The Poet’s Spirit


In this poor body, composed of one hundred bones and nine openings, is something called spirit, a flimsy curtain swept this way and that by the slightest breeze. It is spirit, such as it is, which led me to poetry, at first little more than a pastime, then the full business of my life. There have been times when my spirit, so dejected, almost gave up the quest, other times when it was proud, triumphant. So it has been from the very start, never finding peace with itself, always doubting the worth of what it makes.” (Matsuo Bashō, translated by Lucien Stryk)

Matsuo Bashō (Born: 1644 – Died: November 28, 1694)

Bashō, the most famous of the Edo period poets in Japan, is internationally acclaimed today as a master of the haiku. Introduced to poetry at an early age, Bashō became well-known very quickly and was especially noted for his work with the haikai no renga form. A teacher by occupation, he renounced social, urban life and wandered often throughout the country and into the northern wilderness where he found inspiration for his poems.

The dragonfly

can’t quite land

on that blade of grass.


– Matsuo Bashō (Translated by Robert Hass)




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