This is a page dedicated to the great poet and writer Matsuo Basho and is updated from time to time. The titles in italics + parentheses are not from the original works but something I’ve added to make things easier for people scanning this page.
 

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Jump to Craft.

Jump to Books.

 
Writing:

(A cloud in the wind.)

I am like a sick man weary of society. There was a time I wanted an official post, land of my own, another time I would have liked to live in a monastery. Yet I wandered on, a cloud in the wind, wanting only to capture the beauty of the flowers and birds.

 

Violets —
how precious on
a mountain path.

 

(Travelers.)

Days and months are travellers of eternity. So are the years that pass by. Those who steer a boat across the sea, or drive a horse over the earth till they succumb to the weight of years, spend every minute of their lives travelling. There are a great number of ancients, too, who died on the road. I myself have been tempted a long time by the cloud-moving wind — filled with a strong desire to wander.

 

Summer grasses,
all that remains
of soldiers’ dreams.

 

(Borrowing a horse.)

I noticed a small village in the distance, but before I reached it, rain began to fall and darkness closed in. I put up at a solitary farmer’s house for the night, and started again early next morning.

As I was plodding though the grass, I noticed a horse grazing by the roadside and a farmer cutting grass with a sickle. I asked him to do me the favor of lending me his horse. The farmer hesitated for a while, but finally with a touch of sympathy in his face, he said to me, ‘There are hundreds of cross-roads in the grass-moor. A stranger like you can easily go astray. This horse knows the way. You can send him back when he won’t go any further.’

So I mounted the horse and started off, when two small children came running after me. One of them was a girl named kasane, which means manifold. I thought her name was somewhat strange but exceptionally beautiful.

 

Sick on a journey —
over parched fields
dreams wander on.

 

It is with awe
That I beheld
Fresh leaves, green leaves,
Bright in the sun.

 

Frost

Wearing a robe of frost,
the wind spread as it’s sleeping mat;
an abandoned baby.

 

Ah spring, spring,
great is spring,
etcetera.

 

First winter rain —
I plod on,
Traveler my name.

 

Wrapping dumplings in
bamboo leaves, with one finger
she tidies her hair.

 

Drinking morning tea
the monk is peaceful
the chrysanthemum blooms.

 

The temple bell stops.
But the sound keeps coming
out of the flowers.

 

Taking a nap,
feet planted
against a cool wall.

 

In my new clothing
I feel so different, I must
look like someone else.

 

Singing, planting rice,
village songs more lovely
than famous city poems.

 

Fresh spring!
The world is only nine days old —
These fields and mountains!

 

Kannon’s tiled temple
roof floats far away in the clouds
of cherry blossoms

 

Drinking morning tea
the monk is peaceful
the chrysanthemum blooms.

 

The temple bell stops.
But the sound keeps coming
out of the flowers.

 

Taking a nap,
feet planted
against a cool wall.

 

Spring too, very soon!
they are setting the scene for it —
plum tree and moon.

 

A caterpillar,
this deep in fall —
still not a butterfly.

 

A man, infirm
with age, slowly sucks
a fish bone.

 

A snowy morning —
by myself,
chewing on dried salmon.

 

Awake at night —
the sound of the water jar
cracking in the cold.

 

Sick on my journey,
only my dreams will wander
these desolate moors

 

Bush-clover flowers —
they sway but do not drop
their beads of dew

 

Chilling autumn rains
curtain Mount Fuji, then make it
more beautiful to see

 

spring:
a hill without a name
veiled in morning mist

 

scent of plum blossoms
on the misty mountain path
a big rising sun

 

I like to wash,
the dust of this world
in the droplets of dew

 

Long conversations
beside blooming irises
joys of life on the road

 

Morning and evening
Someone waits at Matsushima!
One-sided love.

 

Poverty’s child –
he starts to grind rice
and gazes at the moon

 

On this road
where nobody else travels
autumn nightfall

 

The whole family
all with white hair and canes
visiting graves

 

Winter solitude —
in a world of one color
the sound of wind

 

year’s end, all
corners of this
floating world, swept

 

a field of cotton —
as if the moon had flowered

 

The moon and the sun are eternal travelers. Even the years wander on. A lifetime adrift in a boat or in old age leading a tired horse into the years, every day is a journey. And the journey itself is home.

 

summer grass,
where the warriors
used to dream

 

…even hearing about it after the fact, our hearts throbbed.

 

Another year is gone;
and I still wear
straw hat and straw sandal

 

Sick on a journey
my dreams wander
the withered fields

 

One field
did they plant
I, under the willow

 

Turbulent the sea —
across to Sado stretches
the Milky Way

 

I am the one
who eats his breakfast
gazing at morning glories.

 

Sad nodes
we’re all the bamboo’s children
in the end

 

Sweet-smelling rice fields!
To our right as we push through
the Ariso Sea

 

Should I take it in my hand
it would disappear with my hot tears,
like the frost of autumn.

 

Stillness —
the cicada’s cry
drills into the rocks

 

 
Craft:

Basho strove to place his reader within an experience whose unfolding might lead to a revelation…

-Lucien Stryk (On Love And Barley: Haiku Of Basho)

 

(The poet’s self.)

A disciple of Matsuo Basho talks about some advice he gave:

The master said, ‘Learn about a pine tree from a pine tree, and about a bamboo stalk from a bamboo stalk.’ What he meant was that the poet should detach his mind from self…and enter into the object, sharing its delicate life and feelings. Whereupon a poem forms itself. Description of the object is not enough: unless a poem contains feelings which have come from the object, the object and the poet’s self will be separate things.

 

 
Books:


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