Tag Archives: haiku


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“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought”.

— *Basho, (1644-1694)

This is good advice. However, I would amend it to say “Follow in the footsteps of the wise and seek what they sought”.  The harmonics of wisdom recognize the gradient scale of wisdom.  Wisdom is relative to all other wisdom.
In the teaching of wisdom, one much become  a good follower.  Yet to follow effectively one must lead others.  Basho exemplified the most able of wise men.  At the time of his death, Basho had more than 2000 students.
Yet, here is the eternal right of the individual to disdain from the playing of games simply to enjoy the serene and simple state of Being.   Or, the enjoy the pleasure of Creation for its own sake, without regard to an audience.  However, it is far easier to preach to the choir than to enlighten the “heathen”.

Here are a few of the wonderful  *Haiku poems attributed to Bash (they may not have retained their purity in the English translation, but you get the flavour of them):

An old pond!
A frog jumps in-
The sound of water.


The years first day
thoughts and loneliness;
the autumn dusk is here.


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


A weathered skeleton
in windy fields of memory,
piercing like a knife


*DEFINITION OF HAIKU: Haiku is one of the most important form of traditional Japanese poetry. Haiku is, today, a 17-syllable verse form consisting of three metrical units of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Since early days, there has been confusion between the three related terms Haiku, Hokku and Haikai. The termhokku literally means “starting verse”, and was the first starting link of a much longer chain of verses known ashaika. Because the hokku set the tone for the rest of the poetic chain, it enjoyed a privileged position in haikaipoetry, and it was not uncommon for a poet to compose ahokku by itself without following up with the rest of the chain.

The name Basho (banana tree) is a sobriquet he adopted around 1681 after moving into a hut with a banana tree alongside. He was called Kinsaku in childhood and Matsuo Munefusa in his later days.