Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

Again and again

I ask how high

the snow is

Masaoka Shiki

From the 1896 section on Kanzan Rakuboku (Cold Mountain, Bare Trees), a hand-written manuscript left by Masaoka Shiki. One of four haiku entitled “Snow White Sick.” ”Snow’s falling !/ I see it through a hole/in the shutter” (yuki furu yo/shōji no ana wo/ mite areba) is also good, but the one given here is, after all, the best. In 1896, Shiki’s back pain, due to tuberculosis of the spine, was so severe that he was almost unable to get out of bed. A heavy snow was falling outside. the first in a long time, and while imagining what it looked like, Shiki asked his moher and young sister, who looked after him, how high it was again and again. The compressed syntax of haiku is able to express the invalid’s excitement, imagination and longing with inexpressible depth.

 

いくIkuたびtabimo
yukino深さfukasawo
尋ねけりtazunekeri

正岡子規(まさおか しき)

子規自筆稿本『寒山落木』巻五(明治二十九年の巻)所収。「病中雪」と前書きある四句の一つ。この年、子規は腰痛でほとんど病床を離れ得ぬほどの重症だった。同時作に「雪ふるよ障子の穴を見てあれば」があるが、何といっても掲出句が出色。珍しいほどの大雪が降ったという戸外の景色を思いえがきつつ、何度も看護の母や妹に積雪の状態をたずねたのだ。俳句の省略された語法が、病人の心躍り、空想、あこがれを表現し得て、言うに言われず深い。