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imo ga ko wa ho mugi no kaze ni futori keri

my child
in the barley field wind...
nicely plump

Mugi is a generic term that refers to several grains: wheat, barley, oats, and rye. The phrase, imo ga ko ("sister's child") means, in literary usage, "my wife's child," ergo, "my child" (Shinji Ogawa).

Issa wrote this haiku in Third Month, 1816. At the time, his wife was in her eighth month of pregnancy with their first child, Sentarô. The poet might be fantasizing hopefully about the future. Sadly, Sentarô would not grow nicely healthy and plump; he died a month after birth.

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