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Basho’s Haibun “Hiraizumi”: A Commentary

#Haiku Happenings #6: Ray Rasmussen’s commentary on Basho’s “Hiraizumi” from “Narrow Road to the Deep North!”

Ray Rasmussen's Haibun & Haiku Blog

Field at present day Hiraizumi, Japan . . . all that remains of soldiers’ dreams.

Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal which the reader recognizes as his own.” ~Salvatore Quasimodo

Bashō’s travel journals, purportedly the earliest examples of haibun, are accounts of his late-in-life walking journeys through Japan. They are often cited as important reading for serious students of the form. More generally, they are held up as good reading for readers who enjoy poetic prose and who want a glimpse of the spirit of a man who lived several centuries ago.

For this commentary, I’ve selected the passage “Hiraizumi” from The Narrow Road to the Deep North about the demise of the Fujiwara clan. I chose it because as Quasimodo suggests, Bashō expressed a feeling in this piece that I recognized as my own in recent travels in the…

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