We have been reading translations of the poetry and prose of Basho this semester. Each verse ought to be its own meditation. I chose a few seasonal ones to share.
The first one suggests, to me, his mood at the time of its writing, his full heart and his full life, and perhaps how close he felt to the winding down of his mortal existence as he took his journey and narrated it in verse. Or simply his connection to the sheer beauty of the place and time in which he found himself. This translation is by Nobuyuki Yuasa.
The passing spring.
With tearful eyes.
A few pages later, the reader comes across an altogether different emotional state and view of the world.
It was with awe
That I beheld
Fresh leaves, green leaves,
Bright in the sun.
He says in his collected works, “What is important is to keep our minds high in the world of true understanding, and returning to the world of our daily experiences to seek therein the truth of beauty. No matter what we may be doing at a given moment, we must not forget that it has bearing on our eternal self which is poetry.”[i]
[i] Matsuo Basho. The Narrow Road to the Deep Morth and Other Travel Sketches. Translated and introduced by Noboyuki Yuasa. (London England, New York, NY, 1966: Penguin Publishing)