A Mother's Day Haiku by Issa

A Mother's Day Haiku by Issa

Happy Mother's Day! (For much of the world)

This week, we have another haiku by the great 小林 一茶【こばやし いっさ】 Kobayashi Issa. It is a spring poem about an orphaned sparrow and a reminder how precious mothers are.


But first, a recap on the week

All FREE except the Dialogues update

I'm not sure we can keep that pace up this week, but we'll give it a try! :)


And now, today's Sunday Haiku:

Today's haiku is by 小林 一茶【こばやし いっさ】.  Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) is considered to be one of the four great masters of haiku in addition to Basho, Buson, and Shiki and rivals Basho in popularity. He wrote over 20,000 haiku.  issa means "one (cup of) tea." 

Makoto+ Shogun or Lifetime members, click here for today's haiku with sound and almost 100 other haiku lessons. (Not yet a member, let's fix that!)


Haiku lesson



Let's get right to it.


我と来て あそべや 親のない雀

ware to kite asobeya oya no nai suzume
Come to me / and let's play / little orphan sparrow



  • 我 I; me [formal]
  • と with (me)
  • 来て come and
  • あそべ play [gentle command]
  • や punctuational exclamation in haiku
  • 親 parent
  • のない without (parents)
  • 雀 sparrow


A sparrow that has been separated from its parents is looking lonely. Come to me and let's play together. I don't have any parents either.


季語【きご】 Season Word

What is the 季語【きご】? How do we know the time of the year?

This one's a little tricky, but the season word is 雀【すずめ】 (sparrow). Sparrows aren't migrating birds that only come around at a certain time, but the fact that it has strayed from its parents indicates this sparrow is probably young, a new hatchling. If so, this is set in the spring (March-April) when many sparrows are hatched.


A Closer Look

Is the sparrow really an orphan? How would the poet know for sure? It is thought that the orphan is actually the poet. He sees a little sparrow who has strayed from its parents and remembers his loneliness as a child.




Issa grew up in a middle-class farmer household, but when he was only three years old, his mother passed away. He was raised by his grandmother but when she died, Issa left for apprenticeship in Edo.

Perhaps he wishes to commiserate with the lost sparrow and with that sparrow, remake his childhood memories into something happy by playing together.

So, mothers, as this haiku suggests, you make a lifelong impact. 本当にありがとうございます。




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Thank you,
Clay & Yumi


Peter @ Tue, Jun 04, 24

Your haiku encouraged me to write a book about the world of haiku.

Thank you dearly.