Kobayashi Issa | Painting with poem

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Poor but cool
Kobayashi Issa, the last great haikai poet of the Edo period, is today the most popular among the general public, where he wins praise for his optimism and poignant humor. These qualities were not achieved easily. Born to a peasant family in Shinano, he lost his mother at age two, living thereafter under the eye of an abusive stepmother. In his teens he was sent off to Edo as an apprentice. Happily, that city offered much to console this loneliness. It was there that his poetic talent emerged.
Between 1792 and 1798, Issa was on the road, establishing this reputation. But several years after his return to Edo, he was called back to Shinano with news of his father’s illness. The old man died that summer. This ended one trial but began another, precipitated by his brother’s refusal to grant him his portion of the family estate. For the next decade Issa lived an impoverished existence in Edo, estranged from his family and bitter over his losses. (Steven D. Carter: Traditional Japanese Poetry: An Anthology, p.416).

Poor, poor, yes, poor.
The poorest of the provinces –
but cool.

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