Life, my life (mi no ue)


My Life, my fate (mi no ue)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity


my life situation, circumstances of my life
mi no ue, mi-no-ue みのうえ 身に上

one's fortune, one's future, one's lot; one's history

mi no ue banashi ... stories about my own life or my fate
mi no ue no soodan ... a discussion about personal matters

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


Some haiku by Issa

mi no ue no tsuyu tomo shirade sawagi keri

unaware of life
passing like dewdrops...
they frolic

mi no ue no kane to shiritsutsu yûgasumi

knowing the bell
rings away life...
evening mist

Three years later (1823) Issa revises this haiku to end with "evening cool" (yûsuzumi).

mi no ue no kane tomo shirade yûsuzumi

not knowing the bell
rings away life...
evening cool

In a haiku written in 1823 Issa changes perspective:

mi no ue no kane to shiritsutsu yûsuzumi

knowing the bell
rings away life...
evening cool

mi no ue no tsuyu to wa sara ni shiranu kana

not at all aware
that life's dewdrop
is fading...


kono tsugi wa waga mi no ue ka naku karasu

will I be the next one
they caw over?
graveyard crows

Or, the third line might read, simply: "crows."

The word "graveyard" doesn't appear in the original text, but I have added it in light of Issa's prescript: "Elegy for Master Kôshun." According to Jean Cholley, the deceased, Kôshun (Tokizawa Yûzô), was Issa's friend; En village de miséreux: Choix de poèmes de Kobayashi Issa (Paris: Gallimard, 1996) 237.

Tr. David Lanoue


"The Autumn Wind"

...a long tale of misfortune for Issa began with his young mother's death when he was only three years old. Memories of her sympathy and understanding deepened for him with the years as he found the world less kind, and they probably passed beyond anything actually remembered into an idealized vision.

Although his grandmother looked after the child fondly, it seems that to the years immediately following his mother's death Issa traced in himself that awareness of the essential solitude of men and women and of the limitations of human relationships which pervades many of his verses.

mi no ue no tsuyu to mo shirade hodashi keri

heedless of the dew
that marks our closing day
we bind ourselves to others

© Tr. Lewis Mackenzie

hodashi keri ...
hodasu .. means "to be moved by somebody's kindness"
絆す... the Chinese character is also used for KIZUNA, a bond between poeple.


mi no ue no kane to shiritsutsu yûsuzumi

О да, я знаю, это по мне
колокол вечерний звонит,
но в тишине прохладой дышу.

O yes, I know it is for me
That the evening bell tolls.
But I still breathe the air in silence.

© Tr. Dmitri SMIRNOV


Mi no ue no tsuyu tomo shirade yusuzumi

Tăcînd soneria
sună mai departe viata –
răcoarea serii

© Traduceri de Vasile MOLDOVAN


Masaoka Shiki

mi-no-ue ya mikuji o hikeba aki no kaze

Mi-no-ue means "one's fortune," "one's fate," or 'one's lot in life'; mi-kuji is "oracle," and hikeba, "to draw." So mi-kuji o kikeba means "to draw one's fortune." Finally, aki is "autumn," and kaze, "wind."

One needs to know the circumstances that made Shiki write this haiku.

At most Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in Japan, a small sum of money will get one a fortune-telling paper. An attendant shakes an oblong box containing a number of bamboo sticks until one stick emerges from a small hole in the top of the box. The stick bears a number that dictates which paper is handed to the patron. On the paper are printed a picture of the deity to whom the temple or shrine is dedicated and a prediction of one's fortune, which is accepted as an oracle from the deity. It forecasts love and marriage, travel, finances, change of residence, health, and length of life.

On September 20, 1895, Shiki and Yanagihara Kyokudou made an excursion to Ishite-ji. The two young men were sitting on the veranda of the Otsuya-do when a fortune-telling paper drawn by someone else was carried by the breeze to Shiki's side. He picked it up and read it. It was the worst forecast possible, with lines like "Misfortune overshadows your future ... illness, long-lasting but not incurable."
Since Shiki was already ill (at the time), he took the omen seriously and, as Kyokudo later confirmed, worried about it, half believing, half not believing it.

(Alas my) fortune;
drawing divine lots,
the autumn wind.

.. meister_z SHIKI


... my life ...
a sparrow balances
on a thin branch

Gabi Greve, May 2008

わが命 小枝にとまる雀かな
Tr. by. Esho Shimazu, facebook friend


not much
and yet
my autumn

November 3, 2011


mi no ue no natsu ya hasu no ichimai-ba

is upon me
a lotus leaf

Death poem of
Kurata Kassan 倉田 葛三

Japanese Death Poems:
Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets

Related words

***** Dead body, deceased person, corpse (hotoke) Japan
Death Poems, Death Haiku

***** Ishide (Ishite) Temple and Haiku

***** Mikuji, O-Mikuji (sacred lots)
MIKUJI, click for more photos about furtune telling

"Haiku is the poetry of the first person."

. I .. the first person   


1 comment:

Billie Dee said...

Many thanks for this gift of scholarship Gabi san! So much to learn at WKDB.

Billie Dee