Matsuo Basho

Coffee With Basho

Coffee with Basho

When times are tough or when things start to darken your soul, do you have a favourite poem or poet you like to retreat to? The work of Japanese Haiku Master, Basho, provides a bolthole for me on such occasions, and recent events in the UK have led me to revisit his poetry.

In his sketch, The Records of a Travel- Worn Satchel, Basho advocated “all who achieve greatness in art possess one thing in common………. they are one with nature.” He spent his time travelling alone around Japan and getting closer to nature. He found the solitude (shabi) helped to block out distraction and enabled him to find lightness (karumi) and a spirit of poverty (wabi) to write his haiku.

Reading Basho takes you into the heart of nature, blocks out the distractions provided by a world seemingly hell bent on destroying itself. Sometimes the noise from current events provides a disconnect from our reason for being. Reconnecting with Basho has reconnected me with nature. I have experienced again, the feel of wet grass on bare feet, watched bees dancing amongst the lavender, listened to the blackbird announcing the dawn.

Basho’s work reminds us that the awe and simplicity of nature will always shine a light in the darkness.

What poems or poets provide an escape for you? I would love to hear about them.

Why not pop over to the Go Dog Go Café. I’ve taken Basho’s poetry over there and there’s coffee and a café haiku going on.

Poetic Motivations: 45

Poetic Motivations_45

Poetic Motivations:27

poetic-motivations_27

Haiku in Winter

shades-of-winter-1410098-639x462

Picture Credit: Carsten Huels

How did that happen?

It only seemed a moment ago, when I was walking through decaying leaves and pondering the poetic joys of Autumn when Winter arrives.

Here in the UK we have had a colder start to Winter than in past years. Temperatures have reached minus 9 degrees centigrade, in some areas, and snow has fallen in the North of England. It looks like a cold one and I’m happy, as I can hibernate in the poetry den for three months and get ahead with the poetry and writing.

Winter has provided the inspiration for many poets and poems and haiku is a genre of poetry where the theme of Winter is prominent. I have been reading a lot of haiku recently and there are perfect examples of haiku both, traditional and modern, inspired by the winter months.

Three of the masters of the haiku tradition Bashō, Buson and Issa all took inspiration from Winter and reading their work takes you to the heart and moment of the season. This haiku by Bashō (translated by Robert Hass) provides a perfect example.

Winter solitude-
in a world of one colour
the sound of wind.

From a more modern perspective Ruth Yarrow’s haiku captures the childhood joy that

Autumn’s Poetic Joy

highway-new-england-autumn-1332851-639x427

Summer is officially over in the UK.

Writing this blog and looking out of the poetry den window, the leaves and vines on the trees are beginning to lose their summer green and turn yellow. The lavender bushes are in their final bloom and bees are collecting the last remnants of pollen.

Autumn is a wonderful season, cushioning the warmth of summer into the cold of winter. It has influenced many poets and poems. Some of my favourite Autumn poems include, To Autumn by John Keats; Matsuo Basho’s Haiku – Autumn Moonlight and Autumn Journal by Louis MacNeice.

In 2000 I spent three weeks in New England during The Fall. Driving through the woods and forests of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, shrouded in red, brown, yellow and gold is an experience still vivid in my memory. There is something magical about the energy in the autumn transformation that makes you want to pick up a pen and get musing.

Gold and brown leaves fall.
Shadows at dusk lengthen as
A winter sleep nears.

If you want to read more poetry about Autumn, then the site at Famous Poets and Poems has a good selection.

What inspires your poetry in the Autumn months? Do you have a favourite poem describing Autumn?

I would be pleased to read your thoughts.