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7/16/2017 Matsuo Basho

Matsuo Basho

Matsuo Bash ( ?, 1644 1694), born as Matsuo Chemon Munefusa, was the most
famous poet and essayist of the Edo Period in Japan (1603 - 1867). Perhaps the precursor to
our modern-day "poetry slam," Basho developed a collaborative linked verse poetic form called
"haikai no renga (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renku)" (also called "renku") in which poets took
turns delivering alternative verses extemporaneously. The form was often quite vulgar and witty
before its more polite form evolved into what came to be called "Basho Hokku" or simply "haiku."
Talk about quick-witted linguistic artists-- the poets came up with alternating 17 or 14 syllables,
one right after the other. To this day, Basho is considered the greatest master of the haiku poetry
form.

Basho's father was a low-level samurai. At a young age, Basho gained a reputation among
prestigious intellectuals by studying and writing poetry in Edo (modern-day Tokyo). In 1674 he
was inducted into the inner circle of the haikai profession, and he had a prestigious teaching
assignment with twenty disciples. In 1680 they published The Best Poems of Tsei's Twenty
Disciples. After receiving such acclaim, Basho renounced urban and intellectual life to wander
the countryside, traveling to the remote northern wilderness. His work reflects his experiences in nature, where he concentrates on a
few simple elements, using the exact number of syllables, or "morae (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mora_(linguistics))," much to the
delight of his readers.

American Literature is pleased to add Matsuo


Basho's Japanese folktale, The Aged Mother
(https://americanliterature.com/author/matsuo-
basho/short-story/the-aged-mother), and poems from
his collection, Complete Basho Haiku in Japanese
which include: On a whithered branch
(https://americanliterature.com/author/matsuo-
basho/poem/on-a-whithered-branch) (1680), Frog
Poem (https://americanliterature.com/author/matsuo-
basho/poem/frog-poem) (1681), Tis the first snow
(https://americanliterature.com/author/matsuo-
basho/poem/tis-the-first-snow) (1686), and The cry
of the cicada
(https://americanliterature.com/author/matsuo-
basho/poem/the-cry-of-the-cicada) (1690) to our collection. May his skilled verse inspire you to create your own haiku -- or, if you are
up for the linguistic challenge, host a "haikai no renga" poetry-slam.

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7/16/2017 Matsuo Basho

Instant Grammar 75 Short-Short Stories Every Story is a An ancient pond...


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Short Stories
The Aged Mother (/author/matsuo-basho/short-story/the-aged-
mother)

Poems
An ancient pond... (/author/matsuo-basho/poem/an-ancient-pond)
Clouds will separate us (/author/matsuo-basho/poem/clouds-will-
separate-us)
Frog Poem (/author/matsuo-basho/poem/frog-poem)
I come weary (/author/matsuo-basho/poem/i-come-weary)
On a whithered branch (/author/matsuo-basho/poem/on-a-
whithered-branch)
Piping autumn wind (/author/matsuo-basho/poem/piping-autumn-
wind)
Soon they have to die (/author/matsuo-basho/poem/soon-they-
have-to-die)
Spider, say again (/author/matsuo-basho/poem/spider-say-again)
The cry of the cicada (/author/matsuo-basho/poem/the-cry-of-the-
cicada)
Tis the first snow (/author/matsuo-basho/poem/tis-the-first-snow)
Twas the new moon (/author/matsuo-basho/poem/twas-the-new-
moon)

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7/16/2017 Matsuo Basho

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