Winter’s Drizzle

Without hat
While winter drizzles
Well, well

笠もなきわれを時雨るるかこは何と

kasa mo naki ware o shigururu ka ko wa nanto

Hiroshige-Atake-detail

Winter’s drizzle

In northern Japan, the winter drizzle 時雨 that continuously falls in late autumn and winter is a familiar sight. Here in the Midwest, in March, the rain falls to a steady beat. The farmers bless the coming of the rain, a sign of a good year to come.

Like a drifting cloud, Basho has no preconceived notion of where he’s supposed to be or go, or what he is supposed to wear.

What prompted Basho’s haiku?

This haiku is from Matsuo Basho’s book Weather-Beaten Journey (1685). The book opens with Basho’s quote of a Buddhist priest, “Traveling a thousand li, I bring no provisions, under the midnight moon, I enter the land of nothingness.”

Hat, no hat, winter’s drizzle, where am I to go, what am I to do?

Notes on translation

笠 bamboo hat
雨 rain
時雨 winter drizzle
るる continuously
かこ the past, try not to dwell on the past
何と whatever, what, when

 

winter rain no hat Utagawa Kuniyoshi
heavy rain no hat Utagawa Kuniyoshi, wikiart

 

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