shan-shan to mushi mo hata orite hoshi mukae
chirr-chirr! insects also
work their looms...
stars of Tanabata
by Issa, 1818
The Tanabata Festival takes place on the seventh day of Seventh Month. According to a romantic legend, two celestial lovers--the stars Altair and Vega--are separated by Heaven's River (the Milky Way). One night a year (Tanabata night), they cross the starry river to be together. Vega is the "Weaver Star," working diligently at her loom. Lewis Mackenzie translates the opening phrase onomatopoetically: "clap! clap!" See The Autumn Wind: A Selection from the Poems of Issa (London: John Murray, 1957; rpt. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1984) 67. Since shan to can denote a ringing sound as well as a clapping sound, the first seems more fitting in this case; Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 827. Shinji Ogawa translates the phrase, hoshi mukae, "welcome to Tanabata stars."