6 Lee Karen

Just looking up at the night sky…


I must admit that this week’s reading confused me.

What I can draw from it is that Basho’s poetry exemplifies both change and the unchanging, and are thus timeless. The emotion in his poems is not personal or limited to a single person’s experiences – it is impersonal and open to the senses of all, and thus “selfless” even as it is “self-aware” (Inouye, 77). Today I shall wipe out / The words written in my hat / With the dew of tears (Basho, 155) for instance expresses the loneliness of a traveler who is separating from his long-time companion. While customs change and people no longer write words in their hats as they travel, the emotion itself does not change. The poem is specific to Basho’s experience yet at the same time, is capable of resounding in the hearts of people across time and space. This characteristic of being relatable is what makes Basho’s poems persist.

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