Monday, May 21, 2012

Basho: a haiku or two or maybe . . .

Some time ago I bought a collection of haiku by poets the editor called Haiku Masters.  When I opened it, I was surprised to find that it had no haiku by Basho.  In the Introduction, the editor explained that he hadn't included any by Basho because Basho was the Haiku Poet, and therefore superior to the Haiku Masters.

While I don't think every haiku by Basho is a gem, as some editors and commentators claim, I do think he has more gems than any other haiku poet and I can't argue when he's called the Haiku Poet..

Here are some:

          For a lovely bowl
Let us arrange these flowers .  .  .
       Since there is no rice

Opportunities to create beauty are everywhere.

-   -   -   -   -   -

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

My favorite haiku.  I've posted this one before and I'll probably post it again.

-   -   -   -   -   -

          White cloud of mist
Above white cherry-blossoms .  .  .
      Dawn-shining mountains

Sheer imagery

-   -   -   -   -   -

  Twilight whippoorwill .  .  .
Whistle on, sweet deepener
       Of dark loneliness

This goes straight to the heart: 
"sweet deepener
       Of dark loneliness"

All haiku are taken from A Little Treasury of Haiku, Avenel Books.
Translations by Peter Beilenson

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