Kobayashi Issa, “Dew evaporates…”

triptych, left panel

Dew evaporates…
Kobayashi Issa (tr. Kenneth Yasuda)

On the death of his child

Dew evaporates
and all our world is dew…
so dear, so fresh, so fleeting


His child dead, the grief deepens and transforms. Dew evaporates; the nights and mornings laden with it also disappear. He has to confront the daylight, live in a world uncognizant of his loss, his child. As beautiful as the everyday can be, it is unforgiving and forgetful. It shows no concern for its own emerging, even though “all our world is dew.” There are things we must mourn, as life does not exist without them. The dew is at once his grief, his child, the whole world: so dear, so fresh, so fleeting. It is amazing Issa could think in the face of such loss, that he could articulate a most necessary thought.