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.