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#2567 - Monday, August 28, 2006 - Editor: Gloria Lee
Travel Sketches - Basho
From Basho's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches"
Many things of the past are brought to my mind, as I stand in the garden staring at a cherry tree.
I paid a visit to the shrine at Ise Yamada.
Not knowing the name of the tree, I stood in the flood of its sweet smell.
It is a bit too cold to be naked in this stormy wind of February.
I met Setsudo, son of Ajiro Minbu.
A young shoot has borne beautiful flowers growing upon an aged plum tree.
I threw away quite a number of things, for I believed in traveling light. There were certain things, however, I had to carry on my back - such as a raincoat, an overcoat, an inkstone, a brush, writing paper, medicine, a lunch basket - and these constituted quite a load for me. I made such slow progress that I felt deeply depressed as I walked along with faltering steps, giving as much power as I could to my trembling knees.
Tired of walking I put up at an inn, embraced comfortably by wisteria flowers.
One after another in silent succession fall the flowers of yellow roses - the roar of tumbling water.
Dragging my sore heels, I plodded along like Saigyo, all the time with the memory of his suffering at the River Tenryu in my mind, and when I hired a horse, I thought of the famous priest who had experienced the disgrace of being thrown from his horse into a moat. Nevertheless, it was a great pleasure to see the marvellous beauties of nature, rare scenes in the mountains or along the coast, or to visit the sites of temporary abodes of ancient sages where they had spent their secluded lives, or better still, to meet people who had entirely devoted themselves to the search for artistic truth. Since I had nowhere permanent to stay, I had no interest whatever in keeping treasures, and since I was empty-handed, I had no fear of being robbed on the way. I walked at full ease, scorning the pleasure of riding in a palanquin, and filled my hungry stomach with coarse food, shunning the luxury of meant. I bent my steps in whatever direction I wished, having no itinerary to follow. My only mundane concerns were whether the straw sandals were the right size for my feet. Every turn of the road brought me new thoughts and every sunrise gave me fresh emotions. My joy was great when I encountered anyone with the slightest understanding of artistic elegance .... indeed, one of the greatest pleasures of travelling was to find a genius hidden among weeds and bushes, a treasure lost in broken tiles, a mass of gold buried in clay, and when I did find such a person, I always kept a record with the hope that I might be able to show it to my friends.
The day for the spring change of clothing came.
I took a kimono off to feel lighter only putting it in the load on my back.
The moment I descended Mount Yoshino, I sought to sell my cotton-stuffed coat.
Written by Mangiku
At a certain man's home in Osaka:
To talk casually about an iris flower is one of the pleasures of the wandering journey.
~ Basho, "The Narrow Road To The Deep North And Other Travel Sketches"
Happy Gardening, Mazie
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