Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Wind in My Hand, Hanako Fukuda (with editorial assistance from Mark Taylor) has written a biographical sketch of Kobayashi Yatar, a haiku poet known as Issa, the poetic signature he designed to suggest the evanescence of a bubble in a cup of tea. Basing his narrative on the fragmentary autobiographical notes that Issa wrote as a kind of diary or journal, Fukuda arranges his account of Issa’s life as the recollections of an old man returning to his native village toward the latter part of his life. The narrative begins as Issa rests in reflection on a peaceful summer day, a setting that introduces the natural world as a central theme of Issa’s poetry. The old man sees a group of children playing nearby and begins to sing the verse of a song that accompanies their game. The children are startled by the stranger, but his warmth and cheerful manner touch their curiosity; as they approach, he explains that the age-old song about a motherless child has a special meaning for him. The children (and the reader) draw closer, attracted by the air of wisdom and mystery he projects. Issa tells them that he was born in their village and begins to relate the circumstances of his boyhood, establishing a connection between the stages of a person’s life.

The first chapter functions as a frame, enclosing the narrative in a mood of meditation while permitting the events of Issa’s life to occur in an immediate present as Fukuda recounts them. A dimension of growth and...

(The entire section is 606 words.)