April 24, 2009
Another haiku from Basho's journey book.
The English translation:
In Kisakaa's rain,
Mimosas droop, like fair Hsi-shin
who languished with love's pain
(translated by Dorothy Britton)
Present day Kisakata is no longer what it used to be, land development has ruined the fine scenery. The scene with mimosa flowers blooming there reminded Basho of a Chinese beauty, Hsi-shih.
Japan, for a long time, looked to China for cultural inspiration (after Tokugawa Period, we looked to the Europe, and after the WW2 to USA). To understand Basho and the likes, one needs to have knowledge of Chinese culture and literature. My favorite haijin, Buson, too, learned paintings from Chinese traditions.