Matsuo Basho

初雪(はつゆき)や 水仙(すいせん)()の たわむまで

hatsuyuki ya / suisen no ha no / tawamu made
The first snow falls | the leaf of a daffodil plant | bends a little

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.

初雪はつゆきや 水仙すいせんの たわむまで
The first snow falls | the leaf of a daffodil plant | bends a little


  • 初雪(はつゆき) first snow (of the season) [this is the 季語(きご) kigo or season word: winter]
  • や  kireji (a kind of punctuation word in poetry)
  • 水仙(すいせん) daffodil (flower); narcissus (flower)
  • () leaf; blade (of grass)
  • 水仙(すいせん)() the leaf of a narcissus plant (daffodil)
  • たわむ to bend; to warp
  • まで to the extent (the amount of snow was just enough to bend)

季語(きご) Season Word

What is the 季語(きご)? It is "初雪(はつゆき)", which means "first snow" and indicates the season is winter. It seems Basho wrote this poem at the end of January. 


Haiku poetry is celebrated for its ability to convey profound implications through minimal words, often leaving a space for imagination and interpretation. The "kigo," or seasonal word, in this instance, "初雪(はつゆき)" (first snowfall), subtly situates the poem in winter without explicitly saying so. The inclusion of "まで" (until) towards the poem's end hints at the duration or extent of the snowfall, enriching the scene's depiction without explicit detail.

Rather than stating the season or the snowfall's intensity directly, the poem allows us to infer that it is winter and that the snowfall was gentle. This inference is drawn from the observation that the daffodil leaves are only slightly bent (たわむ), not overwhelmed or crushed by the snow's weight. This delicate detail suggests that the snowfall was indeed light, a conclusion reached not through words but through the vivid imagery of bending leaves.

Matsuo Basho, through this haiku, masterfully encapsulates the essence of a moment—the tender touch of the season's first snow, sufficient to bend but not to break the resilient daffodil leaves. It is a nuanced portrayal of nature's fragile balance, where even the slightest alterations can be felt and visualized, imprinting an enduring image of the scene's serene beauty. The haiku encourages us to appreciate the subtlety of nature's interactions and the quiet grace of its transitions, showcasing Basho's exceptional ability to capture the understated elegance of the natural world.

There are many words that use the 「はつ」 reading of (はつ) indicating the first of something. Here are a few useful words:


first snow of the season


first dream of the new year


first shrine visit of the new year


first love


New Year’s Sumo tournament held in Tokyo


first sunrise of the year (New Year’s Day)


hearing something for the first time

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe to Makoto+ for a few bucks a month and get Makoto ezine, haiku lessons, repetition and shadowing, tongue twisters, and much more!


Check out our growing library of our highly-discounted, instant downloadable digital bundles.