Matsuo Bashō Poems

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) was a renowned Japanese poet during the Edo period, known for his haiku poetry and travel writing. He developed the haiku into a sophisticated form of poetry, using simple language and imagery to evoke profound emotions and insights into nature and life.

Basho’s poetry often focused on the transience and impermanence of existence, and he believed that a true haiku should capture a moment of natural beauty or spiritual awakening.

His most famous work is the Oku no Hosomichi (The Narrow Road to the Deep North), a travelogue that describes his journey through northern Japan and reflects his Zen-influenced philosophy. Basho’s influence on Japanese literature and culture has been significant, and his haiku continue to inspire poets and readers around the world.

The Old Pond

by Matsuo Bashō

‘The Old Pond’ is one of the best-known Japanese haiku of all time. This haiku consists of three phrases that contain the syllable count of 5-7-5.

Matsuo Bashō is considered one of the most important poets of the Edo period in Japan, and his contributions to haiku poetry have earned him a place among the greatest literary figures in Japanese history. His poetry often focused on the beauty of the natural world, and he sought to capture the essence of life and the changing seasons in just a few words. 'The Old Pond' is one of Bashō's most famous poems, and it is a wonderful example of his ability to use simple language to convey complex emotions.

Old pond...

a frog jumps in

water's sound

Autumn moonlight

by Matsuo Bashō

‘Autumn moonlight’ by Matsuo Bashō is a traditional haiku that’s beautiful written about the seasons. This translation was done by Robert Hass.

Matsuo Basho was a Japanese poet who is widely regarded as one of the greatest masters of the haiku form. His works, including 'Autumn moonlight,' capture the beauty and simplicity of nature. While 'Autumn moonlight' is not his best-known poem, it is a wonderful example of his verse and certainly one of the best haiku in Japanese history. This poem, like many of Bashō's other poems, continues to influence generations of poets and writers, both in Japan and around the world.

Autumn moonlight--

a worm digs silently

into the chestnut.

In Kyoto

by Matsuo Bashō

‘In Kyoto’ by Matsuo Bashō expresses a deep sense of longing and nostalgia for the city of Kyoto through a 3-line haiku.

Matsuo Basho is one of the most celebrated poets of Japanese literature, known for his haiku poems that capture the essence of nature and human experience in a simple yet profound way. 'In Kyoto' is a perfect example of his ability to use sensory detail and literary devices to evoke complex emotions and ideas in just a few words.

In Kyoto,

hearing the cuckoo,

I long for Kyoto.

The shallows

by Matsuo Bashō

‘The shallows’ by Matsuo Bashō  is a beautiful, traditional haiku about a crane landing in cool, shallow water and the ripples it makes. 

This poem is considered to be a very good example of Matsuo Bashō's poetry. Bashō is especially renowned for his haiku poetry, which is celebrated for its simplicity, elegance, and profound insights into the natural world. 'The shallows' is a perfect example of his mastery of haiku, as it captures a moment in nature with striking imagery and a sense of quiet beauty.

The shallows –

a crane’s thighs splashed

in cool waves

In the twilight rain

by Matsuo Bashō

‘In the twilight rain’ by Matsuo Bashō is a beautiful 3-line haiku that juxtaposes an evening rain with a bright hibiscus flower. 

Bashō's poems, like this one, often use vivid imagery and symbolic language to create a powerful and evocative portrayal of nature and the human experience. His ability to capture the beauty and meaning in seemingly mundane moments has made his work enduringly popular. This poem may not be his best-known but should be regarded as one of his most beautiful haiku.

In the twilight rain

these brilliant-hued hibiscus . . .

A lovely sunset

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