Friday, 16 July 2010

Foreign Language Friday: On Love and Barley- Haiku of Basho

Dear Blog,

Since today I am
reviewing a book of Basho's
haiku poetry,

I shall write all that
I can in the haiku form.
Fun, but kind of hard.

Name: On Love and Barley- Haiku of Basho
Written by: Matsuo Kinsaku (later known as Matsuo Basho)
Originally Published in: Japanese
Translated by: various people down the centuries, but this edition was done by Lucien Stryk
Summary (from Goodreads): 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.

Review: You may or may not
know that I love haiku-  I
write some myself now

and again.  But I
feel kind of depressed when I
think about how mine

pale compared to the
beauty and simplicity
of Basho's poems.

Basho is the sort of
inspirational person
I wish I could meet.

And why do I like
them so much?  Well, Basho is
master of haiku.

He revived the form-
brought new life to the rules and
strictness of Haiku. 

He often broke
the form
throwing away rules

drifting here
and there.

His poems seem both
disconnected and
full of nature, real;

of Zen Buddhism echoes
through his work; calm and

uncluttered with the
everyday chaos of
normality and

such.  Like you can see
the flower's petals unfold
slowly but surely,

for example.  And
so Basho observes it with

I guess I better
give a few examples of
Basho's haiku.  So:

Together let's eat
shears of wheat
share a grass pillow

Old pond,
a frog.

Come, see real
of this painful world.

No hat, and cold
rain falling-

Wake, butterfly-
it's late, we've miles
to go together.

Summary: Basho is a truly, truly brilliant poet and although it only takes a matter of seconds to read one of his haiku, they stay in your head for ages afterwards and really make you think about the world in a simplistic sort of way. Plus they're short and easy to remember, so read the book a couple of times and impress your friends by reciting half of them off the top of your head. Rating: 5.

Last but not least, the
final poem that Basho
wrote before he died:

Sick on a journey-
over parched fields
dreams wander on.

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