H  A  I  K  U     S  P  I  R  I  T
Santoka Taneda


The path
straight ahead

I put on today's
straw sandals

Today again
soaken wet
walking on a strange path

I pick buttercups
I eat buttercups

No inn for the night
the moon
shows the way

I walk holding my begging bowl
up to where?

I taste

My meal

In the water
my reflection
as a pilgrim

In my begging bowl
the glaring whiteness
of rice

On my own
by mosquitos

I slap flies
I slap mosquitos
I slap myself

With a dragonfly
on my bamboo hat

On my tired feet
a dragonfly
has settled

From now on
I won't wear any watch
evening rain

Autumn rain
mountains more mountains
mountains I don't know

Just like this it rains
I am soaken wet
I walk

Soaken wet
the milestone
showing the way

I've just been given
something to eat
falling rain

This body
that has survived
I am scratching it

Far faraway
birds fly over
snowy mountains

My skull freshly shaved
really reflects
the sunlight

Now that I don't meet
mountain butterflies

In the mountain all day long
these ants too

Some days sometimes
I don't beg
and gaze at the mountains

Getting further
from these mountains
I'll never see again

Not one cloud
I take off
my bamboo hat

This cloud there
let the rain down
that soaked me

from my home village
budding trees

Someone speaks with a voice
like my father's
sad while travelling

At last some mail
from now on
ripe persimmons will fall

He brings me my mail
eats a persimmon
and then leaves

Everything may be happy
or sad
grass grows

Falling leaves
they also fall
in my begging bowl

Under the quilt
I sleep
dreaming of my home village

Now that no one comes anymore
have gone red

Picking up a flower
I don't know
I offer it to Buddha

Up to
the rows of graves
the waves break

I am still alive
I stretch my legs

In public baths
the discussion gets

Something's missing
a tooth fell out
I hurl it into the night

At the foot of the mountain
in the sun's heat
in line five or six graves

Heavy rain
the postman
comes from so far

my face
in the cold mirror?

Making fun of me
my figure seen from behind
going away
in the autumn rain?

Translation: Gilles Fabre

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