winter’s end haiku by Issa…

Issa winter's end haiku with incidental cat

on the eaves
firewood and a cat…
snow is melting


kobisashi ni maki to neko to yukige kana

Issa 1818

I find this one a bit funny – maybe it’s clear in the Japanese but does it mean the cat and the firewood are on the eaves with the melting snow? I didn’t think so as you can see from my accompanying doodle.
I decided to call it “winter’s end” but I suppose it could just as easily be a temporary thaw… I guess I’m just hoping!
A nice piece of trivia (well that ties in nicely with my blog name) is that this master haiku writer’s pen name, Issa means “a cup of tea”!
If you like the idea of reading more of his over 9500 haikus check this site. You can read random selections or pick something based on a season… or cats!

image (cc) 2010 Hilary Farmer


6 thoughts on “winter’s end haiku by Issa…

  1. I think the trick of translating haiku is to imagine the scene and use the same juxtaposition of elements in the new language, whereas my sense of the translations on the Issa site is that they are more focused on a literal representation of the original words, rather than the image behind them.

    My take on this poem would be:

    Cat in the woodpile
    Watches winter snow melting
    Drips run off the eaves


    Drips fall from the eves
    onto firewood where a cat
    hides from snow melting

    It seems to me the cat and firewood belong together, as a woodpile is where a cat is likely to lurk.

    I like the bamboo in this image, and the way the colours of wood and stone and snow complement each other.

    1. Yes, I thought that the cat and fire wood belonged together too! thanks for the alternate haikus. I think I like the first one best. I feel somehow that the cat is cold and wet in the second one!
      Thank you!

      1. I see the cat in the second one as lurking in the woodpile, hiding from the dangerous drips! I would never write a poem that’s cruel to kitties 😀

    1. Oh, definitely! The whole purpose of a woodpile is to dry the wood for burning, so either you cover it with plywood or planks, or you lay a top layer of long logs on it that act as a covering. That, plus the irregularities of the stacked logs, provide ample cover for cats (and other small fury creatures that cats are wont to hunt!)

      I spent a ridiculous proportion of my childhood splitting and stacking wood, so it is a subject on which I’m well versed! And I know our cat favoured the woodpiles as a place to hang out in the rain, and catch the odd mouse.

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