was great.

Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827) “. . . has been described as a Whitman or Neruda in miniature, probably because his poems teem with creaturely life. . . His main English translator, a Scot, compares him to Robert Burns. . . And in other ways Issa’s sensibility resembles that of Charles Dickens—the humor and pathos, the sense of a childhood wound, the willingness to be silly and downright funny, and the fierceness about injustice.”

Neotropic cormorants by Alan D. Wilson @ Nature’s Pics Online

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