Thursday, January 5, 2012

Basho Revisited, an autumn morning

In Basho's time figurines made of paper maché were popular. There were even ones with their heads balanced separately so they seemed to nod. Maybe you have once made such a figurine of paper maché.
When I was young I made surprises with paper maché to use them to hide a gift or present.
In one of Basho's haiku he mentions a cat made of paper. This one was written in autumn 1681.

hari nuki no    neko mo shiru nari    kesa no aki

made of paper
the cat seems to know
an autumn morning

Picture this haiku. I think that Basho was sitting on the verandah in front of a house of one of his friends or disciples. Or maybe he was sitting in front of his own banana tree cottage. In front of his eyes he sees a cat of paper maché that's nodding his head in the autumn wind.
I think this is one of Basho's best haiku and it can easily compete with for example the haiku 'Old Pond' or 'On a Withered Bough'. It's a shame that this haiku is not so well known.

Can I write a haiku like this? I don't know, but I will surely give it a try.

an autumn evening
in the westerly wind
the wind chime

In this haiku, I think, I have touched the tone and sense of Basho's 'paper cat' with a complete different picture of the wind chime.


Also published for The Poetry Picnic of the Gooseberry Garden.


  1. Thank you for visiting my new blog about Matsuo Basho. Thanks also for the kind remarks.

  2. Cats, wind chimes, two of my favorite things.

    I enjoyed reading this and learning more.