Yo ni furu mo (Life in this World), haiku poem and commentary Matsuo Basho Tenna 1-Jokyo 1 (1681-4)
Yo ni furu mo (Life in this World), haiku poem and commentary
Tenna 1-Jokyo 1 (1681-4)
yo ni furu mo / sara ni Sogi no / yadori kana
life in this world / just like a temporary shelter / of Sogi’s*
The haiku poem featured on this scroll is an homage to a poem composed by Sogi, a Japanese renga poet of the 15th century: yo ni furu mo / sara ni shigure no / yadori kana (life in this world / just like a temporary shelter / from a winter shower).
In Sogi’s haiku, “life in this world” is characterized as a fleeting shelter from a cold winter shower, emphasizing the brevity of human life. In his haiku, Basho replaces the word shigure (winter shower) with Sogi’s name, suggesting that he will embrace Sogi’s spirit as he embarks upon his own journey.
In the commentary that appears before this poem, Basho alludes to the travels of the 8th-century Chinese poet Du Fu and the 11th-century Chinese poet Su Dongpo, and writes of being inspired by the 12th-century Japanese poet Saigyo Hoshi to make his own straw travelling hat, showing his respect for his famous predecessors who found inspiration for their literature in their own journeys.
*translation: Makoto Ueda