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.



正岡子規(まさおか しき)