previous page: Poets who influenced Passage through August next page: Elizabeth Bishop
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
News & Announcements
About the Poets
Additional Reading

Portrait of Bashō - Hokusai
Matsuo Munefusa, alias Bashō (1644-94), was a Japanese poet and writer during the early Edo period. He took his pen name Bashō from his bashō-an, a hut made of plantain leaves, to where he would withdraw from society for solitude. Born of a wealthy family, Bashō was a Samurai until the age of 20, at which time he devoted himself to his poetry. Bashō was a main figure in the development of haiku, and is considered to have written the most perfect examples of the form. His poetry explores the beauties of nature and are influenced by Zen Buddhism, which lends itself to the meditative solitude sensed in his haiku. He traveled extensively throughout his lifetime. His 1689 five-month journey deep into the country north and west of Edo provided the insight for his most famous work Oku no hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Deep North). This great work was posthumoustly published in 1702 and is still read by most Japanse high school students.

 Visit the Links Page for Bashō web sites  

Matsuo Bashō


    Even in Kyoto--
hearing the cuckoo's cry--
    I long for Kyoto.
    A crow
has settled on a bare branch--
    autumn evening.
    The crane's legs
have gotten shorter
    in the spring rain.
    Weathered bones
on my mind,
    a wind-pierced body.	  
    This road - 
no one goes down it,
    autumn evening    
    Another year gone--
hat in hand,
    sandals on my feet.
    The old pond--
a frog jumps in
    sound of water.
    The winter sun--
on the horse's back
    my frozen shadow.
    Seeing people off,
being seen off--
    autumn in Kiso.
    A cold rain starting
and no hat--
    Singing, flying, singing
the cuckoo
    keeps busy.
    Visiting the graves--
    leaning on their canes.
    Midnight frost--
I'd borrow
    the scarecrow's shirt.
    When the winter chrysanthemums go
there's nothing to write about
    but radishes.