Fukagawa in poetry: Basho and Fukagawa

Fukagawa in poetry: Basho and Fukagawa

Matsuo Basho (松尾 芭蕉, 1644–1694) was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. He was known for his works in haikai no renga form which was introduced to Basho when he was a servant of Todo Yoshitada. Haikai is a sequence which was written in a verse in 5-7-5 mora format; it was firstly named as hokku and was later changed to haiku. In 1662, Basho published his first poem and became famous at the first time. After Yoshitada’s death in 1665, Basho chose to leave and stop being as a servant anymore.

In 1672, he moved Edo to further his study of poetry. His poetry was quickly recognized for its simple and natural style. In the winter of 1680, he moved across the river to Fukagawa, out of the public eye and towards a more reclusive life.

The great theme in his prose is the journey, a path through nature, time, spiritual reality and one’s life: “ Each day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” He started a journey in the autumn of 1684 which was called Account of Exposure to the Fields(野ざらし紀行, Nozarashi kikō). For the journey he went from Edo to Mount Fuji, Ueno, and Kyoto.

For his whole life, he created many poems. For example, in 1686, he composed one of his famous haiku,Kawazu Awase (Frog Contest).

古池や蛙飛びこむ水の音 furu ike ya / kawazu tobikomu / mizu no oto
an ancient pond / a frog jumps in / the splash of water

And take another example, during his illness, he published his last poem:

旅に病んで夢は枯野をかけ廻るtabi ni yande / yume wa kareno wo / kake meguru
falling sick on a journey / my dream goes wandering / over a field of dried grass




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