Vision through Voice: The Poetry of Basho in the English Language: [Essay Example], 1066 words GradesFixer
exit-popup-close

Haven't found the right essay?

Get an expert to write your essay!

exit-popup-print

Professional writers and researchers

exit-popup-quotes

Sources and citation are provided

exit-popup-clock

3 hour delivery

exit-popup-persone
close
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by professional essay writers.

Vision Through Voice: the Poetry of Basho in the English Language

Download Print

Pssst… we can write an original essay just for you.

Any subject. Any type of essay.

We’ll even meet a 3-hour deadline.

Get your price

121 writers online

blank-ico
Download PDF

In Narrow Road to the Deep North, Japanese poet Basho expresses himself masterfully through the traditional forms of haibun, covering themes of nature, folklore, faith, and journeys both physical and spiritual. All these stories and sentiments are contained within a haibun—a short piece of prose that tells the story and sets the mood—and meaningfully condensed into three lines in the haiku. The form seems simple—a short narrative, then three lines with a five-seven-five syllable pattern—which has lead many readers to regard it as a “children’s form”. It is this simplicity, however, that testifies to the brilliance of Basho. Such strict and simple parameters require precise and purposeful word choice—there is no room for flowery embellishments. Every syllable must contribute fully to the meaning of the work, and Basho makes deliberate choices to poignantly and accurately convey the depth of his feelings. In this way, he demonstrates the value of haibun as an art form—for children and adults alike.

In the selection entitled “IN TSURUGA: Second Year of Genroku”, two folk tales appear: first the ancient ritual of carrying sand to the Kei Shrine, and later a story recounted by an innkeeper at Tsuruga Harbor about a temple bell, knocked from a boat by a dragon into the depths of the sea. These folk tales set the scene, creating a contextual background against which Basho can drape moments of emotional clarity. In a few brief sentences, he explains the folklore and expresses how it adds to the sanctity of the place. The line “With the holiness of the shrine and the moon’s light pouring down through the trees, a deep sense of reverence seeped into my bones” (Basho) seamlessly draws upon the lore to increase the significance of his emotional reaction to it; combining his preexisting knowledge, “holiness of the shrine,” with his immediate experience, “moon’s light pouring down”. Nature and knowledge meet to convey poetic intention, unmistakable in English despite having been translated from Japanese. Simplicity of language also keeps the haibun concise and impactful; “There’s a temple bell deep in the sea” (Basho), for example, sets the scene effectively. Here, the reader must infer the emotions of the poet, but cues in the haiku itself point to Basho’s uncertainty. With “The temple bell sunk / to the bottom of the sea,” Basho makes it clear that the story is alive in his consciousness, running through his mind when he composes the haiku, and the question he writes in the first line, “Where’s the moon?”, parallels his feelings about the story. The moon is obscured from view by rainclouds; Basho wonders where it is, as if the fact that the moon isn’t visible means it’s no longer in the sky. All together, these lines raise an interesting question about belief. Basho knows the moon is still in the sky, even though it can’t be seen—does this mean he knows that the mythic temple bell still lies at the bottom of the sea, even though his only experience with the bell was through an innkeeper’s folk story? Can we assume all folk tales true once they can’t be disproved? All these queries can be drawn from three simple lines, once the stage has been adequately set, and Basho does this expertly.

Continuing to express only what needs to be expressed, Basho uses the reader’s assumed prior understanding of folklore as a base for his points. The nature of folk stories inevitably invites skepticism. They are passed on by word of mouth, removing all accountability from the storytellers who may intentionally or unintentionally embellish the original tale; they often include fantastical events which seem impossible but can never be disproven due to their inability to be traced. Even when they are based on superstition and whimsy, they continue to be passed along through generations. Over time, they can no longer be disproven—no one witnessed it firsthand, so it’s impossible to say what the truth really is. Basho associates the moon with truth in folk stories early on; “the moon so pure / on the sand carried here / by the Pilgrim Priests” connects the moon to folk tales right away, blurring the line between Basho’s current experience and the stories that he associates with the scene before him. When rain falls in an earlier haibun, Basho expresses feelings of uncertainty: “the north country weather / so uncertain”. While his concern most certainly relates to the fickle weather that might detriment his journey, applying those feelings to the moon as a symbol of truth in stories helps us better understand its role in the poem. Rain clouds rolling in and concealing the moon from view leads Basho to wonder where the moon has gone; this can be understood metaphorically as well, with the moon as a symbol of truth in stories, and the clouds as the uncertainty that surrounds it. What ultimately helps us determine Basho’s intention behind the haibun is this simple fact: even when concealed by clouds, the moon is still there. If the moon is aligned with the truth in this work, and clouds represent a shroud of doubt, then it can be assumed that truth can always be found in the midst of folklore. His arrival at this conclusion is much like the physical journey he describes in Narrow Road, marked by obstacles and doubt, but ultimately arriving safe at a resting place that feels fitting. Basho believes that a grain of truth lies at the center of every folktale—that a temple bell truly does lie at the bottom of the sea. All this can be discerned from his brief haibun and even briefer haikus.

In this medium, understanding the intention of the poetry is a collaborative effort between the poet and the reader. Like other forms, what is unsaid in the form of the haibun is just as relevant and important as what is said—perhaps even more so. How, then, can we dismiss haibun as a “children’s form” of poetry? When understanding of the theme is relative to our own experience, our interpretation of the piece will only change and expand over time. As we get older and wiser, the poems will prove more enlightening to us—though Basho’s poetic simplicity ensures that at any age, and in any language, we will be able to connect and share these moments with him.

Remember: This is just a sample from a fellow student.

Your time is important. Let us write you an essay from scratch

100% plagiarism free

Sources and citations are provided

Find Free Essays

We provide you with original essay samples, perfect formatting and styling

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

GradesFixer. (2018). Vision through Voice: The Poetry of Basho in the English Language. Retrived from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/vision-through-voice-the-poetry-of-basho-in-the-english-language/
GradesFixer. "Vision through Voice: The Poetry of Basho in the English Language." GradesFixer, 15 Jun. 2018, https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/vision-through-voice-the-poetry-of-basho-in-the-english-language/
GradesFixer, 2018. Vision through Voice: The Poetry of Basho in the English Language. [online] Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/vision-through-voice-the-poetry-of-basho-in-the-english-language/> [Accessed 20 September 2020].
GradesFixer. Vision through Voice: The Poetry of Basho in the English Language [Internet]. GradesFixer; 2018 [cited 2018 Jun 15]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/vision-through-voice-the-poetry-of-basho-in-the-english-language/
copy to clipboard
close

Sorry, copying is not allowed on our website. If you’d like this or any other sample, we’ll happily email it to you.

    By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

    close

    Attention! this essay is not unique. You can get 100% plagiarism FREE essay in 30sec

    Recieve 100% plagiarism-Free paper just for 4.99$ on email
    get unique paper
    *Public papers are open and may contain not unique content
    download public sample
    close

    Sorry, we cannot unicalize this essay. You can order Unique paper and our professionals Rewrite it for you

    close

    Thanks!

    Your essay sample has been sent.

    Want us to write one just for you? We can custom edit this essay into an original, 100% plagiarism free essay.

    thanks-icon Order now
    boy

    Hi there!

    Are you interested in getting a customized paper?

    Check it out!
    Having trouble finding the perfect essay? We’ve got you covered. Hire a writer

    GradesFixer.com uses cookies. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy.