Tanabata Night by David Lanoue


Tanabata Night by David Lanoue

tanabata ya suzushiku ue ni yu ni tsukaru

Tanabata Night is cool,
and to top it off
soaking in a hot tub

This haiku has the prescript, "Rice Field." The hot tub is outside, under the stars. Issa used this as the opening verse (hokku) of a linked verse series (renku) written with his friends Kijô and Kishû, with whom he was staying after his house burned down. In his translation, Makoto Ueda reads ue ni as "then": establishing a sequential relationship between feeling the cool air and, after that, bathing. I read it as meaning "better than"; I think Issa is saying, "It's pleasantly cool this Tanabata Night, and even better than that, I'm soaking in this nice hot tub"; Dew on the Grass: The Life and Poetry of Kobayashi Issa (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2004) 163. Tanabata Festival takes place on the seventh day of Seventh Month. According to a romantic legend, two celestial lovers--the stars Altair and Vega--are separated by Heaven's River (the Milky Way). One night a year (Tanabata night), they cross the starry river to be together.

Visit David Lanoue's website: http://haikuguy.com/issa/


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