Basho’s wordplay haiku: plumb-hinted rain

This is a cute wordplay by Basho but the wordplay can’t be translated into English. One word for rainy season (June-July) in Japan is “tsuyu” or 梅雨 in the kanji. Kanji can be pronounced in different ways, depending on whether they are used individually or in combination with other kanji. When 梅雨 is separated into and , it becomes “ume” and “ame,” meaning Japanese sour plumbs and rain. So he is playing with the word “rainy season” by breaking it into its kanji components of “sour plumb” and “rain” and saying that the sound of rain makes his ears sour. Another note is the rhyming of “ume” and “ame.”
My Translation
With the falling sound
My ears also sour—
Of plumb-hinted rain
Original Japanese
降る音や耳も酸うなる梅の雨
Pronunciation
Furu oto ya
Mimi mo suu naru
Ume no ame
Literal
Falling sound and
Ears also sour become
Plumb’s rain

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