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Sunday, March 05, 2006

look like too

Issa Original
日ぐらしや我影法師のあみだ笠
higurashi ya waga kageboshi no amida-gasa

David’s English
cicada chirrs--
my shadow's umbrella-hat
makes a halo!

David’s Comment
The higurashi is a type of cicada. The name, as Shinji Ogawa points out, means "evening cicada." One dictionary calls it, a "clear toned cicada." Shinji explains, "An evening cicada sings in rich modulation in a sing-song way." While ordinary cicadas are associated with summer, higurashi is an autumn season word in haiku, "based on the elegant tones."

Literally, Issa sees in his own shadow an "Amida umbrella-hat" (amida-gasa), an old expression that denotes a halo; see Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 70. Amida is the Buddha to which Pure Land devotees such as Issa faithfully depend for rebirth in the Western Paradise. The poet is delighted to see in his shadow the blessing of an unexpected halo. The poetic leap from cicada song to haloed shadow is one of Issa's most delightful.

sakuo’s Rennku
我又近し阿弥陀仏
ware mata tika shi amida-butsu

I look like too
Amida-Buddha

1 comment:

Alan Summers said...

I really like your site, the images are brilliant, and I also like the English translations very much.

Do you know about the Suma Temple cicadas?

samurai legends —
tsuku-tsuku-bôshi cicadas
make it inbetween