Mercury Day poetry: A few gems from Basho

One minor change in the daily routine since returning from India is trying to limit the garbage that goes in my brain (knowing that it means there will just be garbage coming out). So rather than go anywhere near a computer as I drink my pre-practice coffee, I’m just sitting quietly. Maybe meditating. Well, maybe trying to get to the point that I’m getting close to meditating.

We’ll see when that comes.

But it has reminded me of the generosity of stillness. I don’t get a lot of that normally. And it also reminded me that I used to enjoy a version of that stillness in simple haikus. So here are a few by Basho. These are all as translated by former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, who is well worth looking up when you have a chance.

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

Autumn moonlight–
a worm digs silently
into the chestnut.

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

old pond…..
a frog leaps in
water’s sound

And maybe the best:

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

Posted by Steve

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