“River Willow” by Karai Senryū

Karai Senryū was born in 1718 in Edo. A town official and frequent judge of poetry contests, he was responsible for popularizing a lighter, more whimsical variation of haiku that now bears his name (senryū). Before his passing at the age of 73, he composed the following jisei or death poem. Note that the characters for “senryū” (river willow) can also be read “kawa yanagi” in Japanese.

Now the wintry wind—
but then let your buds blossom,
river willow.

—Translated by David Bowles, August 2015

Original Japanese

kogarashi ya
ato de me o fuke

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