WHAT JOY!

A summer hokku by Buson — one of his best because of its sensory nature:

Natsu kawa wo kosu ureshisa yo te ni zōri
夏          河     を   越すうれしさよ 手 に  草履
Summer river wo cross joy yo hand in sandals

What joy!
Crossing the summer river,
Sandals in hand.

This simple verse is just a cry of happiness at the pleasant sensory experience of crossing a river barefoot in summer, with the feeling of the cooling water on the legs, and the sun shining brightly.

It is an expression of the use of contrast so common in summer hokku, with the contraries of heat and coolness — the Yang of the summer sun and heat, and the Yin of the coolness of the river water.  We call this kind of thing “harmony of contrast,” because even though it uses opposites, there is still a sense of harmony in their combination.

 

David

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