At a renga party. One hundred verses, the last haiku. How do get rid of the last annoying guest? With sleepy eyes, your host appears, your hat and summer coat in hand.
time to say farewell —Matsuo Basho, Fukagawa, Summer 1684
your hat and summer coat
wakareba ya kasa te ni sagete natsu-haori
I have invented a renga party as the occasion for the farewell and this haiku.
By the summer of 1684, Matsuo Basho was living in Fukagawa in the Basho-an (his simple cottage shaded by a banana, a.k.a, basho, tree), adored by his students and disciples. Basho’s mother had died the year before. He was restless.
As summer became autumn, it was time to go home, to say goodbye.
Notes on Translation
Renga (連歌, linked haiku), usually of 36 or even 100 verses. Wow! That’s long.
Those crazy Japanese poets!
One person writes the first hokku (haiku), identifying a single subject (i.e cherry blossoms, the autumn moon, goodbyes and farewells), each person adding to the chain, but delivering a creative twist. Now, the party has gone on too long, too late. The guests have drunk too much and most have left. Saki cups and paper haiku litter the floor.
Wakareba (別れ端や) I get it, I understand, after some difficulty. Farewell!
Kasa (笠) hat. Haori (はおり), a thigh-length jacket with short sleeves, generally used for cold evenings. Basho describes it as a summer (natsu, 夏) garment, suggesting that the season is changing.
Fukagawa. By the age of 36, Matsuo Basho had achieved some success in Edo, the capital of Japan. He had refined the haiku as an art form, and the renga as a convivial setting for its connected verse. He had a group of devoted students and disciples who referred to him as Tosei, the unripe peach. Matsuo wanted more, and departed Edo in 1680 for the more rural Fukagawa district, where, beside his small cottage, he planted a banana tree (basho), saying farewell to Tosei, eventually becoming Basho.