The time seems ripe to take a break from my little series on prayer. I wonder how many of my dear readers were even able to read through the last article? So, here’s some incredibly amusing haiku from the famous poet Basho (1644-1694). Usually, we think of haiku as abstruse, pithy poems containing a good insight or a beautiful image, which often fail to reach the sublime in amusing ways. Here, I have no doubt that Basho meant these to provoke laughter, probably in order to prevent readers from falling asleep midway through one of his volumes of poetry. Enjoy!
A snowy morning–/by myself/Chewing on dried salmon.
As for the hibiscus/on the roadside–/My horse ate it.
Many nights on the road/and not dead yet–/the end of autumn.
Clear water–/a tiny crab/crawling up my leg.
The jars of octopus–/brief dreams/under the summer moon.
In the fish shop/the gums of the salt-bream/look cold.
Year after year/on the monkey’s face/a monkey’s face.
A fishy smell–/perch guts/in the water weeds.
My summer robes–/there are still some lice/I haven’t caught.
Fleas, lice,/a horse peeing/near my pillow.
The dragonfly/can’t quite land/on that blade of grass.
A group of them/gazing at the moon,/not one face beautiful.
Teeth sensitive to sand/in the salad greens–/I’m getting old.
Still alive/and frozen in one lump–/the sea slugs.
The morning glory also/turns out/not to be my friend.
Having no talent,/I just want to sleep,/you noisy birds.
These days/summer underwear brings comfort–/the fourth moon. [Actually from a friend of Basho’s named Shohaku]