Basho’s Haiku

As I read through 250 of Basho’s haiku as chosen by translator Sam Hamill for Narrow Road to the Interior, I began to realize why I like haibun and haiga.

Simply put, they isolate a haiku from other haiku. And, to be most effective, I think I haiku must stand alone. Read as a group, they tend to lose their effectiveness.

In fact, I think the perfect way to present haiku might be as a screensaver, when a single haiku would show up for a whole day, allowing the reader enough time to really meditate on what has been said.

Alternatively, of course, despite what
might say, haiku might serve as the perfect cross-stichery project.

With that disclaimer, I’ll list a few of may favorite Basho haiku, from Hamill’s selection, keeping in mind that I might well choose entirely different selections if I were to read them later.

This one, makes me long for high mountain ridges still inaccessible because of snow cover:

Your song caresses
the depths of loneliness,
high mountain bird.

as does this one

Traveling this high
mountain trail, delighted
by wild violets.

Of course, anyone who knows my loves would not be surprised to learn that discovering this haiku was worth the price of the entire work: