Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Poetic Musings: Cats in Love Haiku by Basho

Japanese Original:

neko no koi   yamu toki neya no   oboro zuki

English Translation

cats in love
when they stop in my bedroom
a hazy moon

On Love and Barley: Haiku of Basho, 1985


Commentary: On the surface, there is nothing much going on in Basho's haiku: cats in love/when they stop in my bedroom/ a hazy moon (in the bedroom window). However, if one reads a complete stop at the middle of L2, "stop," then his haiku consists of two emotionally contrasting scenes: cats in love when they stop/in my bedroom  (window) a hazy moon. This reading is tonally and psychologically different from the initial reading. This kind of ambiguity effectively adds layers of meaning and depth to the haiku. 

And it might be interesting to do a thematic comparative reading of Basho's another (moody) cats haiku, which could be read as a prequel:

with my cat
the stray cat does it,
crying pitifully

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