Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa, also known as Kobayashi Yataro and Kobayashi Nobuyuki, was born in Kashiwabara, Shinanao province. He eventually took the pen name Issa, which means “cup of tea” or, according to poet Robert Hass, “a single bubble in steeping tea.”
Issa’s father was a farmer. His mother died when he was young, and he was raised by his grandmother. His father remarried, and Issa did not get along well with his stepmother or stepbrother, eventually becoming involved in disputes over his father’s property. When Issa was 14, he left home to study haiku in Edo. He spent years traveling and working until returning to Kashiwabara in the early 1810s. In Kashiwabara, his life was marked by sorrow— the death of his first wife and three children, an unsuccessful second marriage, the burning down of his house, and a third marriage.
Issa’s haiku are as attentive to the small creatures of the world—mosquitoes, bats, cats—as they are tinged with sorrow and an awareness of the nuances of human behavior. In addition to haiku, Issa wrote pieces that intertwined prose and poetry, including Journal of My Father’s Last Days and The Year of My Life.”
The moon in August is sometimes called the Corn Moon or Cold Moon. Now this time of year when referring to the full moon, however, in Japan, they are referring to the autumn moon or harvest moon which I prefer to write about in September. I am really not ready to write that much about autumn…yet.
I remember travelling by car or by bus marveling at the full moon. It is sometimes on my left side and then my right side depending where I am driving and how many twists and curves I have taken. But when I am driving home alone late at night, somehow I don’t feel so alone. It is almost a sordid affair…like the man on the moon is keeping me company and only he and I exist until I get home.
I have chosen this poem by Issa for inspiration:
Under the evening moon
is stripped to the waist.
My humble attempt also having fun:
(c) clr 2017