Best 10 famous Matsuo Basho’s haiku poems in English and Japanese

(Last Updated On: 16/02/2020)

Portrait of Matsuo Basho from “Hokusai Manga”, by Katsushika Hokusai

 

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) made about 1000 haiku poems through the lifetime, traveling around Japan. His writing “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” is the most famous haiku collection in Japan.

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 .

Related Post

The haiku poems are shown in original Japanese 5-7-7 syllables, and translated to English three lines style to realize the meaning.




Other famous haiku poets

The Narrow Road to Deep North

1.

<Japanese>

草の戸も 住替る代ぞ ひなの家

Kusa no to mo/ Sumikawaru yo zo/ Hina no ie

<English>

A owner of the old thatched hut

Has been also 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.

2.

<Japanese>

行春や 鳥啼き魚の 目は泪

Yuku haru ya/ Tori naki uwo no/ Me ha namida

<English>

Spring is passing.

The birds cry, and the fishes’ eyes are 

With tears.

*”Spring is passing” often means an eternal parting. The birds and the fishes mean Basho and his friends.

3.

<Japanese>

夏草や 兵どもが 夢の跡

Natsukusa ya/ Tsuwamonodomo ga/ Yume no ato

<English>

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.

4.

<Japanese>

五月雨の 降のこしてや 光堂

Samidare no/ Furinokosite ya/ Hikari-do

<English>

The early summer rain

Fall and fall yet

Leave untouched Hikari-do Hall.

*Hikari-do: Konjikido. One of the hall of Chusonji, in Hiraizumi.

5.

<Japanese>

閑けさや 岩にしみいる 蝉の声

Shizukesa ya/ Iwa ni shimiiru/ Semi no koe

<English

Oh, tranquility!

Penetrating the very rock,

A cicada’s voice.

Translated by Helen Craig Mccullough

*The haiku poem at Risshakuji Temple, Yamagata Prefecture.

Related Post

Scenic Yamadera (Risshakuji) Temple in Yamagata







6.

<Japanese>

五月雨を あつめてはやし 最上川

Samidare wo/ Atsumete Hayashi/ Mogamigawa

 

Gathering the rains of summer,

How swift it is

Mogami River.

Other Basho’s famous haiku poems

7.

<Japanese>

古池や 蛙飛び込む 水の音

Furuike ya/ Kawazu tobikomu/ Mizu no oto

<English

The old pond

A frog leaps in.

Sound of the water.

*What is the meaning of this frog and pond haiku poem?

8.

<Japanese>

物いへば 唇寒し 秋の風

Mono ieba/ Kuchibiru samushi/ Aki no kaze

<English>

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.

9.

<Japanese>

粽結ふ 片手にはさむ 額髪

Chimaki yu/ Katate ni hasamu/ Hitai gami

<English>

While rolling the Chimaki dumpling,

The other hand hold,

Her bangs. 

*Chimaki: A rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves. Eating at Boys’ Festival

Related Post

Japanese traditional event “Boys’ Festival”, and Samurai helmet

10.

<Japanese>

旅に病んで 夢は枯野を かけ廻る

Tabi ni yande/ Yume wa kareno wo/ Kakemeguru

<English>

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.

Read other haiku poems about death by famous poets?

Book

Contents

Introduction

CHAPTER ONE: Early Pomes 1662-74

CHAPTER TWO:Basho Professional Poet 1675-79

CHAPTER THREE: Retreat to Nature-A Religious Life 168-83

CHAPTER FOUR: Basho’s Journeys in the Way of the Poet 1684-88

CHAPTER FIVE: Basho’s Journey to the Interior 1689

CHAPTER SIX: At the Peak and Still Travelling 16090-91

CHAPTER SEVEN: Basho Finds the Secrets of Greatness of Poetry and Life 1692-94

Do you look for more books about Matsuo Basho?

Booklist about Matsuo Basho

More Basho’s haiku poems

Other famous Japanese poets

Other traditional Japanese poetry “Tanka”










You might be interested in this too

2 thoughts on “Best 10 famous Matsuo Basho’s haiku poems in English and Japanese

  • The haiku poems are shown in original Japanese 5-7-7 syllables, and translated to English three lines style to realize the meaning.

    your mistake
    5-7-5 haiku

    • Thank you for leaving a comment!

      As you look into, the number of the syllables of the haiku poem is seventeen not nighnteen, because that was originally the upper part (上の句, kami-no ku) of tanka poems (5-7-5-7-7). In more detail, the haiku was the first upper part of “haikai” funny linked poem (starting from 5-7-5-7-7).

Comments are closed.