Poetry Review: Haiku by Matsuo Basho

bashoWith the tragedies in Japan this week, my mind has been on Matsuo Basho again. The beauty of his poems lies in his ability to encapsulate perfectly a single moment/thought.

Until this week I had never noticed how much his poems seem like prayers of praise and lamentation. Their humanity and beauty shine through even the roughest of translations.

How Admirable
How admirable!
to see lightning and not think
life is fleeting.

Moonlight slanting
Moonlight slanting
through the bamboo grove;
a cuckoo crying.

This old village
This old village–
not a single house
without persimmon trees.

the cicada’s cry
drills into the rocks.

First Day of Spring
First day of spring–
I keep thinking about
the end of autumn.

Spring Rain
Spring rain
leaking through the roof
dripping from the wasps’ nest.

Cold Night
Cold night: the wild duck,
sick, falls from the sky
and sleeps awhile.

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