Matsuo Basho's famous haiku poems
Among the haiku poems, I would like to introduce you the 10 famous examples of his “Sabi” works including “old pond and frog”, “cicada” and his death poem .
- Most famous 10 haiku poems in Japanese and English
- Biography of Matsuo Basho
- Wabi and Sabi, Japanese unique sense of art
The haiku poems are shown in original Japanese 5-7-7 syllables, and translated to English three lines style to realize the meaning.
The Narrow Road to Deep North
草の戸も 住替る代ぞ ひなの家
Kusa no to mo/ Sumikawaru yo zo/ Hina no ie
A owner of the old thatched hut
Is also changed to another
It’s the Doll’s Festival.
*Basho gave his house another before going on a journey. Apparently it seems that the new residents were a family with girls.
行春や 鳥啼き魚の 目は泪
Yuku haru ya/ Tori naki uwo no/ Me wa namida
Spring is passing.
The birds cry, and the fishes’ eyes are
*”Spring is passing” often means an eternal parting. The birds and the fishes mean Basho and his friends.
夏草や 兵どもが 夢の跡
Natsu kusa ya/ Tsuwamono domo ga/ Yume no ato
The summer grasses.
All that remains
Of warriors’ dreams.
*Hiraizumi prospered as the independent country from Japan centered on Kyoto. However in the late Heian Period, the Kamakura government destroyed it.
閑けさや 岩にしみいる 蝉の声
Shizukesa ya/ Iwa ni shimiiru/ Semi no koe
Penetrating the very rock,
A cicada’s voice.
Translated by Helen Craig Mccullough
*The haiku poem at Risshakuji Temple, Yamagata Prefecture.
五月雨を あつめてはやし 最上川
Samidare wo/ Atsumete Hayashi/ Mogamigawa
The rains of summer join together.
How swift it is
Other Basho’s famous haiku poems
物いへば 唇寒し 秋の風
Mono ie ba/ Kuchibiru samushi/ Aki no kaze
When you say something,
The lip feel cold.
The Autumn wind.
*The haiku poem expresses about that people told a bad mouth about someone. It is a rare poetry with self-discipline by Basho.
粽結ふ 片手にはさむ 額髪
Chimaki yu/ Katate ni hasamu/ Hitai gami
While rolling the Chimaki dumpling,
The other hand hold,
*Chimaki: A rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves. Eating at Boys’ Festival
旅に病んで 夢は枯野を かけ廻る
Tabi ni yande/ Yume wa kareno wo/ Kake meguru
Sicking on journey,
My dream run about
A desolate field.
*The last haiku poems of Matsuo Basho. As in the preface of Oku-no Homichi, it is a farewell poem of him who was obsessed by a journey.
More Basho’s haiku poems
Other famous Japanese poets
Other traditional Japanese poetry “Tanka”