Apr 23 2021

Matsuo Basho – Skylark

Published by at 8:00 am under Poetry

by Matsuo Basho

English version by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto

sings all day,
and day not long enough.

— from Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter, Translated by Lucien Stryk / Translated by Takashi Ikemoto

/ Image by Chad Horwedel /

A haiku for us today, one that brings me a smile every time I read it.

This is one of those poems where any attempt at commentary feels absurd. What it says is simple and direct, yet it resonates in the mind and the heart. Reading it, I find myself questioning the importance of busy daily activities. On those weary days when I am just ready for the day to be over, have I misspent my day? Have I held back my song?


After a year of pretty good energies, I seem to be dealing with chronic fatigue patterns coming up again. I am always reminded of the need for balance and a clarity of purpose. The more scattered I get and try to accomplish everything at once, the more my system insists that I pause. Our struggles are often our best and most determined teachers…


Today might just be a day to burst forth in song!

Recommended Books: Matsuo Basho

Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry Haiku Enlightenment: New Expanded Edition The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhala Library) The Four Seasons: Japanese Haiku
More Books >>

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 and students gathered 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

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5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Matsuo Basho – Skylark”

  1. Gavriella Velateguion 23 Apr 2021 at 9:57 am

    Hi Ivan, yes, reading haiku is reason to pause and relish its beauty and simplicity.
    I bow to Basho and thank him for his great ability to impart peace and deep reflection through so few words.

    FYI, I used homeopathic medicine years ago to heal chronic fatigue.

    Wishes for all the right ingredients for a full recovery,

    A very appreciative fan, Gavi

  2. Noel Keatingon 23 Apr 2021 at 11:32 am

    Hi Ivan,

    When it’s time to pause, it really is time to pause.

    The work you do is so valuable and gives us all time for pause! Thank you.

    So heed your body and take care of yourself.


  3. Anna M.on 23 Apr 2021 at 12:42 pm

    Dear Ivan,

    ‘the day is not so long enough’
    to talk about Basho!
    Basho is just Basho!


    In latest days, I have stumbled across
    and was impressed by an essay from Jeff Foster.

    “None of us are immune, none of us are protected from “the will of the gods”, and our hubris will be crushed in the end.

    The ego has no hope of controlling the chaos of relative existence.

    Sometimes there are no easy answers. None.

    Sometimes nothing makes sense anymore.

    Sometimes we just have to grieve.

    And rage at the heavens.

    And face the future, bravely, without answers.

    Trust your gut, your intuition, your knowing, your deep heart, my friends – these are the Inner Lights that cannot die.

    “Survival in grief, even eventually building a new life alongside grief, comes with the willingness to bear witness, both to yourself and to the others who find themselves inside this life they didn’t see coming.”
    – Megan Devine

    I think everybody should read the whole essay at his facebook page.

  4. Elaon 23 Apr 2021 at 3:51 pm

    All the birds and nature
    wake up with the rising sun and
    start singing songs of His praise

    Let’s also recognize Him
    The Bestower of Fortunes and
    sing songs of happiness

  5. Mystic Meanderingon 23 Apr 2021 at 11:51 pm

    Oh indeed the bird songs are lovely this time of year, especially in the mornings. They love to sing in the L shape of our house, sounding like a canyon, echoing their songs… It soothes my soul, and the weary mind and body… 🙂 These days are difficult indeed with all the different energies floating about, causing tension in our energetic systems. Each body-mind system reacts in such different ways. I feel the fatigue too – fluctuating from day to day. So much stress to deal with on all levels. May you find the right remedy for you, and the deep rest that the body requires… _/\_

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