Hosts: Firdaus Parvez and Kala Ramesh
This month we're excited to bring to you excerpts from probably the most famous and iconic book by Basho. It is the beginning of 'haibun' as we know it today. You can find it here
THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH AND OTHER TRAVEL SKETCHES
Translated from the Japanese with an introduction by NOBUYUKI YUASA
These translations first published 1966
Reprinted 1968, 1970
THE RECORDS OF A TRAVEL-WORN SATCHEL
In this mortal frame of mine which is made of a hundred bones and nine orifices there is something, and this something is called a wind-swept spirit for lack of a better name, for it is much like a thin drapery that is torn and swept away at the slightest stir of the wind. This something in me took to writing poetry years ago, merely to amuse itself at first, but finally making it its lifelong business. It must be admitted, however, that there were times when it sank into such dejection that it was almost ready to drop its pursuit, or again times when it was so puffed up with pride that it exulted in vain victories over the others. Indeed, ever since it began to write poetry, it has never found peace with itself, always wavering between doubts of one kind and another. At one time it wanted to gain security by entering the service of a court, and at another it wished to measure the I depth of its ignorance by trying to be a scholar, but it was prevented from either because of its unquenchable love of poetry. The fact is, it knows no other art than the art of writing poetry, and therefore, it hangs on to it more or less blindly.
Saigyo in traditional poetry, Sogi in linked verse, Sesshu in painting, Rikyu in tea ceremony, and indeed all who have achieved real excellence in any art, possess one thing in common, that is, a mind to obey nature, to be one with nature, throughout the four seasons of the year.
Whatever such a mind sees is a flower, and whatever such a mind dreams of is the moon. It is only a barbarous mind that sees other than the flower, merely an animal mind that dreams of other than the moon. The first lesson for the artist is, therefore, to learn how to overcome such barbarism and animality, to follow nature, to be one with nature. It was early in October when the sky was terribly uncertain that I decided to set out on a journey. I could not help feeling vague misgivings about the future of my journey, as I watched the fallen leaves of autumn being carried away by the wind.
From this day forth
I shall be called a wanderer,
Leaving on a journey
Thus among the early showers.
You will again sleep night after night
Nestled among the flowers of sasanqua.
I threw away quite a number of things, for I believed in travelling light. There were certain things, however, I had to carry on my back -such as a raincoat, an overcoat, an inkstone, a brush, writing paper, medicine, a lunch basket -and these constituted quite a load for me. I made such slow progress that I felt deeply depressed as I walked along with faltering steps, giving as much power as I could to my trembling knees.
Tired of walking
I put up at an inn,
By wisteria flowers.
It was in the middle of April when I wandered out to the beach of Suma. The sky was slightly overcast, and the moon on a short night of early summer had special beauty. The mountains were dark with foliage. When I thought it was about time to hear the first voice of the cuckoo, the light of the sun touched the eastern horizon, and as it increased, I began to see on the hills of Ueno ripe ears of wheat tinged with reddish brown and fishermen’s huts scattered here and there among the flowers of white poppy.
At sunrise I saw
Tanned faces of fishermen
Among the flowers
Of white poppy.
Challenge for this week: Can you be "a wanderer" / "a wind-swept spirit" and write about what your heart had always been wanting to write? ******
As always, a good haibun will find its way into the next issue of our fabulous journal. Firdaus and I are eagerly looking forward to reading your haibun.
1. Only two haibun per poet per prompt.
2. Share your best-polished pieces.
3. Please do not post something in a hurry or something you have just written. Let it simmer for a while.
4. When poets give suggestions and if you agree to them - post your final edited version on top of your original version.
5. Don't forget to give feedback on others' poems.
We are delighted to open the comment thread for you to share your unpublished haibun (within 300 words) to be considered for inclusion in the haikuKATHA monthly journal.