Other books byMatsuo Basho
A Zen Wave
Basho's Haiku and Zen
Zen Buddhism distinguishes itself by brilliant flashes of insight and its terseness of expression. The haiku verse form is a superb means of studying Zen modes of thought and expression, for its seventeen syllables impose a rigorous limitation that confines the poet to vital experience. Here haiku by Bashõ are translated by Robert Aitken, with commentary that provides a new and far deeper understanding of Bashõ’s work than ever before. In presenting themes from the haiku and from Zen literature that open the doors both to the poems and to Zen itself, Aitken has produced the first book about the relationship between Zen and haiku. His readers are certain to find it invaluable for the remarkable revelations it offers.
A Haiku Journey
Bashos Narrow Road to a Far Province
In the seventeenth century, the pilgrim-poet Basho undertook on foot a difficult and perilous journey to the remote northeastern provinces of Honshu, Japan's main island. Throughout the five-month journey, the master of haiku kept a record of his impressions in a prose-poetry diary later called The Narrow Road to a Far Province. His diary was to become one of the classics of Japanese literature. Noted professor of Japanese literature J. Thomas Rimer wrote of this classic: "In his diary, which Basho kept reworking and revising until his death, he mixed fact, fiction, poetry, and prose to create the record of a journey that moves both geographically and spiritually, one strand mixing with the other on virtually every page. Read and reread with care, The Narrow Road to a Far Province can reveal more qualities still basic to Japanese cultural attitudes than perhaps any other work in the whole canon of classical literature. For once, the highest of reputations is truly deserved." This new edition is illustrated with sumi-e ink sketches by Japanese artist Shiro Tsujimura.
Narrow Road to the Interior
And Other Writings
Here is the most complete single-volume collection of the writings of one of the great luminaries of Asian literature. Basho (16441694)—who elevated the haiku to an art form of utter simplicity and intense spiritual beauty—is best known in the West as the author of Narrow Road to the Interior, a travel diary of linked prose and haiku that recounts his journey through the far northern provinces of Japan. This volume includes a masterful translation of this celebrated work along with three other less well-known but important works by Basho: Travelogue of Weather-Beaten Bones, The Knapsack Notebook, and Sarashina Travelogue. There is also a selection of over two hundred fifty of Basho's finest haiku. In addition, the translator has provided an introduction detailing Basho's life and work and an essay on the art of haiku.
On Love and Barley
Haiku of Basho
Basho, one of the greatest of Japanese poets and the master of haiku, was also a Buddhist monk and a life-long traveller. His poems combine karumi, or lightness of touch, with the Zen ideal of oneness with creation. Each poem evokes the natural world - the cherry blossom, the leaping frog, the summer moon or the winter snow - suggesting the smallness of human life in comparison to the vastness and drama of nature. Basho himself enjoyed solitude and a life free from possessions, and his haiku are the work of an observant eye and a meditative mind, uncluttered by materialism and alive to the beauty of the world around him.