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Haiku and the JapaneseThe Memory of Beauty

In Japan, more than two hundred years ago, a lonely little boy grew up to be a great man. His name was Yataro Kobayashi. Yataro had been left motherless at an early age, and his father, thought kind, was often too busy to take notice of him. Yataros best friend was his grandmother, who helped him find pleasure and happiness in the beauty of the earthand its creatures.

Rising Action
Yataros father thought much and deeply about his son. He said nothing, but deep in his heart he knew that Yataro would one day be a truly fine poet. While the father pondered, Yataros life continued in the same way-work, loneliness, friendship with the creatures of the meadow and the sky. There were moments of hapiness, but they were also fragile and fleeting, like the sudden grief and fleeting.

Small creatures were so easily hurt. Nothing stayed the same. Leaves fell from the trees. The clouds in the sky appeared and disappeared. The brook was always moving, never pausing. Yataro thought much about this mystery of life. The beauty of the earth, his mother, his grandmother, comfort, happiness-how quickly they vanished! Even the fireflies lingered but a moment. Beauty was gone too soon.

Falling Action
In the midst of his poverty and loneliness, Yataro found solace in expressing himself by trying to write haiku. There were haiku schools and haiku clubs in the city, but he could not afford to attend them. Besides, he felt sure that the pupils and club members would not a poor young man who had no fine city manners nor good clothes be with them.

Perhaps it was because of his memories of his mother, his grandmother, and his father that Issa decided to return to his home village. Perhaps that is why he came to be sitting there under a tree with some children, one summer day. But the children looked puzzled. They didnt quite understand what he meant.