While winter drizzles
kasa mo naki ware o shigururu ka ko wa nanto
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
時雨 winter drizzle
かこ the past, try not to dwell on the past
何と whatever, what, when