Sunday, June 16, 2013

Issa - Poetry

For the rest of this series, click on the 'poetry' link at the bottom.

A couple of weeks ago I wondered if there are any haiku that are famous in Western culture.  I still don't know the answer to that, but this one by Kobyashi Issa is at least memorable.

Look, don't kill that fly!
It is making a prayer to you,
By rubbing its hands and feet.

Nice.  Everyone is familiar with the way that flies rub their front legs together and yes, that does approximate prayer.  A hyper prayer possibly, but the similarity is clear.  At the same time, the urge to kill a fly is probably universal, so the poem presents a tension.  Should I go on killing these annoying things?  Or do I believe that it is somehow honoring me and I should spare it?
This haiku deserves to be well known.

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