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柴ふねの立枝も春や朝かすみ (shiba-fune no risshi mo haru ya asa-kasumi)

How spring-like the branches

Standing up in the firewood boat

In the morning mist

--Kiin

Probably my favorite haiku from when I was hot and heavy into the work of Blyth. The contrast of life and death caught in that ominous stillness--good stuff. But my Japanese is shit, so I was hoping that someone more fluent could possibly illuminate any discrepancies they noticed in the translation done by Blyth and/or what would be a more accurate translation of the poem.

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It seems fine to me. There's not much latitude to the translator; the imagery is quite concrete, and all the elements of the original are reflected pretty much directly in Blyth's version. A word-by-word rendering would be: Firewood boat's standing-branches [emphasis] / spring! / morning mist. One could perhaps read the も as "too" and say "the firewood, too, [is a part of/a sign of this season: the] spring!"; but that change seems inconsequential to the overall meaning anyway.

The only point in question for me is that I thought 立枝 was read tachi-e, not risshi; but I'm not sure of it either.

Incidentally, I didn't feel this poem as ominous or particularly death-related (as, say, Bashō's tsuwamonodomo). Just seems like an average haiku scene to me, with a cold spring morning and the mist and someone already hard at work shipping firewood.

sample picture of firewood boat

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