Sick on my journey, only my dreams will wander these desolate moors. [Basho?s Death Poem]
When composing a verse let there not be a hair's breath separating your mind from what you write; composition of a poem must be done in an instant, like a woodcutter felling a huge tree or a swordsman leaping at a dangerous enemy.
Even in Kyoto--hearing the cuckoo's cry--I long for Kyoto. A crow has settled on a bare branch-- autumn evening. The crane's legs have gotten shorter in the spring rain. Weathered bones on my mind, a wind-pierced body. This road - no one goes down it, autumn evening. Another year gone--hat in hand, sandals on my feet. The old pond--a frog jumps in sound of water. The winter sun--on the horse's back my frozen shadow. Seeing people off, being seen off-- autumn in Kiso. A cold rain starting and no hat-- so? Singing, flying, singing the cuckoo keeps busy. Visiting the graves--white-haired, leaning on their canes. Midnight frost--I'd borrow the scarecrow's shirt. When the winter chrysanthemums go there's nothing to write about but radishes.
My body, now close to fifty years of age, has become an old tree that bears bitter peaches, a snail which has lost its shell, a bagworm separated from its bag; it drifts with the winds and clouds that know no destination. Morning and night I have eaten traveler's fare, and have held out for alms a pilgrim's wallet.
Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes, and the grass grows, by itself.
When I speak my lips feel cold - the autumn wind.
From all these trees, in the salads, the soup, everywhere, cherry blossoms fall.
Bashō, born Matsuo Kinsaku, then Matsuo Chūemon Munefusa