a winter shower

A cloud trying to enwrap
The moonbeams, momentarily fails —
A winter shower.

Someone walks on icy patches,
Making lightning in the water.

The New Year’s hunter,
On his back a quiver
Adorned with ferns.

The northern gate is open
And the beginning of springtime.

Over a fan
That brushes away the horse dung,
A hazy breeze.

The tea master loves
Dandelion flowers on the roadside.

At home the young maiden
Reads an ancient romance
In a lovely pose.

Two decorated lanterns
Competing to reveal the depth of love.

Dewdrops and bush clover
Wrestling with each other
In a perfect match.

Even buckwheat noodles are green
At an inn in Shigaraki.

The moon at dawn —
A backgammon player begins
Another day of traveling.

On the way to buy safflower,
A cuckoo’s call.

To kill the leisurely hours
At the hiding place.
She makes a doll.

From a lady at the Empress’s court
Rice and other gifts have come.

A brushwood fence lies
In ruins, after the far-reaching
Tidal wave’s attack.

The fish, when slit open,
Reveals a Buddha it has eaten.

Of an old illustrious clan
The man is called Hanami Jiro
And commands high respect in the
district.

Six tan of farmland
Covered with violets and red clover.

Joyously
The skylark sings:
Chiri chiri…

At noonday, how drowsy
Is the horse’s face!

Here at Okazaki,
Yahagi Bridge extends
Endlessly onwards.

Noticing the headman’s pine,
He writes a poem and sends it of.

That abandoned child:
Has he grown old enough
To work in the woods?

The last day of the year, it is cold
And the sword has been sold.

Here comes a lover
Of the snow, wearing a rare
Wu-style hat.

For his muffler, Miss Takao
Tears off a sleeve of her kimono.

With this dearest one
He could drink up the whole barrel
And make it a coffin!

A Zen monk, his name known
With the falling petals of a poppy.

The crescent moon —
The eastern sky is dark.
And the sound of a bell.

On the autumn lake, faintly
Someone playing an old tune on the koto.

Instead of taking them home
To cook, he lets go
The cobies he has caught.

A serene voice praying to Buddha
Is heard through the bush.

The oil lamp is feebly burning,
Yet the man cannot stir himself up
To go and put out the light.

Not knowing what to do,
He pulls the sash of her nightwear.

The lovelorn soul
Flying into the shade of the blossoms
It has been pining for.

I wish I could do the same
On that day of the full moon.

 

 

 

The renku is a unique type of poem with multiple authorship. It normally consists of thirty-six, fifty, or one hundred verses (or stanzas) contributed by a team of poets.
In the case of ,,A Winter Shower,” five amateur poets joined Bashō in the making.
They were a rice dealer, Tsuboi Tokoku;
a lumber merchant, Katō Jūgo;
a textile retailer, Okada Yasui;
a physician, Yamamoto Kakei
and a man named Koike Shōhei.

Translated by
Makoto Ueda

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