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Matsuo Bashō

Matsuo Bashō was born Matsuo Kinsaku and then was known as Matsuo Chūemon Munafusa. He was the most famous poet during the Edo period in Japan. He was recognized for his work in haikai no renga, but today is known as the master of the haiku. In Japan, many of his poems are now seen on monuments and other traditional sites.

Basho is known to have ten disciples: Enomoto Kikaku, Hattori Ransetsu, Mukai Kyorai, Morikawa Kyoroku, Kagami Shikoo, Naito Joso (Naitoo Joosoo), Shida Yaba, Sugiyama Sanpuu, Tachibana Hokushi, and Ochi Etsujin. And he is considered one of the great four haiku masters along with Yosa Buson, Kobayashi Issa, and Masaoka Shiki.

Haiku by Bashō

  • First day of spring--
  • I keep thinking about
  • the end of autumn.
  • Spring rain
  • leaking through the roof
  • dripping from the wasps' nest.
  • Fallen sick on a journey,
  • In dreams I run wildly
  • Over a withered moor.
  • An old silent pond...
  • A frog jumps into the pond,
  • splash! Silence again.
  • The first soft snow!
  • Enough to bend the leaves
  • Of the jonquil low.
  • In the cicada's cry
  • No sign can foretell
  • How soon it must die.
  • No one travels
  • Along this way but I,
  • This autumn evening.
  • In all the rains of May
  • there is one thing not hidden -
  • the bridge at Seta Bay.
  • The years first day
  • thoughts and loneliness;
  • the autumn dusk is here.
  • Clouds appear
  • and bring to men a chance to rest
  • from looking at the moon.
  • Harvest moon:
  • around the pond I wander
  • and the night is gone.
  • Poverty's child -
  • he starts to grind the rice,
  • and gazes at the moon.
  • No blossoms and no moon,
  • and he is drinking sake
  • all alone!
  • Won't you come and see
  • loneliness? Just one leaf
  • from the kiri tree.
  • Temple bells die out.
  • The fragrant blossoms remain.
  • A perfect evening!

Next: Buson, Yosa