6 Zhang, Jiabin

When I walked past Tisch, a flock of geese flew over my head.
Loud honks
Shadows on the ground–
Canadian geese

basho

This week we talked about Matsuo Basho, arguably the most well-known Japanese poet. He is described as a “pre-modern” poet (Inouye, Lecture). The reason why he has been put in a transitional place is that he is both traditional and modern. Basho’s poetry is traditional in that they follow the conventional form, that is, 5-7-5 form while the modernity of his poetry lies in his understanding of sameness between us and our surroundings (Inouye, 79). We are all the same because everything is impermanent. “[M]ountains crumble and rivers disappear, new roads replace the old, stones are buried and vanish in the earth, tree grows old and give way to saplings. Time passes and the world changes”(Basho, 47). However, there is a difference. That is why he believes in the idea of “Zōka zuijun”, or return to the nature/follow Creativity and “butsuga ichinyo” or subject and object are one. Therefore, he felt the need to travel. During the travel, on the one hand, like an ancient poet, Basho record a moment with his emotion. “How awe-inspiring! On the green leaves, the young leaves. The light of the sun”(Basho, 23). On the other hand, he is modern as he wrote, “Today I shall wipe out. The words written in my hat. With the dew of tears” when he parted his friend because he added personal emotion into his poem(Basho, 93).

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