Haiku by Issa

This dewdrop world,
is a dewdrop world,
and yet

tsuyu no yo wa tsuyu no yo nagara sari nagara

12 1/4″ W x 43″ H Japanese Scroll
by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase


SKU: H3010SS Category: Tags: , , ,

H3010 – Haiku by Issa – This dewdrop world …
by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase

This dewdrop world,
is a dewdrop world,
and yet

tsuyu no yo wa
tsuyu no yo nagara
sari nagara
issa 一茶

This is one of Kobayashi Issa’s most well known poems. Written upon the death of his young daughter this poem speaks to the Buddhist teachings that one must not cling to this dewdrop (fleeting) world. And yet Issa does with his feelings of pain and loss.

David G. Lanoue, author of Laughing Buddha has a website Kobayashi Issa Archive with some 9000 Issa poems including many insightful commentaries and is one of the most complete and informative on the Internet. He offers the translation:

this world,
is a dewdrop world yes …
but …

David G. Lanoue comments:

According to Buddhist teaching, life is as fleeting as a dewdrop and so one should not grow attached to the things of this world. However, in both poems Issa adds the phrase, ‘and yet…’ His human heart clings to his lost children.

Nelson and Saito suggests the translation:

The world of dew is indeed
The fleeting world of dew –
And yet, and yet.

Harold Henderson suggests the translation:

This Dewdrop World …
a dewdrop world it is, and still,
although it is …

Henderson writes:

The first line is taken from the scripture comparing the evanescence of life in the world with that of dew. But Issa is not thinking in generalities; he is suffering from the loss of his child. … A ‘Dew-World’ though it is, it is no world for dewdrops. They will not stay in it – and, much as he tries to, he can find no solace in the scripture.

Basil Hall Chamberlain suggests the translation:

Granted this dewdrop world is but
A dewdrop worlds, – this granted, yet …

Chamberlain explains:

‘Granted that all phenomenon are transitory and valueless, like the dew that forthwith dries up and vanishes, still, when all is said and done, we can not quite afford to throw life and its joys away. There is some element of permanence in it yet, though it were hard to define this element precisely.’

Asataro Miyamori notes that at the time, Chamberlain did not know this poem was an elegy. [6]

Glenn Shaw suggest the translation:

World like a dewdrop-
Though it’s only a dewdrop,
Even so, even so-


[1] Translation by Timothy L. Jackowski, Takase Studios, LLC.

[2] Lanoue, David G. (1991-2009). Haiku of Kobayashi Issa.

[3] 197.

[4] 131.

[5] Chamberlain, Basil Hall. (1925). Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, Vol. 1. 123

[6] 523.