Read poems below or click on their numbers to comment and share. Students of Japanese are welcome to ask language-related questions.
I let them pile up, I let them slide down: the fallen leaves on the roof
tamaru ni makase otsuru ni makasu yane ochiba
(Takahama Kyoshi 高浜虚子)
Fallen leaves, ochiba, are a winter season word.
In my water, having fallen from the neighbor’s peach tree—a hairy caterpillar
waga mizu ni tonari no momo no kemushi kana
The word peach, momo, can refer to the tree or to its fruit, and is an autumn season word.
The poem depicts a yard, with the phrase “my water” indicating water collected there in some form, such as in a basin or a pond.
The literal phrasing of the original is “the neighbor’s peach’s hairy caterpillar”, and it is left to the reader to fill in the rest of the scene—a branch going over the fence and the caterpillar falling off it into the water, where it now wriggles.
Quiet night; a whistling is fading away, leaving behind it loneliness
shizuka na yo kuchibue no kiesaru samishisa
(Tsuru Akira 鶴彬)
Fire of the gods; a pale-apricot twilight
kami no ka ya usukōbai no yūmagure
(Masaoka Shiki 正岡子規)
Pale apricot, usukōbai, is one of the (vast number of) traditional Japanese color names, and is a kind of light pink—see example here. The same word is also a spring season word, since apricot, ume, blossoms in spring. The poem can be understood in two ways: (1) the twilight itself is apricot-colored; (2) the twilight is the backdrop of blossoming apricot trees. For usukōbai to function as a season word, meaning (2) is necessary—so the poem probably refers both to the color of the sky and to the color of actual flowers.
Lying in my bed I listen as it sings of the far-off past: a mosquito
nete kikeba tōki mukashi o naku ka kana
(Ozaki Hōsai 尾崎放哉)
A mosquito, ka, is a season word associated with summer. The scene is probably one where the poet is within a mosquito net (a summer season word in its own right) while the mosquito flies around it trying to find a way in. This type of scene has a long history in Japanese poetry and literature, hence the association with the distant past.