Matsuo Bashō

松尾芭蕉 - Matsuo Bashō

Matsuo Bashō 松尾芭蕉 (1644 - 28 November 1694) Japanese poet; his name has also sometimes been rendered as Matuo Basyou or Matuwo Baseu, but he is usually called simply Bashō.


  • The haiku that reveals seventy to eighty percent of its subject is good.Those that reveal fifty to sixty percent,we never tire of.
  • All who have achieved excellence in art possess one thing in common;that is,a mind to be one with nature,throughout the seasons.


  • 朝顔に
  • 京にても
    • Kyou nitemo
      kyou natsukashi ya
    • Even in Kyoto
      hearing the cuckoo's cry
      I long for Kyoto.
    • Translation: Robert Hass
  • 古池や
    • furu ike ya
      kawazu tobikomu
      mizu no oto
    • An old pond;
      A frog jumps in —
      The sound of water.
    • at the ancient pond
      the frog plunges into
      the sound of water
      (Translation: Sam Hamill)
  • The first cold shower;
    Even the monkey seems to want
    A little coat of straw.
  • 旅に病で
    • tabi ni yande
      yume wa kareno wo
    • Sick on a journey,
      my dreams wander
      the withered fields.
    • Basho's last poem, written while he was dying of a stomach illness; (Translation: Robert Hass)
    • Variant translation:
      Travelling, sick
      My dreams roam
      On a withered moor.
  • 静けさや
    • shizukesaya
      iwa ni shimiiru
      semi no koe
    • How still it is!
      Stinging into the stones,
      The locusts' trill.
    • World Within Walls, pg 89


  • Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
  • 見るところ花にあらずと云ふことなし、
    • Miru tokoro hana ni arazu to iu koto nashi,
      omou tokoro tsuki ni arazu to iu koto nashi
    • There is nothing you can see that is not a flower;
      There is nothing you can think that is not the moon.
      • Translation: R. H. Blyth
  • 古人の跡を求めず、
    • kojin no ato wo motomezu,
      kojin no motometaru no tokoro wo motome yo
    • Seek not the paths of the ancients;
      Seek that which the ancients sought.
      • from 「柴門の辞」"Words by a Brushwood Gate" (also translated as "The Rustic Gate")
  • It rains during the morning. No visitors today. I feel lonely and amuse myself by writing at random. These are the words:
    Who mourns makes grief his master.
    Who drinks makes pleasure his master.
  • The fact that Saigyo composed a poem that begins, "I shall be unhappy without loneliness," shows that he made loneliness his master.
  • Sabi is the color of the poem. It does not necessarily refer to the poem that describes a lonely scene. If a man goes to war wearing stout armor or to a party dressed up in gay clothes, and if this man happens to be an old man, there is something lonely about him. Sabi is something like that.
  • "My body, now close to fifty years of age, has become an old tree that bears bitter peaches, a snail which has lost its shell, a bagworm separated from its bag; it drifts with the winds and clouds that know no destination. Morning and night I have eaten traveler's fare, and have held out for alms a pilgrim's wallet."
    • Genjūan no Fu ("Prose Poem on the Unreal Dwelling"; quoted from Donald Keene's Anthology of Japanese Literature, pg 374)

External links

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Matsuo Bashō
Last modified on 18 September 2008, at 23:40