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chiru hana wo he to mo omowanu o-kao kana

not giving a damn
that cherry blossoms fall...
his stern face

This haiku has a prescript, "In praise of Dharma" or "An inscription on a picture of Dharma." Dharma (Bodhidharma) was the Buddhist patriarch who brought Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism from India to China. "Blossoms" (hana) can signify cherry blossoms in the shorthand of haiku. In an almost identical undated haiku, Dharma appears among falling plum blossoms. Shinji Ogawa explains that the expression, he to mo omowanu (consider it less than a fart) is a Japanese colloquial expression for "don't care a bit about it."

In the undated haiku, I translated o-kao as "his saintly face," but Gabi Greve and Sakuo Nakamura suggested that "stern" would be more befitting. For consistency's sake, I have done the same in this translation.

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All translations © 1991-2010 by David G. Lanoue, rights reserved.