Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Matsuo Bashō, born Matsuo Kinsaku, then Matsuo Chūemon Munefusa

Japanese Haiku Poet, Zen Monk

"Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought."

"Go to the pine if you want to learn about the pine, or to the bamboo if you want to learn about the bamboo. And in so doing you must let go of your subjective preoccupation with yourself.... Your poetry arises by itself when you and the object become one."

"Learn the rules well, and then forget them."

"Learn about a pine tree from a pine tree, and about a bamboo plant from a bamboo plant."

"Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home."

"The temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers."

"There is nothing you can see that is not a flower; There is nothing you can think that is not the moon."

"On my travels, stricken— my dreams over the dry land go on roving."

"The summer grasses: of mighty warlords' visions all that they have left."

"Friends part forever -- wild geese lost in cloud."

"A bee staggers out of the peony."

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

"A cuckoo cries and through a thicket of bamboo the late moon shines."

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

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

"A man, infirm with age, slowly sucks a fish bone."

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

"A strange flower for birds and butterflies; the autumn sky."

"A wild seaiIn the distance over Sado; the Milky Way."

"All who have achieved excellence in art possess one thing in common; that is, a mind to be one with nature, throughout the seasons."

"An old pond? a frog tumbles in? the sound of water."

"April's air stirs in willow-leaves...a butterfly floats and balances."

"Around existence twine, (Oh, bridge that hangs across the gorge!) ropes of twisted vine."

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

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

"Awakened at midnight by the sound of the water jar cracking from the ice."

"Ballet in the air... Twin butterflies until, twice white they meet, they mate."

"Between our two lives there is also the life of the cherry blossom."

"Bird of time ? in Kyoto, pining for Kyoto."

"Breaking the silence of an ancient pond, a frog jumped into water ? a deep resonance."

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

"Bush-clover flowers ?they sway but do not drop their beads of dew."

"But for a woodpecker tapping at a post, no sound at all in the house."

"Chilling autumn rains curtain Mount Fuji, then make it more beautiful to see."

"Clapping my hands with the echoes the summer moon begins to dawn."

"Clouds -a chance to dodge moon-viewing."

"Clouds now and again give a soul some respite from moon-gazing?behold."

"Cold as it was we felt secure sleeping together in the same room."

"Come, butterfly, it's late- we've miles to go together."

"Come, see the true flowers of this pained world."

"Cooling, so cooling, with a wall against my feet, midday sleep?behold."

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

"Crossing long fields, frozen in its saddle, my shadow creeps by."

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

"Eaten alive by lice and fleas -- now the horse beside my pillow pees."

"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."

"From all these trees, in the salads, the soup, everywhere, cherry blossoms fall."

"Go to the object. Leave your subjective preoccupation with yourself. Do not impose yourself on the object. Become one with the object. Plunge deep enough into the object to see something like a hidden glimmering there."

"Harvest moon: around the pond I wander and the night is gone."

"He who creates three to five haiku poems during a lifetime is a haiku poet. He who attains to completes ten is a master."