It snowed last night, several inches, which is unusual in southern Kansas. Snow, snow, snow, let it snow, we used to say as kids, hoping that school would be cancelled, which is what happened today, February, o2, 2022.
Or 2/2/22, a palindrome date.Bashō no yōna, February 2, 2022
Looky, looky, looky
Yuki, yuki, yuki
We’re playing hooky
Note. Hooky, skipping school without permission. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn often played hooky.
Basho on Snow and Winter
From the book Oi no kobumi, Winter 1687-8:
いざ行かむ 雪見にころぶ 所までMatsuo Basho, Oi no kobumi, Winter 1687-8
Iza yukan / yukimi ni korobu / tokoro made
Let’s go out
And see the snow
Until we slip and fall.
A child grow up and the snow is not his friend. Still, snow on Mt. Fuji is a thing of beauty.
冬の日や馬上に氷る影法師Matsuo Basho, Oi no kobumi, early Winter 1687-8
fuyu no hi ya / bashō ni kōru / kagebōshi
A winter’s day
me and my shadow
frozen on horseback
hito one wa / shigururu kumo ka / Fuji no yuki
over the ridge
is there’s snow on Mount Fuji?
Oi no kobumi
In English, Notes from my Knapsack, or Backpack Notes, 笈の小文, October 25, 1687 to June 1688. Matsuo Basho was 44 when he began this round-Robin trip, reciting verse, from Edo to Iga, then Nagoya, to the grand Ise shrine, and from Nara to Otsu, and home again. Like a child going to school he carried a knapsack, oi 笈, usually made of bamboo.
Snow on Mt. Fuji
There are many translations of Matsuo Basho’s haiku. Not surprisingly they do not all agree. Many a slip twixt the cup and the lip, said Robert Burns. In our case, between pen, the word, and the ear.
In the last haiku, being away form Edo, I suspect Matsuo was wondering if the snow had yet appeared at Mt. Fuji. In late fall, snow flurries make their first appearance at Mount Fuji. And, typically, Fuji is snow-capped five months out of the year. Traveling by horse over the hills in a winter storm, wondering is there snow on Mt. Fuji. This question arises because the character か, ka appears prior to snow on Mt. Fuji (shigururu kumo ka / Fuji no yuki).