Basho: Lifeline

Eastern Haiku Nature Poetry


1644
Haiku poet Basho born in Ueno, 30 miles southeast of Kyoto

1656
Enters into the service a local feudal lord; begins composing haikai

1666
Left the feudal family and disappeared for five years, taking on the name Sobo

1667-71
His worked appeared in numerous anthologies; many believe he was in Kyoto studying poetry and Zen

1672
Published "The Seashell Game", which was the record of a haiku contest he supervised

1675
Began taking on students

1676
Published "Two Poets of Edo (Tokyo)" with another poet

1676-70
Worked as a minor official in the waterworks department

1677
Published "Three Poets in Edo"

1678
At the age of 34, was recognized as a master and a group began to form around him

1679
Began to deepen his studies of Chinese poetry; shaved his head and became a lay monk

1680
Withdrew from public life, moving to a modest gamekeeper's hut; it was here that he was given a large banana tree (a basho tree), which became the name he is best known by

1683
A tremendous fire destroyed much of Edo and Basho's home

1684
His students rebuilt his home; began the travels that occupied the rest of his life; his mother died

1685
His travel journal, "Journal of Weather-beaten Skeleton" was published

1686
Returned to his home in Edo

1687
Set out on another trip which resulted in "Notes in My Knapsack" (also known as "The Records of a Travel-worn Satchel") and "A Visit to Kashima Shrine"

1689
At 45, sold his home and journeyed north; created his masterpiece "Narrow Road to the Far North"

1689-90
Began developing the c0ncept of "sabi", solitariness and loneliness that results in lightness and intense concentration

1691
Returned to Edo

1693
His health began failing him; introduced a new poetic ideal called "karumi" which he described as "like looking at a shallow river with a sandy bed"

1693 November
Basho died; his death poem:
Sick on a journey,
my dreams wander
the withered fields
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