Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Carpe Diem "Sparkling Stars"#17, Basho's "door of grass"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As you all could have read I hadn't time to publish our new "Sparkling Stars" episode last Saturday, so here it is ... sorry for the delay... (smiles).In this episode of our “Sparkling Stars” feature, I will tell you about the first verse which Basho recorded for his haibun 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North'. This haibun by Basho has become a classic piece of literature and I think there are a lot of people who know this haibun.

As you all know this “Sparkling Stars” feature is meant for introducing haiku of known and un-known, classical and non-classical, haiku poets. I hope to inspire you to write an all new haiku in response of this “Sparkling Stars”-episode.

"Narrow Road"
Basho had a lot of friends and disciples at the time that he went on his journey to the far north. They all had come to visit him and to say goodbye. many of them had presents and gifts for Basho. Things he could use on his journey.
They accompanied him on the first two or three Japanese miles, say the first 10 km. When he went off he wrote:

kusa no to mo   sumi kawara yo zo   hina no ie
this door of grass
the resident changes for a time
a house of dolls

© Basho
When Basho left his Banana tree cottage, he turned it over to Heiemon, who was married with a family. Thus, already, in Basho's bachelor quarters was the red ramp put up for the festival of the dolls for the girls of the family.

Basho and his good friend and student Sora left in this journey on May 16th. This verse fits with Basho's first sentence of the book: 'The months and days are the passing guests of a hundred generations, and the years that come and go are travelers, also'.
Several years ago I wrote my own version of 'The Journey to the Far North'. The first verse I wrote for 'My Narrow Road' (after the preface) was:
the last night
I couldn't sleep -
a Nightingale sings

© Chèvrefeuille

followed by a verse with farewell words:
a farewell verse
scribbled on a receipt
don't forget me

© Chèvrefeuille

(*) This haiku I used in one of my novels which I have written.

I wonder ... these are for sure haiku in the Spirit of Chèvrefeuille :), but are they in the spirit of Basho?

This episode will be open for your submissions today at noon (CET) and will remain open until February 14th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our next bi-weekly feature “Little Creatures” Saturday February 10th. For now … have fun, be inspired and share your haiku with us all.


  1. I think they are both - not only in the Spirit of Chèvrefeuille but also of Basho. Really exceptional!

    1. I concur with this. The second one in particular !

    This is my entry. Loved the given haikus.

  3. Narrow Road....part of the classics

  4. I really like your last haiku here - so contemporary but so much in the spirit of Basho.

  5. I really like this haiku of Basho's - it seems a bit more abstract than most of his, and I like how that makes it slightly tricky to follow until you reach the end. I also like the fact that he started his journey on my birthday :-)

    1. This haiku by Basho is the starting verse of his "Journey to the Deep North" haibun and the image he paints in it is about Doll's Festival, or Girls Festival in which children (and adults) are exposing their puppets in the shape of the Imperial Court.This haiku is one of my favorites.