The Best of Basho

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]

One comment on “The Best of Basho

Legens, scribe sententias tuas.

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