Three Sparks and a Flare

This haiku derives some of its poignancy from its being a death poem.

Chine-jo was a pupil of Bashō. As one collects and reads the various English versions, the mention of the kinship with the firefly comes and goes but the theme of passing remains.

By Peter Beilenson in Four Seasons: Japanese Haiku (Peter Pauper Press, 1958)

Suddenly you light
     And as suddenly
     Go dark …

By Ikuko Atsumi and Kenneth Rexroth in Women Poets of Japan [originally published by The Seabury Press in 1977 as The Burning Heart]

The fireflies’ light.
How easily it goes on
How easily it goes out again.

By Jane Reichold in Those Women Writing Haiku (self-published, 1990[?])

suddenly you light
then suddenly go dark…
sister firefly

By Stephen Addiss in Haiku: An Anthology of Japanese Poems (Shambhala Publications, 2009)

     Burning so easily,
Extinguishing so easily —
     the firefly

And so for day 2500

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