May 7, 2014

Slowly, Slowly!

O snail

Climb Mount Fuji,
But slowly, slowly!

One of Japan's most popular poets, Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) during his lifetime wrote over 20,000 haiku. Always poor, he used the dialects of the mountain villages where he lived to write his whimsical poems.

His works had a childlike simplicity and celebrated the ordinariness and the occasional sacredness in daily life, always finding delight in the little creatures of this world.

Issa wrote 54 haiku on the snail, 15 on the toad, nearly 200 on frogs, about 230 on the firefly, more than 150 on the mosquito, 90 on flies, over 100 on fleas and nearly 90 on the cicada.


  1. Hi Gregg,

    where did you get the lovely picture of the snail? I'd love a copy to serve as a visual reminder to slow down.


    1. Madeleine,

      I found the picture on an art website. The posting said, " the paintings are obtained from haiku books published by the british museum."

      Issa illustrated his poetry, but I could not find anything linking him to this painting. The painting is as simple and beautiful as the haiku.

    2. Madeleine,

      The website is: . The photo is used there, where you will also find more haiku by the masters.

    3. Thank you so much, Gregg. One of my favourite Haiku, which I like to reflect on as I get ready for the new year by cleaning and letting go of the extraneous, is -
      'Year's end, all corners of this floating world, swept.' Basho

      Have a wonderful day :)


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