Biography of Kobayashi Issa
Kobayashi Nobuyki (Issa) was born in Kashiwabara, Shinano province, to a farming family and began writing in his childhood, which was marred by misfortune and sadness, his mother died and his father remarried resulting in torment at the hands of his step mother and step brother.
In 1777 he was despatched to Tokyo to study the Haiku form under such masters as Sogan and Chikua. He was forced to support himself by taking menial jobs before gaining entry into the Kasushika poetry school. At the age of 28 he was to be given a teaching post at the school but lasted just a year after it became clear that his modern style of haiku did not suit the clerical confines that were expected of him.
For the next two years Kabayashi wandered the provinces of Japan where he found a patron in the form of Seibi Natsume, during this period he took the pen name (Issa). upon his return to Tokyo he was to publish his first collection Tabishui 1795 Issa was to visit most of the prominent Japanese cities of the day over the next few years, publishing the following collections to recount his travels.
Chichi No Shuen Nikki 1801
Waga Harushu 1811.
In 1812 he returned to his native Kashiwabara and was to resume the feud with his Step family who had dishonoured his father's will. He also married at this time but again misfortune struck with his four children dying in infancy, and his wife later in 1823.
During this period he gained his reputation as the leader of the Haiku form in the shinano province, with his style being open and natural his verse was read by many as being relevant to everyday life. Three collections were published during this period:
Oragaharu 1819 tr: The year of my life.
Kuban Nikki 1822.
Kobayashi was to marry again and was blessed with a daughter born just after his death in 1827. He was seen as a re-juvinating influence on the Haiku form and has left a legacy of over 20,000 haikus, describing nature, life in everyday terms and sympathetic vunerability.
his collections are translated and sold to this day.
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Kobayashi Issa Poems
Don'T Worry, Spiders
Don't worry, spiders, I keep house casually.
Having Slept, The Cat Gets Up
Having slept, the cat gets up, yawns, goes out to make love.
In Spring Rain
In spring rain a pretty girl yawning.
In This World
In this world we walk on the roof of hell, gazing at flowers.
All The Time I Pray To Buddha
All the time I pray to Buddha I keep on killing mosquitoes.
How much are you enjying yourself, tiger moth?
A Bath When You'Re Born
His death poem: A bath when you're born, a bath when you die,
Writing Shit About New Snow
Writing shit about new snow for the rich is not art.
A Huge Frog And I
A huge frog and I, staring at each other, neither of us moves.
New Year's Day
New Year's Day-- everything is in blossom! I feel about average.
Even With Insects
Even with insects-- some can sing, some can't.
In These Latter-Day
In these latter-day, Degenerate times, Cherry-blossoms everywhere!
Even On The Smallest Islands
Even on the smallest islands, they are tilling the fields, skylarks singing.
Asked How Old He Was
Asked how old he was, the boy in the new kimono stretched out all five fingers.
Pissing In The Snow
Pissing in the snow
outside my door--
it makes a very straight hole.
Translated by Robert Hass