Thus Begins the Fall

BashoMatsuo Basho comes again to my rescue when I need the famous Japanese haiku poet to versify the varying moods of the current fall season.

Without comment, I provide below three poems written by him in the late 17th century that with the greatest economy of expression encapsulate the very meaning of what we are experiencing now. My transcreations in English follow the original Japanese in Roman script.

1679
Kare-eda ni
karasu-no tomari-keri
aki-no-kure

crow

On a blighted bough
a crow lights for a shakedown –
fall of autumn night

1688
Hatsu aki ya:
umi mo aota-no
hito midori

ricefield

Thus begins the Fall:
the ocean and the rice-field –
both the selfsame green.

1691
Aki-kaze-no
fuke-domo aoshi
kuri-no-iga

Chestnuts

Blows the autumn wind:
behind yet stays a greenness –
husk of the chestnut.

Afterword
A fuller exposition of the poet’s Haiku verses (ten in all) appeared earlier in the year entitled “The Haiku of Matsuo Basho.”

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