Dec 21 2012

Matsuo Basho – awakened

Published by at 9:54 am under Poetry

by Matsuo Basho

English version by Gabriel Rosenstock

      as ice bursts
            the water jar

— from Haiku Enlightenment, by Gabriel Rosenstock

/ Photo by Clearly Ambiguous /

Ooh, I like this haiku. Don’t you?

It’s got sound to it– You can hear the jar crack and burst from the expanding ice.

We’ve got the natural element of water. Water in transformation, becoming ice.

And that very human moment of being startled awake, the transitional space between sleep and wakefulness.

All of that’s just reading this haiku on the most literal, surface level.

We can, if we choose, catch suggestions of enlightenment. Something within is transforming, expanding, bursting its container. The event awakens us.

The Poetry Chaikhana emails will resume after the New Year.

Have a magical Solstice tonight, the turning of the year from darkness back to light. Have a wonderful Christmas (if you celebrate it). And may the new path of the new year bring you new eyes and a renewed heart.

Much love to everyone!

Matsuo Basho, Matsuo Basho poetry, Buddhist poetry Matsuo Basho

Japan (1644 – 1694) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

Basho took his name from the Japanese word for “banana tree.” He was given a gift of a banana tree by a student and the poet immediately identified with it: the way the small tree stood there with its large, soft, fragile leaves. (See his banana plant haiku.)

Basho was probably born in 1644 in Iga Province outside of Kyoto, Japan. His father was a poor samurai-farmer.

As a teenager, Basho entered the service of the local lord, acting as a page. The young lord was only a couple of years older than Basho, and the two became friends, enjoying the playful exchange of haiku verses.

When Basho was still a young man, his friend and lord died. In reaction, Basho left home, abandoned his samurai status, and took to a life of wandering.

After several years, he settled in Edo (Tokyo), continuing to write and publish poetry. His haiku began to attract attention. Students started to gather around him. At about this time, Basho also took up Zen meditation.

Basho remained restless, even in his fame. A neighborhood fire claimed his small house in Edo leaving him homeless, and Basho once again took up the itinerant life, visiting friends and disciples, taking up residence for brief periods only to begin another journey. It was during this time that Basho composed some of his greatest haiku.

Basho returned to Edo in 1691 and died there in 1694.

More poetry by Matsuo Basho

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Matsuo Basho – awakened”

  1. Carleneon 21 Dec 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Merry Christmas, Ivan ! You enrich my life !

  2. Patricia Tayloron 21 Dec 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Ivan, I liked it too…it brought an ironic smile as I was just ending my 20 k ride on a day predicted to be 39 c; not sure but that reads about 105 F.
    It gave me cause to stop and enjoy the sensation of ice and coolness and water dripping. Here in Sth East Australia we will enjoy a much more pleasant day on the 25th with temperatures forecast to be about 23c. We will celebrate Christmas with the focus on family and gratitude, keeping the commercial side low-key.
    Some of us still go to church and some work on the spiritual side through other means. I turned 70 this year and I have so much for which to be grateful; I include you in that, Ivan.

    May all the beauty of the world fill your heart and mind and those of your followers across the seas, and here down under.
    Smiles, Trish

  3. Ruthon 21 Dec 2012 at 4:39 pm

    On the south hemisphere we are celebrating the summer solstice. in Warburton, Victoria, Auustralia, children and tier parents decorate a large redwood in a valley amongst the Australian forest.

    I love Basho. I love the poem. Thank you for all the poems throughout the year.

    May their be joy and love and peace.

  4. Aravindaon 22 Dec 2012 at 4:16 am

    Dear Ivan,

    Thank you for all the great poems you share with us. Happy Christmas to you and have a wonderful year ahead.



  5. Pegon 22 Dec 2012 at 8:01 am

    Thank you Ivan and Merry Christmas to you. This is an important time for me this year and my heart is glad. Be peace! Peg

  6. marrobon 22 Dec 2012 at 10:08 am

    I love Basho’s simply elegant haiku! And what a stunning photo. It’s like a snowflake
    caught on my eyelid to marvel up close at its beauty. For added effect, I have the real ones dancing
    up a storm outside my window here in Montreal.

    I feel delighted to be part of the world-wide Chaikhana Poetry Circle.
    It adds a hallowed halo to the season’s celebrations and we can sure use
    some Aussie sunshine in the north!

    Happy Holidays, Ivan. May 2013 bring renewed good health and inspiration that
    is so deeply appreciated .

    Happy Holidays and good wishes to all.

    May the Solstice Light shine all over the world.

  7. M.C van Wevelingenon 23 Dec 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Hoi, Ivan !!

    [IG:] “The final key
    to the final door
    is finally found within yourself.
    This is the rule.”

    — Into Fields of Evermore —

    I don’t believe in “finite”,
    knowledge goes on and on:
    that’s Why the Buddha stood up,
    left the Bodhi-Tree
    so as to enjoy life !!

    [Tañka, by Shirogitsune.]

    awakened / as ice bursts / the water jar

    Do add the Kañji + Romaji versions as reference !!

    Mariska C. van Wevelingen.

    [PS: should appreciate you better !!]

  8. Yogini Kulkarnion 09 Jan 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Hello Poetry Chaikhana ,

    Why are you not sending poems? We are waiting eagerly for a poem and for a daily thought too.

  9. Ivan M. Grangeron 10 Jan 2013 at 9:03 am

    The poems will resume soon — promise! ~Ivan

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