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いざ行かん 雪見に転ぶ 所まで

松尾芭蕉(まつおばしょう)

Matsuo Basho

いざかん 雪見ゆきみころぶ ところまで

Come now, let’s go enjoy the snow until we tumble down

Key Haiku Terms

季語 kigo seasonal words - Within the poem, at least one word or phrase should symbolize one of the four seasons. 

切れ字 kireji cutting words - These are small words that often function as a placeholder so the verse has the right number of moras.  They also function to give a certain emotional or sentimental flavor to the poem.

いざかん 雪見ゆきみころぶ ところまで

Come now, let’s go enjoy the snow until we tumble down

VOCABULARY

  • いざ()かん come on, let’s go [いざ (now) + ()かん (dialect form of ()こう (let’s go; volitional form of ()く (to go))); ()く has two readings: いく and ゆく. The meaning is the same, but ゆく may have a more poetic or old-fashioned feel to it.]
  • 雪見(ゆきみ) snow viewing
  • に in; into; during
  • (ころ)ぶ to fall down; to fall over 
  • (ところ)まで up to the point [(ところ)(point; place; spot) + まで (up to; until (a time); till)]


COMMENTARY:

意味いみ)さあ、雪見ゆきみをしにこう!ゆきあしをとられてころぶまで。ゆきもる様子ようすて、わくわくしている作者さくしゃ気持きもちがつたわります。

(Meaning) Hurry up, let's go see the snow-clad scenery! Until we get our feet caught in the snow and we fall down. It conveys the feeling of the author who is excited to see the snow piling up.

VOCABULARY:

  • 意味(いみ) meaning; sense; significance
  • さあ come now; hurry up; come
  • 雪見(ゆきみ)をしに()こう let’s go see the snow-clad scenery [雪見(ゆきみ) (snow viewing; snow didn't fall much in Edo (modern-day Tokyo) and was therefore a special event) + を (indicates the direct object of action) + し (ます-stem form of する (to do)) + に()こう (let’s go to do; plain volitional form of に()く (go to do; how to form: Verb (ます-stem) + に()く); volitional form of a verb is used when the speaker suggests, urges, or initiates an act)] 
  • (ゆき)に in the snow [(ゆき) (snow; snowfall) + に (in; expresses the direction)]
  • (あし)をとられて(ころ)ぶまで until (we) get (our) feet caught (in the snow) and fall down [(あし) (foot; feet) + を (indicates (あし) as the direct object of action) + とられて (て-form of とられる (plain passive positive form of とる (to catch; to take)) which is used to connect to the next phrase, creating the meaning of “and”) + (ころ)ぶ (to fall down; to fall over) + まで (until; till)]
  • (ゆき)()もる様子(ようす)()て to see the snow piling up [(ゆき) (snow; snowfall) + が (emphasizes the preceding word (ゆき)) + ()もる (to pile up; to accumulate) + 様子(ようす) (look; appearance) + を (indicates the direct object of action) + ()て (て-form of ()る (to see; to look; to watch) which is used to connect to the next phrase)]
  • わくわくしている be excited; is thrilled; is filled with excitement [わくわく (excited; thrilled) + している (ている-form of する (to do) which is used to describe the condition or appearance of the subject; how to form: Verb て-form + いる)]
  • 作者(さくしゃ)気持(きも)ち feeling of the author [作者(さくしゃ) (author; writer) + の (of; modifier) + 気持(きも)ち (feeling; mood; state of mind)]
  • が (identifies what performs the action described by the verb (つた)わります)
  • (つた)わります to be handed down; to be transmitted; covey; transfer; carry [ます/polite form of (つた)わる (to be handed down)]


季語【きご】 Season Word

What is the 季語【きご】? It is 雪見【ゆきみ】 (snow viewing) which makes this a winter poem.

You've surely heard of 花見【はなみ】 where Japanese have picnics under the falling cherry blossoms in the spring. And in the fall, there is 月見【つきみ】 (moon viewing). And in Edo (modern day Tokyo) where it didn't snow much, people also enjoyed viewing snow in the winter. 


Interpretation

This poem was written in 1688 and revised over the next year by Basho.

Two Lovers Beneath an Umbrella in the Snow, Color woodblock print by 鈴木 春信 Suzuki Harunobu

A Romantic Poem?

Could this be Basho inviting a young lady to frolic with him in the snow? It's certainly a playful image. Let's go run through the snow, hand-in-hand, totally free of care... until we tumble and fall.

It's childish and silly but perhaps a little romantic too. Let's have fun in the snow, just the two of us. The vast, silent snow blankets and shields us from anyone else. There's no one in the world but us two.

Basho was about 43 when he wrote this. He was a fully-grown adult. But perhaps he met somebody new and felt a sudden rush of youthful playfulness despite his age.

At any rate, he is asking someone to rush in the snow with him. The いざ that starts the poem may indicate a sudden idea that popped into his head. He wants someone to stay with him until they both slip and fall with laughter (indicated by the ころぶ(ところ)まで).

He could be talking to a child and wanting to accommodate that child's desire to frolic in the snow, but perhaps more likely he is infatuated with some lady and has become a child again in his heart.

Note how the haiku begins with the call to action. いざ()かん! Well now, let's go! And ends with his real purpose (maybe), to playfully fall down in the snow with his lover.

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