January 19, 2012

The help


In chapter 10 of Serpent of Time, Ryô travels south from Kishiwada in the company of seasonal workers. The Edo period haiku poet Kobayashi Issa wrote often about the plain and practical aspects of life, including the disposition of servants and seasonal workers, as in this haiku:

出代の市にさらすや五十顔
degawari no ichi ni sarasu ya gojû kao

The fifty year-old face of a
a laid-off servant at market
there for all to see.

David Lanoue comments:

In springtime, old servants were replaced by young ones. The old ones would leave their employers to return to their home villages; the young ones traveled in the opposite direction. In earlier times this took place during February; later, in March.

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