Poetry by Basho

A bee
A bee
staggers out
of the peony.

Matsuo Basho

A caterpillar
A caterpillar,
this deep in fall
still not a butterfly.

Matsuo Basho

A cicada shell
A cicada shell;
it sang itself
utterly away.

Matsuo Basho

A cool fall night
At a hermitage:
A cool fall night
getting dinner, we peeled
eggplants, cucumbers.

Matsuo Basho

A field of cotton
A field of cotton
as if the moon
had flowered.

Matsuo Basho

A monk sips morning tea
A monk sips morning tea,
it’s quiet,
the chrysanthemum’s flowering.

Matsuo Basho

A snowy morning
A snowy morning
by myself,
chewing on dried salmon.

Matsuo Basho

Autumn moonlight
Autumn moonlight
a worm digs silently
into the chestnut.

Matsuo Basho

Awake at night
Awake at night
the sound of the water jar
cracking in the cold.

Matsuo Basho

Bitter–tasting ice
Bitter–tasting ice
Just enough to wet the throat
Of a sewer rat.
Matsuo Basho

Blowing stones
Blowing stones
along the road on Mount Asama,
the autumn wind.

Matsuo Basho

Bush warbler
Bush warbler:
shits on the rice cakes
on the porch rail.

Matsuo Basho

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

Matsuo Basho

Coolness of the melons
Coolness of the melons
flecked with mud
in the morning dew.

Matsuo Basho

Don’t imitate me
Don’t imitate me;
it’s as boring
as the two halves of a melon.

Matsuo Basho

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

Matsuo Basho

First snow
First snow
falling
on the half-finished bridge.

Matsuo Basho

First winter rain
First winter rain
even the monkey
seems to want a raincoat.

Matsuo Basho

Fleas, lice
Fleas, lice,
a horse peeing
near my pillow.

Matsuo Basho

Heat waves shimmering
Heat waves shimmering
one or two inches
above the dead grass.

Matsuo Basho

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

Matsuo Basho

In this world of ours
In this world of ours,
We eat only to cast out
Sleep only to wake
And what comes after all that
Is simply to die at last.

Matsuo Basho

Midfield
Midfield,
attached to nothing,
the skylark singing.

Matsuo Basho

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

Matsuo Basho

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

Matsuo Basho

Staying at an inn
Staying at an inn
where prostitutes are also sleeping
bush clover and the moon.

Matsuo Basho

Stillness
Stillness
the cicada’s cry
drills into the rocks.

Matsuo Basho

Taking a nap
Taking a nap
feet planted
against a cool wall.

Matsuo Basho

Teeth sensitive to the sand
Teeth sensitive to the sand
in salad greens
I’m getting old.

Matsuo Basho

The dragonfly
The dragonfly
can’t quite land
on that blade of grass.

Matsuo Basho

The morning glory also
The morning glory also
turns out
not to be my friend.

Matsuo Basho

The oak tree
The oak tree:
not interested
in cherry blossoms.

Matsuo Basho

The old pond
An old pond
a frog leaps in
the sound of water

Matsuo Basho

The squid seller’s call
The squid seller’s call
mingles with the voice
of the cuckoo.

Matsuo Basho

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

Matsuo Basho

What fish feel
What fish feel
birds feel, I don’t know
the year ending.

Matsuo Basho

When the winter chrysanthemums go
When the winter chrysanthemums go
there’s nothing to write about
but radishes.

Matsuo Basho

Winter garden
Winter garden
the moon thinned to a thread,
insects singing.

Matsuo Basho

Winter solitude
Winter solitude
in a world of one color
the sound of wind.

Matsuo Basho

Wrapping the rice cakes
Wrapping the rice cakes
with one hand
she fingers back her hair.

Matsuo Basho