“A Child Has Died” by Matsuo Bashō

Japanese poet Bashō composed the following haiku in 1666, apparently after visiting the home of a couple whose young child had died. The sight of their despair reminded him of the nō play Take no Yuki (“Snow on Bamboo”) by the playwright Zeami Motokiyo, in which a young boy dies from the cold in a bamboo grove.

Bereft, bent by grief,
world out of joint like those limbs—
bamboo under snow.

—Translated by David Bowles, March 2015

Original Japanese

shiore fusu ya
yo wa sakasama no
yuki no take

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