Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,
Welcome at the first episode of December 2015. This month we will walk the narrow road to the deep north together with Matsuo Basho. As I have promised I will bring all the 50 haiku from "The Narrow Road Into The Deep North" this month, so for starters I have the first three haiku of this world famous haibun by Basho for you all and for your inspiration. I also will try to bring Basho's world alive again ... through telling you all a little bit more about the places Basho visits in his haibun.
By the way all haiku within the episode are by Matsuo Basho in a translation by Jane Reichhold.
There are a great number of the ancients, too, who died on the road. I myself have been tempted for a long time by the cloud-moving wind- filled with a strong desire to wander. It was only toward the end of last autumn that I returned from rambling along the coast. I barely had time to sweep the cobwebs from my broken house on the River Sumida before the New Year, but no sooner had the spring mist begun to rise over the field than I wanted to be on the road again to cross the barrier-gate of Shirakawa in due time. The gods seem to have possessed my soul and turned it inside out, and the roadside images seemed to invite me from every corner, so that it was impossible for me to stay idle at home.
Even while I was getting ready, mending my torn trousers, tying a new strap to my hat, and applying moxa to my legs to strengthen them, I was already dreaming of the full moon rising over the islands of Matsushima. Finally, I sold my house, moving to the cottage of Sampu, for a temporary stay. Upon the threshold of my old home, however, I wrote a linked verse of eight pieces and hung it on a wooden pillar.
the resident changes for a time
a house of dolls
|Credits: Cherry Blossoms in Yanaka|
birds cry and in the fishes'
eyes are tears
|Credits: The shrine of Muro no Yashima|
|Credits: Mount Nikko Shirane|
On the first day of April, I climbed Mt. Nikko to do homage to the holiest of the shrines upon it. This mountain used to be called Niko. When the high priest Kukai built a temple upon it, however, he changed the name to Nikko, which means the bright beams of the sun. Kukai must have had the power to see a thousand years into the future, for the mountain is now the seat of the most sacred of all shrines, and its benevolent power prevails throughout the land, embracing the entire people, like the bright beams of the sun. To say more about the shrine would be to violate its holiness.
young green leaves
flash in the sun
I wonder how would it be to really live in his time and see the beauty of ancient Japan? Of course I can imagine that, but ... well it would be awesome to walk in his footsteps for real. I hope to bring that feeling into this month's episodes.
Several years ago, and I think I have told you this earlier, I read "Narrow Road" and wrote my own "Narrow Road" inspired by Basho's famous haibun and this was my first haiku which I wrote after the preface of my own narrow road:
the last night
I couldn't sleep -
a Nightingale sings
a farewell verse
scribbled on a receipt
don't forget me
This last haiku I used also in one of my novels I wrote several years ago.
As you all know these episodes are to inspire you to write all new haiku. Of course no obligations this month to follow the spirit of Basho, but it would (of course) be great to read all new haiku inspired on "Narrow Road", which can be seen as Basho's path to enlightenment ... this famous haibun has a very deep spiritual meaning and I hope to bring that spiritual meaning to life also.
This episode (published a little bit later than planned) is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until December 4th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our new episode, a new episode of Haiku Writing Techniques, later on.