Amid the heat,
He carries a load of wind —
The fan seller.

The arrangement of that summer hokku by Kakō is necessarily different in English.  The original is literally

Wind load carries heat ya fan-seller

But let’s look at the English structure:

Amid the heat,
He carries a load of wind —
The fan seller.

A setting in hokku is generally the BIG part of it, the wider context in which something takes place — often, but certainly not always, the weather.  Here the setting is:

Amid the heat

The subject is obviously the fan seller, but in this verse we find the very common and useful technique of “repeated subject,” where the subject is referred to once by a pronoun (he, she, it), an then again by its actual name or title.  So we see

HE carries a load of wind —

Both “he” and “the fan seller” are the same subject.  This hokku technique is endlessly useful, because it fits the syntax of English very well.

And finally we have the action, that which is moving or changing in the verse.   What is the fan seller doing?  The answer is the action:

(He) carries a load of wind.

So this verse has setting, subject, and action, and is consequently what we call a “standard” hokku.  There are countless examples of this pattern, many of them excellent verses.  But keep in mind, if you are a new reader here, that this is not the only pattern.  If you visit this site regularly, you will learn more of them, and can then apply them to your own practice of hokku.

This verse has both the sensation (the heat and the anticipation of coolness) and the subtle humor characteristic of hokku as a whole.  Remember that the humor of hokku is very slight and sometimes almost imperceptible.  It is not at all the “milk-spouting-from-the-nose” kind of humor we think of in today’s society.  It is more like the smile on the Mona Lisa — sometimes it seems to be there, and sometimes….


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