NaPoWriMo Day 14

puddle janrae on pixabay haiga

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to contemplate our “inspirations and forebears.” In the art of haiku, the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho is widely viewed as the original master, inspiration and forebear.

In 1686, he wrote a haiku that became instantly famous, and remains so to this day. It has been variously translated, but this seems to be an accepted version:

the old pond
a frog jumps in
the sound of water

Some translations have the last line as “the splash of water” or even “plop!” which I actually like best, because it makes me smile.

Basho’s ability to capture a single moment was brilliant and distinctive. His twin talents of writing and teaching drew people in. At his cottage, he hosted contests and renga gatherings–poetry parties (yes, poetry parties!) held for the purpose of writing collaborative, linked poems.

He took long journeys, walking hundreds of miles on four separate trips over the last ten years of his life, either alone or with a student/apprentice. In one of his travel journals, “The Records of a Travel-Worn Satchel,” he wrote that his mind “knows no other art than the art of writing poetry, and therefore, hangs on to it more or less blindly.”

As he grew older he grew more frail and reclusive. (I can relate to that.) After his last journey, he wrote:

falling sick on a journey
my dream goes wandering
over a field of dried grass

My photo haiga is intended to reflect the spirit of these two haiku of the master Basho, albeit updated, in my own voice and reflecting on my own life. I hope I have succeeded in paying homage.

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Image by janrye from Pixabay

This artist has many photographs and masterful artistic manipulations posted on Pixabay. Click on his name to see them all.

Basho’s Frog and Simon’s Cat

In 1686, the great poet Matsuo Basho wrote a hokku (haiku) that became instantly famous, and remains so to this day. It has been variously translated, but this seems to be an accepted version:

the old pond

a frog jumps in

the sound of water

Some translations have the last line as “the splash of water” or even “plop!” which I actually like best, because it makes me smile.

I couldn’t help but think of Basho’s frog when I saw this cartoon by Simon Tofield, and so I have written a haiku for Simon’s Cat:

cluttered back yard

a frog peeks out

the pouncing cat

A Labor of Haiku

old paper and quill

In honor of Labor Day, I thought I would take a look at the labors of a great poet. Yes, poets work, too!

The Japanese poet, Matsuo Basho, had a couple of “day jobs.” He was born into a family of samurai circa 1644. Obligated to serve, he did so until his feudal master’s death. He relocated to Edo (now Tokyo) at 29 and spent several years in a physically demanding job to earn a living. During his first few years in Edo, he wrote and published a volume of poetry in the classical style of the day. But he really developed his unique style after 1680, when one of his wealthier admirers provided him with free living quarters, a cottage in Fukugawa. This allowed him to devote more time to his work as a poet.

His ability to capture a single moment, the crystallization of nature and emotion in time, was brilliant and distinctive. His twin talents of writing and teaching drew people in. At his cottage, he hosted contests and renga gatherings–poetry parties (yes, poetry parties!) held for the purpose of writing collaborative, linked poems.

He took long journeys, walking hundreds of miles on four separate trips over the last ten years of his life, either alone or with a student/apprentice. In one of his travel journals, “The Records of a Travel-Worn Satchel,” he wrote that his mind “knows no other art than the art of writing poetry, and therefore, hangs on to it more or less blindly.”

As he grew older he grew more frail and reclusive. (I can relate to that.) After his last journey, he wrote:

falling sick on a journey

my dream goes wandering

over a field of dried grass

Basho’s life was not long (50 years), but it was filled with both work and wonder. I hope yours is, too. Happy Labor Day!