Saturday, May 31, 2008

in a cloudbrust

小林 一茶 1819
yu^dachi ya juka sekijo^ no ko yakunin

David‘s English
in a cloudburst
under a tree, looking miserable
a minor official
Shinji Ogawa explains that the phrase, juka sekijo^, which literally means to sleep or dwell under a tree and on a rock, figuratively denotes "being a monk practicing austerities." Here, he says, Issa uses the phrase to mean "poor," or "petty." It seems to me, however, that the minor official is literally standing under a tree to avoid the rain, a visual image that provides Issa with this opportunity for word-play. My dilemma as a translator, then, is to decide whether I should: (1) mention the literal level of being under a tree and on a rock but lose the figurative meaning of practicing austerities; or (2) translate the figurative meaning (Shinji suggests the middle phrase, "how miserable") but lose the literal image of the official crouching under a tree. My compromise: I keep the tree but lose the rock, adding Shinji's "miserable."
To visit

Sakuo renku 
濡れずに済みて 仏の顔に
nirezu ni sumi te hotoke no kao ni

without getting wet
becomes Buddha face


Pris said...

Sakuo san
It was so interesting to read your thought processes in translating the haiku for this haiga. Thank you for sharing that in so much detail. I love the image you use with this. What talent you have!

Unknown said...

Thank you Pris san for your kind words that encourage me much.
It is very interst to find a person who has real eyes to watch real things.
Issa would be very thankful for your great understanding.