Entry: SPRING RAIN Sunday, April 22, 2007


A verse by Sh˘ha:

Spring rain;
The dripping of the willow,
The plum petals.

This verse expresses the nature of spring -- the rain that falls in drops from the willow tree, the petals that fall from the plum tree.  In this verse, everything is in motion, everything is changing, everything is transient.

Something is required of the reader in the last line, however,  the realization that the petals of the plum are falling like the drops from the willow.  That is why "petals" is used here rather than "blossoms," which would tell us that the blossoms are still firmly on the branches.  In the original the word used actually was "dust," referring to the fallen and falling petals rather than the blossoms, but "petals" conveys the meaning to the perceptive reader.  If we wanted to expand it for clarity, it would become

Spring rain;
The dripping of the willow,
The falling of plum petals.

If we were to follow the originally even more closely, it would read:

Spring rain;
The drops of the willow,
The petals of the plum.

Or we could say:

Spring rain;
Drops from the willow,
Petals from the plum.

That translation conveys Sh˘ha's meaning very well, but note that good punctuation is essential to understanding it.  Someone who writes haiku, with its lack of care in punctuation, might think mistakenly that the meaning of the first two lines is:

Spring rain drops from the willow

But that is not it, and that is why careful attention to punctuation in both writing and reading hokku is so important.

Copyright 2007


April 22, 2007   11:42 AM PDT
You have bought up at least two very good points David. Translations are only as good as the translators and some translate for their own purposes which does not help in knowing the true meaning. Also punctuation is most important. It is a shame that those writing today "modern" haiku and hokku have been stripped of punctuation.
Thank you also for adding this feature and thank you for all the work that you do.

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