You are the butterfly while
I pursue the dreams
You are the butterfly and
I the dreaming heart
kimi ya cho ware ya Sooji ga yumegokoro
Seeing a butterfly flutter from flower to flower, the young disciple asks, “Does the butterfly worry? Does he dream of tomorrow?”
Master Basho replies, “You are the butterfly while I pursue the dreams of Chuang-tzu.”
や ya, cutting word
蝶 kimi, butterfly
君 や 蝶, kimi ya chō, you and the butterfly
莊子 Zhuāngzi, Chung-tzu
夢心 yumeshin, dreaming heart, mind
Basho’s haiku is based on an episode from the life of Chinese philosopher Chuang-tzu (c.369BC – c.286BC):
“Am I a Man?” he thought,
“dreaming I am a butterfly?
Or a butterfly, dreaming I am a man?