H  A  I  K  U     S  P  I  R  I  T
Natsume Soseki

Autumn wind colouring the leaves ~
is it this wind that put on my head
my first grey hair?

On the wings of wind
light and faraway
the swallow

Pagoda looming up
and higher
dead leaves raised by the wind

Winter mountain ~
even if there were a walker
no one could see him

Four bare walls ~
only a lamp
to bring comfort in this icy room

Wintry weather ~
the mountain rings with the blade
cutting bamboos

At the tip of my brush
a drop of water

During meditation
struck the gong lets out
a sleepy mosquito

A house
silently uncovers
the secret of snow

Sky and earth
merging ~
first mist

Spring estuary ~
a temple's bell-tower

A firefly
silently goes through the lounge ~
green moon

Wintry gales
pushing the setting sun
into the sea

blunt is the blade
cutting through the rice-stone ~
blunt is this year

I would like to be born again
if possible
small as a violet

Solitary moon
left to the night ~
who's watching you?

End of the year ~
the cat stays
curled up on my lap

Through the night train window
white spots ~
plum blossoms?

Plum early blossom
I gave it a name ~
snow petals

In the dark room
catching the silence
a cricket sings

Could science be an art ~
the art of making

Right near my brush
a red dragonfly has settled ~
which soul is it with?

On my own thinking of nothing
already gone
this year's first three days

The dragonfly's dream
on the blade

I am alive
I raise my eyes very high
where a red dragonfly is flying

Men live
men die
wild geese come past

The red dragonfly
has settled on my shoulder
casually and intimately

Ask the wind
which leaf is to fall

four five leaves
it is winter soon

Cold morning
my bones are alive
I don't move

Spring shower
huddled against each other
one umbrella for two

In the bath steam
showing up
two shaved skulls

Translation: Gilles Fabre

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