Category: Haiku

Basho: Lifeline

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 … Read the rest

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Saigyo

The image of the traveling monk-poet, going from village to village and spending endless hours alone in the mountains composing poetry, has been common in the East for hundreds of years. This image was later popularized in the West by such writers as Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Allen Read the rest

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Issa

Of the three master haiku poets, Issa is perhaps the most beloved. He has been characterized as an ancient Whitman or Neruda or Burns. His poetry can be lively and humorous, pious and honest, or sarcastic and full of rage. He wrote thousands of poems in his life, and many … Read the rest

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Buson

Following Basho, the next master haiku poet of ancient Japan was Yosa Buson. Buson, however, was much more than a master haiku poet; he also was a distinguished painter. And in his haiku, this comes across through a visual intensity and a love for color.

A tethered horse,
snow

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Basho

“There came a day when the clouds drifting along with the wind aroused a wanderlust in me, and I set off on a journey to roam along the seashores.”
– Basho
Prologue to Narrow Road to a Far Province
1689

In the early centuries of Japanese history, there was a … Read the rest

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A Brief History of Haiku

During the Heian period of Japanese culture (700-1100), it was a social requirement to be able to instantly recognize, appreciate and recite Japanese and Chinese poetry. It was around this period that short forms of poetry (tanka) grew in popularity over long forms of poetry (choka). The rigid lifestyles of … Read the rest

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