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Ludmila Balabanova on Issa

Ludmila Balabanova

I have learnt from many authors, but it seems that the world of Issa is closest to my spirit. The French writer Saint-Exupéry says that we come from our childhood as we come from a country. I come from a sad childhood. My sister was ill. I was sixteen when she passed away. Reading Issa's haiku, at first I knew nothing about his childhood, but I felt that sadness coming from childhood and remaining forever. Maybe because Issa lost his mother at an early age, the theme of loss, of disappearing of things is present in his best works, even if it is not a basic theme in his poems. As:

A night boat
sails away
illuminated by a wildfire

The work of Issa can be explored in many aspects, but I am most attached to two of them: the theme of wandering and the attitude to animals. Born under a wandering star he did not stop traveling. I love this marvelous haiku:

Where will my star
stop for the night?
Heaven's River

Issa's attitude to animals may have also been connected with his childhood. Of course we may search for deeper roots of this peculiarity of his poems, for instance in his Buddhist attitude to nature, but the fact that he is always on the side of the tiny and the defenseless seems to be due to the lack of motherly protection in his childhood. It is not accidental that in his haiku you can find stepchildren among the birds. Issa's art, however, is very rich and couldn't be explained only in terms of his life and childhood.

Bulgarian version