Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Basho: Sept. 15?, 1644--Nov. 28, 1694

While there are no records that gives us the exact date Basho was born, Jane Reichhold, editor and translator of Basho: The Complete Haiku, writes that "[a]s with many births, his has become a matter of legend, giving him the birth date of the autumn full moon, or September 15." Sometimes, legends can be truer than truth, and in Basho's case, the first full moon in autumn is a good date.

I had a book titled The Haiku Masters, and surprisingly, it did not include any by Basho. The editor explained that the haiku masters were those considered to be among the greatest of poets. Basho is not considered a master: he is The Haiku Poet. So, rather than write about Basho, I think it's best just to provide a few samples of his poetry.

Basho's Four Seasons:


April's air stirs in
Willow-leaves . . . a butterfly
Floats and balances


Lonely silence
A single cicada's cry
Sinking into stone


A solitary
Crow on a bare branch--
Autumn evening


the sea darkening,
the wild duck's call
faintly white

Spring poem:
A Little Treasury of Haiku
Avenel Books
Peter Beilenson, trans.

Summer and autumn poems:
The Sound of Water
Shambhala Centaur Editions
Sam Hamill, trans.

Winter poem:
Basho's Haiku
SUNY Press
David Landis Barnhill, trans.

No comments:

Post a Comment