Having read nearly 300 pages of Ueda’s Basho and His Interpreters, I find that my favorite poems still tend to be those that are the most concrete and that require the least knowledge of Japanese culture or Japanese literature:

a dragonfly
vainly trying to settle
onto a blade of grass

tonbĂ´ / ya / toritsuki / kaneshi / kusa / no / ue

dragonfly / :/ holding / is-unable / grass / ‘s / upside


In general short verse form, as it evolves with time, tends to focus more and more on things minute and delicate. This hokku shows the beginning of that tendency – Handa

This looks likes simple descriptive poem, and yet it makes us wonder whether Basho’s eyes were not observing something important in the very heart of nature. – Momota

Of course, this poem reminds me a number of summer photographs I took, like this one,


so it’s probably not surprising it’s one of my favorites.